Stinging Nettle or Urtica dioica/ nettle leaf/ common nettle is a perennial herb with irritating microscopic hairs. These plants belong to the Urticaceae family commonly found to grow in riparian zones. Because nettle hair is so sharp, it can inject toxic irritants into your skin, causing itching, swelling, redness, and other skin symptoms. Nettles grow in abandoned land and deserted portions of a garden because they are hardy and require little upkeep.
Although nettles appear to be harmless, most gardeners dislike them because they sting when brushed against. However, it is their tiny stinging hairs that make it easy for anyone to identify Nettles.
That said, if you have nettles in your garden and are irritated by their stings, it is time to focus on eliminating them. You should also keep in mind that because nettles are perennial, they can develop through root systems and seeds. In a word, if you do not work quickly enough, these weeds may easily take over your garden.
What Causes Nettle Stings?
- Before we get into how to get rid of stinging nettles, let’s look at how to recognize these fast-growing herbaceous perennial weeds. To avoid destroying any other healthy plants with herbicides, you should be certain about these plants.
- To correctly identify the stinging nettle, look for the features listed below.
- The size of stinging nettles varies from 2 to 6 feet.
- The leaves are serrated on the top with a smooth surface and stinging hairs on the underside. Leaves can reach a length of 2 to 6 inches and a width of 1 to 2 inches.
- These weeds have stinging hairs or trichomes on their stems and leaves that irritate the skin when brushed against.
- During the summer, stinging nettle can be spotted.
- These plants produce small greenish-white flowers during the summer months.
Apart from these common characteristics, here are some basic facts about these weeds.
|Common Name||Stinging Nettle|
|Botanical Name||Urtica dioic|
|Mature Size||3–7 ft. tall|
|Hardiness Area||USDA 4- 10|
Are Nettles All Bad?
Nettles have a negative reputation among gardeners due to their stinging nature. However, these perennial weeds are much more than that.
Nettles, in fact, attract beneficial wildlife. The fruits of Urtica dioica, for example, are high in iron, magnesium, calcium, and nitrogen. Many insects and seed-eating birds, such as bullfinches, serins, and siskins, rely on these plants for food. Furthermore, these plants can be used by gardeners who want to make their own organic nitrogen liquid fertilizer.
Stinging nettles have proven their usefulness in human use as well. The following are a few examples of how this herb, cum weed, can be put to good use as a delicacy.
#1. Nettles as Spinach Alternative
Nettles can be substituted for spinach in any spinach-based recipe. These leaves can be steamed for 3-5 minutes and used in any side dish.
#2. Nettle Soup
Boiled and cubed potatoes, fresh cream, stock, and nettles can also be used to make a basic potato-nettle soup. Mix all of these ingredients and bring to a boil until the appropriate consistency is achieved, then mix with a hand blender and serve with fresh cream on top.
#3. Nettle Tea
Nettle tea is used to treat asthma, eczema, muscle aches, and other diseases. You’ll need to simmer a few nettle leaves in boiling water to prepare this tea. Wait until the water becomes green before straining and drinking it.
Why Eliminate Stinging Nettles?
So nettles aren’t all nasty, and they offer a variety of health properties. So, one of the first questions that come to mind is why would anyone consider killing them. The first and most important reason is that these are invasive weeds that are mildly poisonous to humans and animals.
You can get skin rashes if you come into contact with nettles’ broken stem or leaf or if you brush against them. Stinging nettles have trichomes on their stems and leaves, which behave like needles when they come into contact with the skin and inject chemicals, such as:
These chemicals may cause severe allergic reactions, such as:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Swelling of mouths, lips, tongue, etc.
A severe nettle sting can cause also anaphylactic shock and death, in addition to these symptoms.
Things You Will Need while Working with Stinging Nettles
Since stinging nettle is highly stingy, it is absolutely essential to take precautions while working with flowering weeds. Following are the things you would need to ensure a safe working environment.
- Full sleeve shirts and hand gloves
- Industrial goggles
- Face mask
- Rubber gloves
- Hand fork
- Hedge trimmer
- Herbicide (for chemical methods)
Getting Rid of Stinging Nettles
Stinging nettles can reproduce through roots and seeds, as previously described. As a result, it is critical to target these regions for nettle control.
There are a variety of approaches to dealing with these vexing weeds, the most effective of which is the application of herbicides. However, we have focused on both chemical and organic methods in this post. You can use any of the approaches depending on your needs and preferences.
Chemical herbicides are one of the most effective ways to get rid of stinging nettles. Therefore, to eliminate nettles, glyphosate-based weed herbicides should be employed. However, using chemical solutions, particularly ones containing glyphosate, has several drawbacks. And to begin with, you may accidentally harm other plants in the process, especially if the nettle is growing in your ranch or garden. Moreover, glyphosate has toxicity that could be detrimental to humans and animals.
Still, you can follow the below-written steps with caution to get improved results.
Step 1– Prune the Plants
Before applying any chemical herbicide, make sure to prune the nettle plants to the base.
