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Stinging nettles


Tall-growing perennial plant which spreads below ground by rhizomes or across the surface by creeping stems or stolons to form dense clumps of stinging foliage.

Find it on: established borders, uncultivated ground
Time to act: spring, summer, autumn, winter


Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are able to survive in a wide range of conditions but are most common on ground that's been left uncultivated for a long period. Plants can spread to form clumps, and seed is also distributed to infest new areas. Stinging nettles die down to tough yellow roots in autumn, over-wintering to grow up again the following spring.


Tall-growing perennial plant which spreads below ground by rhizomes or across the surface by creeping stems or stolons to form dense clumps of stinging foliage.


Remove seedlings and young plants on freshly cultivated ground before they get chance to establish and spread. Dig out established clumps, ensuring that all of the thick, yellow roots are removed. Where growing nettles to encourage beneficial wildlife, pinch out the flowers as soon as they appear to prevent seeding. The unflowered top growth of nettles can be added to the compost heap but roots should be burned or binned.

Discover 10 uses for nettles


Apply systemic weedkiller to the newly emerging shoots in spring and make further applications as necessary. If treating in summer, cut down foliage and apply weedkiller to the regrowth that appears.

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Talkback: Stinging nettles
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Debs 24/11/2011 at 15:27

I am having a real problem with nettles, docks and creeping buttercup in our wild flower patch - we have been clearing 10 years of overgrown garden for the last 3 years and all these weeds are having a great time!! I don't really want to use weedkiller as we have some free range chickens and have we tried the digging up method for the last couple of years to no avail it seems. Does anyone have any ideas even if it is a weedkiller that won't harm my chucks?

emmajanie 24/11/2011 at 15:29

Hi, I would use some RoundUp weedkiller to be honest.

I try to avoid it, but with nettles and docks it seems to be the only thing that works. I choose this one because it is safe for our dogs. Basically once it's dry after application its animal and bird safe, so if you can keep the chooks away from it until the plants are dry after application you should be fine :)

compo5 14/05/2012 at 20:30

Is are the gardners world control freaks sponsored by Monsanto?

Nettles are a tremendous resource and folk
should think themselves lucky to have them.

They make tremendous fertiliser tea and can easily
be controlled by regular harvesting.

Gary Hobson 15/05/2012 at 05:03

Four of our most popular butterflies require nettles to lay their eggs on, and to raise their broods.

They are - the Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, and Comma.

It's very desirable that your nettle patch should be in a sunny and sheltered spot; and with some nectar plants nearby, so you can enjoy the butterflies.

Welshonion 15/05/2012 at 14:33

You don't seem to have addressed the buttercups - dig them out or weedkiller - or the docks - definitely apply weedkiller.

If you buy Roundup, do so from an agricultural merchant  as dilutable concentrate. Expensive, but cheaper in the long run. And follow the instructions exactly!

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