The Benefits of Nettles in a Garden and Their Uses

Stinging Nettles tend to have a pretty poor reputation, but they can be beneficial to a gardener is so many ways. Read on before you pull them out and throw them away. I have put together some great ways to use them to benefit your garden. You can also make your own herbal tea. I have included a recipe in the post.

A plant that stings you is never going to be a popular plant for the garden. Nettles, if left unchecked, can become a problem for any gardener since they are quite invasive and rapid growing. Simply pulling and removing nettles from a garden might be the knee jerk reaction from any gardener. However, despite their stinging properties and overall weed-like appearance, the pros of having nettles nearby, far outweighs their painful, rash inducing touch and annoyance inducing reaction.

Of course, that isn’t to say I am encouraging you to allow nettles to take over your entire patch. But perhaps, instead, allowing nettles to have their own space to grow in the garden will make them seem like any other beneficial plant or herb you currently grow voluntarily.

Ways to Use Nettles that Benefit You and Your Garden

Nettles can be so beneficial to the garden and have many practical uses, that can save you money, encourage wildlife and therefore improve your garden greatly.

Make Your Own Liquid Nettle Plant Feed

Nettles are rich in nitrogen, which is one of the most important nutrients that plants need to thrive.

Close up photograph of stinging nettles.

How to Make Liquid Nettle Plant Food

Rather than buying nitrogen feeds from the garden centre, you can make your own plant food using nettles.

  1. Take a large container and place as many harvested nettle plants into it as you can fit.
  2. Weigh the nettles down with something heavy, like large rocks, for instance.
  3. Cover the nettles with water.
  4. Leave the container alone for a few weeks.

After a few week, you will have a nitrogen rich feed you can use to feed your plants, dilute the feed with water before application (approximately 1 part feed to 10 parts water).

Be aware, this feed STINKS, so don’t keep it close to the house.

Add Nettles to the Compost Heap

Nettles help speed up the composting process.

photograph of a compost heap

Adding Nettles to a Compost Heap

Chop the nettle leaves up and mix them into your compost heap (leave the roots out). Nettle leaves help speed up the composting process making it decompose quicker so you can use it in your garden.

Use Nettles as a Fly Deterrent

Flies don’t like the smell of nettles.

close up of a fly

Use Them as a Fly Deterrent

Flies aren’t keen on the nettle leaves. So, take advantage of this by hanging bunches of stinging nettles in doorways or windows to stop them coming inside. You can mix the bunches with lavender because they hate that too! Just be careful to avoid brushing your head against them and stinging yourself.

Stinging Nettles Attract Beneficial Wildlife

The simple presence of nettles in a garden, will attract a whole array of beneficial bugs.

butterfly sitting on a nettle leaf

Stinging Nettles Attract Ladybirds and Butterflies

Ladybirds like to lay their eggs on nettles and caterpillars love to eat them, which makes them the perfect attractor for these helpful garden creatures. They will in turn help to rid your garden of pests such as aphids. You don’t even have to do anything special to reap these rewards, just leave the nettles alone or grow them in a dedicated area.

Nettles are Edible

There are many recipes in which you can use nettles, such as tea, soup, greens and even beer!

overhead view of a cup of herbal nettle tea

How to Make Nettle Tea

Nettles are said to have medicinal purposes and have been used as a natural remedy to treat things such as arthritis and allergies for a long time. There are many recipes in which you can use nettles. Making nettle tea is a simple, easy way to begin using your nettles for culinary purposes.

Stinging Nettle Tea

Author: Becky
Here is a simple recipe to make a soothing herbal tea from nettles you find in the garden.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine Worldwide
Servings 4 Cups
Calories 9 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Cup Nettle Leaves
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 tbsp Honey

Instructions
 

  • Wash the nettle leaves in cool water.
  • Boil the water in a pan over a high heat.
  • Place the washed leaves into the water with the honey and reduce the heat down to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the leaves from the water and serve your tea.

Recipe Notes and Guidance

You can make an iced nettle tea version of this by simply allowing the infusion to sit to cool for 30 minutes (after you have removed the leaves) and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. 

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 9kcal
Keyword herbal nettle tea, nettle tea infusion
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Getting Relief from Stinging Nettles – Home Remedies

Please note: If you were to experience an allergic reaction, it’s important to seek out emergency medical advice immediately.

If you have ever encountered stinging nettles in your garden, I can guarantee that you have felt the sting produced by them at least once. The rash from stinging nettles usually looks like a series of raised bumps or hives which are sometimes red.

The rash from stinging nettles can be mildly painful and long lasting. However, if the rash is mild and no allergic reactions are felt, there are some home remedies you can use to get relief from the sting of nettles.

Firstly, if you can, try to leave to area alone for at least 10 minutes. This means no touching, rubbing or scratching the area. If you do, you can make the nettle rash worse.

After the 10 minutes are up, wash the area thoroughly with cool water (using hot water can make your symptoms worse) and diluted soap.

Other home remedies include:

  1. Dock leaves are usually a popular choice. You can usually find dock leaves growing in the same vicinity as the nettles themselves.
  2. Rub the area with mint fresh mint leaves or mint toothpaste. These both have a cooling effect on the skin.
  3. Rosemary or sage leaves can be used in the same way as dock leaves.
  4. Milk from the nettle leaves themselves has been said to relieve the stinging sensation. Just handle them with gloves so you don’t sting yourself again.

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