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How do you manage your nettle patch?

Do you leave it to grow for butterflies? 
Do you cut it down to the ground at certain points of the year? 
Do you just cut off the seed head bits? 
Do you compost it all, or just not seed heads and roots?

I had left mine for butterflies but not seen many this year anyway. I cut off the seed heads but maybe not all because I’ve had some nettle growing out of my made compost last year. I’m wondering if I should chop it all back and get the roots out too from the patch because it’s getting too big. I’ve not been brave enough to cook it or make nettle tea. Should I get rid and put it in the green bin for end of year now summer is over?


  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,540
    Nettles aren't exactly in short supply, so there is no need to feel guilty if you haven't really got room for them in your small patch :)
    I pull up most of those growing in my garden when I can, but mine is large and they often get left for quite a while! I do try to cut them down before they seed though. 
    I don't feel guilty either, as there are more than enough growing in the inaccessible boggy triangle and in the sheep fields too, despite those being sprayed last year.
    Nettle tea is easy to make though and worth it if you are likely to need a high nitrogen feed. I've got an empty, fatball bucket ready to make some comfrey mix, as I use much more of that :)  
  • barry islandbarry island Posts: 1,840
    Home nettles don't get a chance but allotment nettles away from the growing beds are welcome, if they grow on the beds they get composted in the four-year cycle compost bins during the winter when they aren't in seed ,in spring the fresh new shoots get soaked in buckets to make high nitrogen feed, in the summer they only get cut down if they are in the way and don't have caterpillars on them.
  • We have a quite a large patch we let grow in our wild area - maybe 8-9sqm. I don’t do anything with it, I’ve seen advice on cutting it back around August to stimulate fresh growth but I don’t bother. That wouldn’t happen in nature so don’t see a need to. I do keep the size of the patch under control, so maybe pull up any bits spreading once or twice a year. Otherwise the area is left completely to its own devices.

    I don’t worry about any seeds spreading as nettles are easy enough to spot and pull up from elsewhere in the garden. Any I do pull up go into the compost, there aren’t enough to make nettle tea without adding a lot from the wild area, which would seem contrary to why we let them grow. We don’t seem to get more nettles elsewhere year on year so leaving the seed heads and throwing any unwanted into the compost doesn’t seem to be causing any more work. 

    Maybe nettles aren’t in short supply in some areas but many urban gardens are fairly barren of native plants and most non-gardeners (unless they leave their gardens completely untended) will remove nettles. But I do consider myself lucky to have the space for a completely wild area
     If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero
    East facing, top of a hill clay-loam, cultivated for centuries (7 years by me). Birmingham
  • thevictorianthevictorian Posts: 1,262
    I grow as many native plants as I can and have dead nettles but don't really want anything in my garden that stings me tbh. If I had a larger garden with out of the way areas I would leave some but it's to small to have wasted space.
    I have a patch down the allotment and simply remove any that spread out of the area I want them in.
  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,723
    My nettle patches are not deliberate but I just leave them, anything that tries to spread to somewhere where it might sting me gets mown back, if you mow the nettles about once a month for the summer they give up and die. Patches that are left are left alone completely, the dried nettles are left standing over winter they are also a good habitat for insects to overwinter in.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,341
    I do not allow nettles to grow in my garden. It's not exactly necessary anyway - the completed unmanaged 'paddock' behind me is full of nettles, ragwort, thistles and brambles etc etc. Lots of long grass too. It must be a haven for wildlife but it's a PITA for me as all the seeds blow into my garden.

    I have heard others saying it's a poor year for butterflies but I've seen more this last month or so than I would do normally - lots of Red Admirals in particular. The buddleias have been smothered.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • So I’m hearing that you can compost nettles, seeds and all. I think my patch is a bit too big now, it’s in the wild area at the back by the compost bin but I do still want to keep it in check.

    I’m going to cut it all down now, I’ve got plenty of areas for wildlife to over winter without that.
  • We leave certain areas of the garden for wildflowers and this includes nettles.
    If they are in the "garden" area then we do pull them out.
    Otherwise we leave them for the insects and recently had great butterfly counts albeit not just down to the nettles for the caterpillars.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,021
    Pull your nettles as soon as you can and leave them on a path to dry out and then bung them on the compost heap.   Drying them out means they won't re-grow and invade your compost heap.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Good idea about drying them out @Obelixx, will do that. I’ll just cut down at the base, can’t be bothered to dig roots out.
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