Stinging Nettle – Planting, Care And Tips
Stinging nettle, Indian nettle, bergamot, gold balm, bee balm or – based on the botanical name – monard: The species of the genus Monarda carry many different names. However, the Indian nettle (or Stinging nettle) is most widespread, because the species, which originates from North America, was used by the Indians as a medicinal plant long before its introduction as an ornamental plant. The perennial, which belongs to the family of labiates (Lamiaceae), received its name because of its nettle-like, aromatic-scented leaves, from which the Oswego Indians made a tea against colds.
Appearance and growth Of The Stinging Nettle
The individual pink, white, purple or red flowers sit together in dense, fringed whorls and attract many bees and other insects from June to September. Especially the horse mint (Monarda punctata) is a true bee magnet. The growth heights of the monards vary between 60 and 120 centimeters depending on the species and variety. Thanks to the increasing demand, a large number of species and varieties are now available on the market. Most of them are crosses or descendants of the North American gold melissa (Monarda didyma) and the native wild nettle (Monarda fistulosa) in Mexico and California. These two types of stinging nettle are also well suited for the production of lemonade. Lemon Monarde (Monarda citriodora) also gives beverages a very individual, slightly lemony note.
Location and soil
Stinging nettle prefer permeable, nutrient-rich, moderately moist soil. In their homeland, stinging nettle grow in light forests and at wood-edges, therefore they tolerate semi-shade very well. Even with full sun they get along well, the aoil must be a little more humid then. Since the location requirements are quite different, one should consider the information on the label with the purchase. Irrespective of type and variety, stinging nettle do not tolerate waterlogging. They also don’t like wintry soils.
The wild, exotic charm of the stinging nettle is particularly evident in near-natural plantations in combination with sage (Salvia), echinacea and yarrow (Achillea) and in autumn beds with asters, horned stonecrop and ornamental grasses. In recent years, it has also developed into an important prairie garden perennial and a real trend plant, populating our gardens together with asters, goldenrods and ornamental grasses. Since the stalks of the stinging nettle are quite bare in the lower area, it is advisable to place lower perennials in the foreground.
The stinging nettle tend to spread over runners. Therefore, plan enough space when planting in spring. If the soil is particularly loamy, some sand or gravel should be worked into the soil before planting in order to avoid waterlogging.
It is best to cut back the dry stems in early spring. In the case of heavy mildew infestation, on the other hand, it makes sense to cut back immediately after flowering close to the soil.
By dividing the plants in spring or autumn after flowering, you can stop the urge to spread and multiply the perennials at the same time. All on sandy, rather dry soils you should split the stinging nettle plants at least every five years, as they age quite quickly here and otherwise disappear with time.
Further care tips
The application of compost in spring promotes the abundance of flowers and prolongs the service life of the perennials, especially on poorer soils.
The stinging nettle species can be reproduced in spring by sowing and in early spring by division. Also the propagation by cuttings in early summer is possible without problems. All breeding forms should only be propagated vegetatively in order to maintain the purity of the variety.
Diseases and pests
The most dangerous opponent of the stinging nettle is the powdery mildew. Although some wild forms and varieties are resistant or resistant, as soon as the pathogen changes slightly due to mutation, these resistances can be broken. Newer breeds such as ‘Aquarius’ or ‘Squaw’ are considered less susceptible. The stinging nettle plants are also occasionally susceptible to rust and eel. Those who water regularly and penetratingly in summer with persistent dryness and pay attention to the right choice of location can prevent infestation with diseases and pests.