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Plant Profile: Betony (Stachys officinalis aka Betonica officinalis)

This herbaceous perennial is native to grasslands, meadows, and open woods of Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa and is also known as common hedgenettle and bishopwort.  It is a member of the mint family, Labatiae, that also includes basil, sage, and beebalm.  Plants grow up 9″ to 3′ tall depending on the variety, and have a hairy stem that is square in cross section and sometimes branched. The dark green oval leaves are up to 5″ long, hairy, coarsely toothed, and have a wrinkled appearance.  The tubular red-violet  flowers appear in interupted spikes in mid to late summer and are 2-lipped and 3/4″ long.  The flowers attract pollinators and are good cut flowers.  Although betony has an illustrious past as a medicinial herb it is more popular now as an ornamental for borders  and cottage gardens.   The genus name, Stachys, comes from the Greek word stachys meaning ear of corn and refers to the inflorescence of a related plant.  The specific epithet, officinalis, is the Latin word meaning sold in shops and refers the medicinal value of the plant.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Interupted spikes of tubular, 2-lipped red-violet flowers in mid to late summer

Size: 9″-3′ H

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained; drought tolerant once established

Hardiness: Zones 4-8

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases:Leaf spot, powdery mildew, Rhizoctonia, rust, Sclerotium, aphids, caterpillars, cyclamen mites  

Propagation: Seed, cuttings, division

Companion Plants: Purple coneflower, geranium ‘Rozanne’, golden Marguerita

Outstanding Selections: ‘Hummelo’ (hot pink flowers, 1-2′ tall)

Photo Credit: Wikipedia