Step 2– Uproot
Completely uproot the plants. Carry out the task manually and with care. Make certain that every plant has been removed. A hand fork might assist you in making the task easier.
Step 3– Apply the Herbicide
- Non-selective Herbicides:
If there is no neighboring healthy vegetation, a glyphosate-based weedkiller, such as Doff Weedout Extra, Roundup Ultra, or similar, can be used to eradicate the nettle-infested area. However, these weed control treatments should be used in June, just before they blossom. In September, a second application may be required (autumn). Dig up any remaining nettles by the roots the next spring.
Weed control treatments with imazapyr as the active ingredient are another option. Imazapyr is moderately poisonous yet non-selective, meaning it kills any plant it comes into contact with, including stinging nettles.
Pro tip: Follow the application instructions on the product label before applying the product to the weed to get the utmost benefit.
- Selective Herbicides:
Selective weed control chemicals can be used as an alternative to non-selective herbicides. However, depending on the severity of the nettle infestation, two to three applications may be required. The best herbicide to use is 2,4-D Amine Selective Post-Emergent Herbicide, which is a systemic herbicide created specifically for stinging nettle. In a sprayer, combine the ingredients and spray the top and bottom of the stinging nettle leaves. Make sure all of the nettle plants’ leaves are uniformly coated.
Pro tip– For per acre, do not use more than 4 pints of 2,4-D Amine Selective Post-Emergent Herbicide.
Step 4– Retreatment
Since stinging nettles are highly persistent and take time to perish completely, retreatment may be necessary after 30days of the chemical application. A total of 2 applications can be undertaken in a year.
Bonus Read: How to Get Rid of Aphids in Your Garden
If you want to refrain from using chemical herbicides, you can adopt organic methods. Although these are not as effective as the chemical approaches, you can still consider them.
The best time to deal with nettles is in the early summer before the plants start to blossom. This will help to limit further proliferation by preventing the generation of seeds. However, you’ll need to repeat this technique every summer to avoid nettle infestation.
Step 1– Did Up the Roots
Because stinging nettle spreads through its roots, it’s a good idea to dig them up. Cut the nettles to the ground with a pair of garden cutters, then dig up the roots with a garden fork or shovel. In this case, you’d have to double-check that you’ve eliminated the entire root system.
Step 2– Applying Lime
You might want to consider putting lime in the soil where the nettles grow. These plants prefer acidic soil and do not thrive in strongly alkaline soil. As a result, adding lime to the soil will cause the pH level to become unbalanced, forcing these plants to perish and be eradicated. Afterward, pull out the dead plants and dispose of them well.
Step 4– Spraying Vinegar
Vinegar is a great way to get rid of weeds.
In a mixing bowl, combine four parts vinegar, one part water, and one ounce of dishwashing soap. Fill a spray bottle halfway with the solution and spray the nettles every two days until they die. It may take up to two weeks to finish this treatment. Once the nettles have perished, pull what’s left at the base to create a nettle-free zone.
Pro tip– Do not spray the vinegar mix when it is windy or breezy outside, as it can accidentally spray on surrounding healthy plants and harm them.
Step 5 – Treatment
You should put grass in the space after all of the nettle plants have died and been plucked. To prevent stinging nettles from re-establishing themselves, the area must be mowed at regular intervals. Also, make careful to clean your instruments after working in a nettle-infested area to avoid spreading seed or root fragments to other areas.
How to Stop Stinging Nettle from Coming Back?
Stinging nettles, as previously said, are persistent, which means they have a proclivity to return. So not only must they be killed, but they should be prevented from growing again. Applying a weed and feed fertilizer before the springtime is the best defense against stinging nettles. In addition, the following are some steps you can take to prevent stinging nettle regrowth in your yard.
#1. Mow Your Yard
It’s critical to mow your lawn on a regular basis to prevent stinging nettle regrowth. Consider mowing your lawn once it has grown to a height of at least 3“. If you can identify any existing nettle roots, you must uproot them or use chemical solutions to destroy them.
#2. Dig Out the Plants
Where you can’t mow, use a hoe to dig out the plants. The easiest technique to keep nettle plants from spreading is to dig up their roots on a regular basis. However, do not touch or leave the roots of these plants alone, as doing so can spread the rhizomes to other locations.
#3. Apply Weed and Feed Herbicide
Apply a dense layer of 15-5-10 Weed and Feed Fertilizer with Trimec. After that, apply an inch of water to the area to activate the product.
#4. Seed Grass
You could also consider grass seeding in the treated region. The established grasses cover will suffocate stinging nettle plants.
#5. Organic Mulch
Mulching beds on an annual basis will also generate a thick layer that will reduce nettles by stopping penetration of sunlight to the seeds, killing them eventually.
Finally, we’d like to emphasize that getting rid of stinging nettles is not difficult. All you have to do is persevere in your efforts and take the proper actions. Treat these flowering herbs as tough weeds and follow the techniques for removing weeds from the garden if you really want to get rid of them. You can either use organic methods or chemical herbicides, depending on the intensity of the stinging nettle infestation. When dealing with stinging nettles, always be sure to use protective gear.