Monday, September 16, 2013

Groundcover Review: Stachys officinalis, Hummelo, Betony

Stachys officinalis, Hummelo, Betony in early July
Stachys officinalis, Hummelo, Betony in early July

Stachys officinalis, Hummelo, Betony


- Hardy to zone 4 and supposedly at least semi-evergreen in zone 6/7. This is my first year with S. officinalis, so I can't say yet how it will perform in winter

- Reported to have moderate drought tolerance. With limited supplemental water, S. officinalis seemed to handle TN heat and typical summer drought with aplomb.

- Long bloom season. Started sending up flower spikes in late June and was still blooming into September. Flowers are reported to provide nectar to bees and butterflies, but unfortunately I didn't see much activity on the Hummelo flowers.

- Foliage is dense enough to suppress weeds.

- Dried leaves can reportedly be used to make tea. (I have not tried this myself so I cannot personally vouch for its safety or taste, just passing on information found via Internet research.)


- Reportedly needs some afternoon shade in hot and humid summer climates, so no dice if you're looking for a full sun groundcover.

- Supposed to spread by creeping stolons to form a groundcover, but so far in its first year has acted more like a clumper. But you know what they say sometimes about groundcovers and vines - first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap! So we'll see what happens in years to come. On the bright side, at this point it seems like it would be easy to keep under control.

- Not native to the U.S. Originates in Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.


I can't say anything bad about Betony, but I don't think it really stands out in the garden yet. Perhaps as it gets more established in the garden, it will have a stronger presence and make more of an impression. If it starts spreading a little further and attracting pollinators, I'll definitely become more enthusiastic.