Dead nettle acquired its common name because its leaves resemble those on a stinging nettle. (The "dead" part of the name comes from the fact that the plant lacks the sting found in stinging nettle.) Dead nettle is a wonderful ground cover for shady spots in the garden. It has attractive foliage that is usually marked with silver and flowers in shades of white, pink, purple, and yellow, depending on the variety. The flowers generally appear in summer.
- Common name: Dead nettle
- Botanical name: Lamium maculatum
- Zones: 4 to 8
- Size: To 10 inches
- From: Areas of Europe, Asia, and Africa
- Family: Labitae (mint family)
- Sun: Partial to full shade. Dead nettle grows fastest in partial shade.
- Soil: Moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter is best. The plant adapts to various soil types, however.
- Moisture: Water during times of drought. Note: If the plant becomes too dry, its foliage will go brown.
- Mulch: A layer of mulch over the soil helps keep taller weeds from growing over the plant.
- Pruning: Unnecessary.
- Fertilizer: Fertilizer is generally unnecessary except in very poor soils or where extremely fast growth is desired.
- Division: Division is best in spring or autumn, but can be done anytime the soil isn't frozen.
- Cuttings: Take the cuttings in summer.
- Leaf spot: In summer or autumn, leaves develop yellow or brown spots. Later concentric rings often develop around the spots forming a bull's-eye pattern. To deter leaf spot, prune plants to keep good airflow, and avoid wetting the foliage in afternoons and evenings.
- Powdery mildew: This disease tends to appear in mid- to late summer. Affected plants look like there's a gray powder on the leaves; affected leaves then drop from the plant. To deter the disease, prune the plant to keep good airflow and avoid wetting the foliage in afternoons and evenings.
- Slugs/Snails: Slugs and snails tend to eat at night, chewing up leaves. They leave slick, slimy trails behind the next morning. To deter them, try surrounding plants with a ring of horticultural grade diatomaceous earth or laying down a slug bait. Some people have found success with laying copper strips around plants, but this does not seem to work for everyone. If slugs are not particularly numerous, set out shallow containers of stale beer at ground level. Slugs, attracted to the beer, crawl into it and drown.
- In rich soil, this ground cover can be especially vigorous and aggressive. When growing this plant in a shade garden, it may be wise to separate it from other plants with root barriers or plant it alone in a area where it can spread freely without smothering less vigorous plants.
- Lamium maculatum ‘Anne Greenaway': Grows to 1 foot tall. Green leaves marked with gold and silver; light pink flowers in summer. Zones 4 to 8.
- Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver': Grows to 1 foot tall. Green leaves marked silver; light pink flowers in summer. Zones 4 to 8.
- Lamium maculatum ‘Brocade': Grows to 1 foot tall. Green leaves flushed with purple; light pink flowers in summer. Zones 4 to 8.
- Lamium maculatum ‘Chequers': Grows to 1 foot tall. Green leaves marked silvery white; light pink flowers in summer. Zones 4 to 8.
- Lamium maculatum ‘Elizabeth de Haas': Grows to 1 foot tall. Green leaves spotted with creamy gold; light pink flowers in summer. Zones 4 to 8.
- Lamium maculatum ‘Pink Pewter': Grows to 1 foot tall. Gray-green leaves marked silver; light pink flowers in summer. Zones 4 to 8.
- Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy': Grows to 8 inches tall. Silvery-green leaves marked green; white flowers in summer. Zones 4 to 8.