Most people consider the plant to be a nuisance weed, even though it is surprisingly useful. Read here which plant is a true miracle cure for the garden

It crowds out weaker garden plants, spreads rapidly and causes painful hives on the skin at the slightest touch: For many gardeners, the nettle is a annoying weed that is difficult to get rid of.

There is actually a real multi-talent behind the plant that even helps animals and other plants.

Stinging nettles are food plants for numerous animals. “Birds eat their seeds and the caterpillars of many butterflies eat their leaves,” writes the Nature Conservation Association of Germany (Nabu).

The peacock butterfly, the small tortoiseshell butterfly, the small map butterfly and the red admiral butterfly are even specialized in nettles – these butterflies are among the most commonly found in Germany. The nettles guarantee the survival of their species. They cannot reproduce without this plant.

The Nabu therefore advocates not cutting back the plant or making sure that this is only done outside the development times of insects. And the clippings with valuable ingredients such as protein, silica and vitamins should not be thrown away, but rather used to care for and strengthen other plants.

Stinging nettles can also be used as a natural fertilizer for the garden.

To do this, you can either add chopped nettle shoots as mulch to vegetable beds and under bushes. Alternatively, you can work them into the soil. The nutrients are gradually transferred into the soil and fertilize the other plants.

Or you can make a liquid manure from the leaves, which can be used as a liquid fertilizer. To do this, mix one kilogram of fresh, roughly chopped plant material with ten liters of water. The mixture is left to steep for 14 days. Fermentation is complete when no more bubbles rise.

The mixture smells unpleasant, however. Therefore, the Nabu advises against using the liquid manure for houseplants. Although added rock flour can bind the smell somewhat, it is still better to place the container for fermentation at a certain distance from the balcony, terrace and neighbors. The resulting liquid fertilizer is diluted with water in a ratio of 1:10 and distributed with a watering can.

Speaking of fertilizer: the wild herb has another good property. The nettle is a so-called indicator plant. Where the nettle grows, the soil should be rich in nitrogen – a nutrient that would otherwise have to be added with fertilizers.

Despite the many good reasons for letting the wild plant grow in the garden, you shouldn’t overdo it. In other words: it’s better not to let the nettle grow uncontrollably. The nettle spreads rapidly underground in the soil with rhizomes and also sows offspring.

Therefore, you should give the plant a corner in the garden where it can develop freely. However, if you have large nettle (Urtica dioica) on your property, the most common type, it is worth putting a root barrier in the ground. This means that growth will be limited to a specific location.

The original for this article “A plant is surprisingly useful in the garden” comes from