If you only glance at the common deadnettle (Lamium), it is easy to confuse the plant’s foliage with the equally common stinging nettle. Although the resemblance between the two plant species is striking, dead nettles have no stinging hairs as a key difference. Both the white and the red deadnettle are not very popular in the home garden and are often treated like classic weeds. On the other hand, the spotted deadnettle, which is native to Europe but occurs less frequently overall, is very popular. It develops decorative labial flowers and is versatile. Absolutely easy to care for and robust, this plant is one of the popular perennial plants in the home garden.

Species Overview

The species Lamium comes in very different colors and variations, but they all have a similar basic structure. The white dead nettle in particular is often confused with the stinging nettle, which also produces white flowers. Together with the red dead nettle, which develops reddish flowers, the plant, like stinging nettles, is treated like a weed and combated in the home garden. The yellow dead nettle, also known as “golden nettle”, appears much more decorative and has rich yellow, shiny flowers in the leaf axils, which unfold shimmering effects in the sunlight.

Its leaves are dark green and contain a delicate yellow pattern, which underlines the decorative effect. In addition to the golden nettle, the spotted deadnettle is encouraged and consciously cultivated in the domestic green area, with the decorative varieties in particular being convincing due to their delicate colouring. While the “White Nancy” variety presents shimmering, silvery leaves, “Silbergenny” forms silver-white foliage that is lined with a rich green on the edge. As a small perennial that shows a bushy growth and forms larger carpets with runners, the dead nettle can be cultivated in different areas of the domestic green area. The different species are different in terms of the suitable location,

location and soil

All types of Lamium thrive particularly well in partially shaded locations. In addition, however, areas in the garden that are in full shade are also well tolerated. Especially if an optimal water supply of the plant is guaranteed, the dead nettle can also be cultivated in sunny locations. But not only in the garden you can plant the dead nettle; the spotted variant in particular is also suitable as a potted plant for the balcony. Here the plant also prefers a partially shaded and bright area. It does well in the morning and evening sun.

Due to these properties, the dead nettle is particularly suitable for planting on the edge of trees in the garden; the plant can also be cultivated under ingrown trees. But the deadnettle is not only used as an excellent groundcover between trees and shrubs, but the plant presents itself as an impressive decoration in all semi-shaded areas in semi-natural garden areas.

As a leaf ornamental perennial, it is also a real eye-catcher in meaningful plantings. The plant is particularly impressive in combination with astilbes, cranesbills or Solomon’s seals, as well as with Caucasus forget-me-nots, ferns, hostas and the colorful Japanese sedge. In addition, the dead nettle is a valuable bee pasture that attracts numerous insects in summer. Overall, the dead nettle is suitable both as a classic ground-covering plant for the garden and for container culture.

In addition to the ideal location, the choice of substrate is also important if the plant is to develop well. Soil with the following characteristics is preferred for all varieties:

  • locker
  • fumes
  • rich in nutrients
  • fresh to moist

Another advantage is a high permeability of the substrate, which prevents waterlogging. In addition, a moderate amount of clay has a beneficial effect.

Watering, fertilizing, wintering

Overall, all Lamium species are quite undemanding. When watering, care should be taken to ensure that the soil is always slightly moist. If the drought persists during the summer months, it is therefore advisable to water the plant regularly. Kept in a pot on the balcony, the top layer of substrate may dry out, but not dry out completely. The plant is insensitive to occasional accumulations of water in the saucer, provided this does not form standing water for several days. During the summer period between April and September, the dead nettle should be fertilized every four weeks for optimal nutrient supply. For this purpose, a commercially available liquid fertilizer is given, for example an organic vegetable fertilizer. However, only half of the recommended concentration should be used for nutrient supply. In the first year after potting or repotting, however, it is not necessary to add fertilizer.

A targeted pruning in the fall is generally not recommended. On the one hand, the leaves are a decorative winter decoration, on the other hand, they also serve as winter protection for the plant. Depending on the variety, this is hardy down to temperatures of -30°C. Additional winter protection is then not required. In winter, additional irrigation can be carried out on frost-free days. However, there is no fertilization during the cold season.

Caring for the dead nettle includes regularly removing the weeds, which should be cut away immediately after they have germinated. If the plant feels particularly comfortable in its location, unwanted proliferation can also become a problem. Targeted parting is recommended as a countermeasure here.

Note: The older the dead nettle, the less maintenance is required.

propagation and plants

The propagation of the dead nettle can basically be done with different methods:

  • about sowing
  • by division
  • with the help of cuttings
  • through self-reproduction

In wild areas or gardens close to nature, numerous deadnettles are usually close together; the reason for the numerous occurrence is self-reproduction, which is particularly successful under favorable site conditions. The plant multiplies not only via seeds, but also via the roots; here the subterranean foothills of the root parts play an important role. In addition, a targeted propagation of the plant is possible. This works particularly easily via division. After cutting, lift the root ball out of the ground with a digging fork and break it into two or more pieces. When separating, you should keep the risk of injury to individual parts of the plant as low as possible. Each section should have multiple leaves and a carefully and profusely developed root system. The division, which generally takes place preferably in the younger growth area of ​​the plant, should always be carried out after flowering.

Furthermore, the dead nettle can also be propagated via cuttings. You get it from non-blooming shoots in summer. Such head cuttings are separated with a clean cut just below a knot. Before placing the cuttings in the prepared growing medium, remove the lower leaves. After plugging in – with the original basal part facing down – at least one eye must look out of the ground. In the period that follows, high humidity is particularly important so that the cuttings can develop optimally. In this context, it has proven to be useful to put a plastic hood over the plant pot to protect against evaporation. As soon as new leaves have formed, the dead nettle can be planted out.

The planting of certain sections of the garden with deadnettles then generally takes place in spring or autumn. In the case of extensive use, it has proven useful to estimate between 8 and 15 copies per square meter. Planting is possible in smaller groups of 5 plants up to larger groups of up to 40 specimens. There should always be a sufficient distance between the plants, which is usually between 20 and 30 centimeters.

Targeted treatment of diseases and pests

Deadnettles are sensitive to certain diseases and pests. Fungal diseases caused by fungi of the genus Botrytis often occur. A typical example in this context is gray mold, which shows the following damage pattern:

  • Soft values ​​of leaves and stems
  • Rotting of leaves and stems
  • Formation of a mouse-grey, heavily dusting fungal lawn

An optimally selected location helps to minimize the risk of an infestation in advance. This also includes a permeable, airy soil, sufficient distance between the individual specimens and the regular use of plant strengtheners, such as rock flour. In acute cases, affected parts of the plant are removed.

Not only fungal infestation causes the dead nettle to create; even if the plant is attacked by aphids, symptoms of the disease can occur. These include, above all, changes in the leaves, which are severely curled up and sometimes blistered, and overall sticky parts of the plant. The aphids themselves are usually seen in dense colonies on the underside of the leaves and on young shoots. This can be remedied by hosing down the plants with a powerful jet of water or various sprays of tansy tea, nettle extract or soap solution. Heavily infested parts of the plant are removed.

food and medicinal plants

Deadnettle leaves from home cultivation are ideal for consumption, for example in a spring salad with wild herbs. Deadnettles taste particularly good in combination with saffron. You can also get the sweet nectar by reading the flowers. Due to the content of saponins and mucilage, the dead nettle also has a protective and soothing effect on the mucous membranes and is also used externally as a remedy for skin diseases and bruises.

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