Lamium: How To Grow and Care For Dead Nettle

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Lamium maculatum (LAY-mee-um mak-yuh-LAH-tum) is a stoloniferous perennial that’s one of the fifty species of Lamium in the Lamiaceae or mint family.

These cousins of mint are mostly native to western Asia, Europe, and North Africa.

Dead Nettle flower - LamiumPin

The plant’s genus name, Lamium, is Greek and means “throat.” Moreover, the specific epithet, maculatum, means “spotted.”

This perennial plant is commonly referred to as Dead Nettle because it resembles stinging nettle plants but lacks the stinging hairs that other nettles possess.

Other common names of this plant include:

  • Spotted dead nettle
  • Spotted henbit

In this article, we will focus on how to care for and grow Lamium maculatum in your garden. 

Lamium Maculatum Care

Lamium For Your Shade Garden

Size and Growth

Spotted Dead Nettle has a sprawling growth habit and does not usually attain a height of more than 9″ inches tall but spreads about 3′ feet wide. 

The squared, hollow stems branch at the base of the plant and ramble enthusiastically to form a ground cover quickly. And this mat-forming perennial ground cover spreads indefinitely over time.

Lamium maculums feature heart-shaped or ovate-triangular, stunning silver leaves that are sometimes slightly fuzzy, spotted, or toothed with long petioles.

The aromatic green leaves have silvery or white variegation, which may be limited to a white or silver stripe along the midvein or spread to cover almost the entire leaf, depending on the cultivar.

Flowering and Fragrance

Spotted Dead Nettle produces pretty purplish-pink or white flowers that bloom from late springtime through early summer and off and on until autumn.

The plant’s flowers are helmet-shaped and are formed in the leaf axils of the upper leaf pairs, offering a lengthy floral display.

The sweet hooded or helmet-like blooms are very attractive to bees and other pollinators.

In addition, each bloom transitions into a cluster of four tiny brown seeds or nutlets.

Light and Temperature

Lamium maculatum is naturally a woodland plant, so it does best in full or partial shade. It will also do fine in dry shade as long as you provide regular watering.

However, it can tolerate direct morning sunshine. Although, make sure to avoid exposure to too much sun because it will cause leaf scorch.

The Spotted dead nettle also dislikes high humidity levels and heat. You may notice bare patches appearing in the heat of the summer, particularly in humid and hot climates.

This cheerful, hardy plant is winter hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 3-8.

Watering and Feeding

Although this member of the mint family prefers slightly moist soil, the Spotted dead nettle is somewhat drought tolerant. Like most plants, it is far better to underwater than to overwater.

Once established, Spotted Dead Nettle may do just fine with natural rainfall. During times of drought, a deep weekly watering should suffice.

Fertilize two times a year (early spring and midsummer) using a good quality fertilizer product with an NPK ratio of 5-10-5 to help promote blooms.

You may also use an all-purpose fertilizer or balanced fertilizer in spring to improve it.

Also, remember to avoid fertilizing the Lamium plant in later summer because the first frost will winterkill the new growth.

Soil and Transplanting

This relative of mint thrives in moist, well-drained soil or light, airy, well-draining, humus-rich soil that is slightly acidic and consistently moist.

However, the Spotted dead nettle can also tolerate a wide range of soil conditions but grows most quickly in a moist, slightly acidic, well-drained, loamy soil. 

Remember, this plant doesn’t like poorly drained or compacted soils. If you have clayey soil, you can add compost to improve drainage. 

These hardy plants are very easy to transplant. Place new plants or divisions in light, airy soil in a partially shaded setting. Keep the soil evenly moist until the plants are established. 

Grooming and Maintenance

Prune as needed to remove dead and damaged stems and maintain the shape and height you desire. 

If your plants’ performance begins to decline during the summer, you can prune them (or mow them) dramatically to promote new growth.

How To Propagate Lamium Maculatum

It is very easy to propagate Spotted Dead Nettle through crown division and non-flowering stem cuttings. 

The plant will also self-seed with wild abandon, but the resulting offspring will not necessarily resemble the parent plant.

Lamium Maculatum Main Pest Or Diseases

Heavy, compacted soil or excessive watering will lead to problems with crown, stem, or root rot and other fungal diseases.

Leaf spots that show as black spots, ringed dark spots, or brown spots are also common plant diseases that may affect your Spotted dead nettle.

To control this problem, it’s best to apply an all-purpose fungicide to the entire plant. Just ensure you’re following the label instructions properly.

Moreover, excessive heat and humidity will cause the plant to die back.

Pests are not usually a problem for this aromatic plant, and rabbits and deer tend to avoid them.

Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, and pets?

Spotted Dead Nettle has a number of uses in folk medicine. It can be edible if correctly harvested at the right time; however, it can also be toxic.

All-in-all, this slightly smelly, deer and rabbit-resistant plant is safe to have around the yard and garden, but it’s best to avoid treating it as an edible plant unless you really know what you are doing.

Is the plant considered invasive?

Lamium maculatum is highly invasive and (per the US Forest Service) can rightly be blamed for nearly half the decline of threatened and endangered plant species in the United States.

You can control its spread by pruning or mowing before the plant goes to seed. The plants’ roots are shallow, so it is easy to control the spread by pulling plants that roam into unwanted areas.

Suggested Lamium Maculatum Uses

Spotted Dead Nettle makes an attractive ground cover for partially shaded and very shady settings. It makes a nice filler in between taller shade plants.

Plant Lamium maculatum alongside spring bulbs. When the bulbs have finished blooming, Spotted Dead Nettle will rise to the occasion and cover the bulbs’ dying foliage.

In small garden settings, this plant can make a nice border or edger; however, it will take a bit of maintenance to keep it under control.

It is also possible to grow the Lamium plants in containers or as hanging basket plants.

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