The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

The wonder of Nettles!


We all hate them and moan about them but they do have their uses apart from the culinary ones.
We have a large field/meadow at the back which our chickens roam on and that’s about all the use it gets. We are slowly planting trees and hedging the edges, but the nettle beds are rampant!
However, we have had loads (hundreds) of caterpillars on them, some the black ones on the photo’s and some yellow and black ones.
The black spiky ones are Peacock butterflies and the others Small Tortishell butterflies, so most of the beds of nettles got a reprieve, OH was informed and instructed not to cut them down.
The yellow/black ones were not in evidence when I went to take the photo’s, so you just get pictures of the others and an overview of the size of one of the nettle beds!
Next time you see some nettles in your garden leave them if you can, you may be helping the Peacock butterflies and will be able to enjoy them flitting amongst the flowers.

More blog posts by honeysucklegold

Previous post: Green Woodpecker fledglings

Next post: Ref: Toadflax query, Badfish



You would never guess they were going to develop into gorgeous peacocks would you? You're in for a treat when they all develop.

30 Jun, 2014


I always have a patch of nettles in the garden, also all the way along the drive at the edge of the wood but never seen any caterpillars on them yet. Would not take them out though just in case one year the butterflies use them. Great to see the caterpillars enjoying them so much. :O)

1 Jul, 2014


Dr Francis Pryor (Archeologist) writes that a patch of nettles on land is evidence of a former settlement. That people lived in a Round House on that land. It signifies there is nitrogen still in the soil after 1,000 years.
Fascinating !

1 Jul, 2014


I have loads behind my fence,which we have access to,but it's not our land..I have always left them well alone,for that reason.Also,I had heard that if nettles grow in your garden,it must be decent looks there is some truth in that,Diane,even if it's only Nitrogen..

1 Jul, 2014


@ Bloomer...if having nettles in the garden means you have decent soil the my soil must be magnificent !!!!....I cut the stems half way down put them in a 10 gallon water bucket (full of water of course) and let them ferment.....stir them up one a stinks like ****. I then use the liquid to water the garden...the tomatoes and cucumbers seem to love it.

1 Jul, 2014


Lol, must be good stuff, if it stinks like that :o) and better than all the bought plant food sold commercially..and free ! reason of all :o)

1 Jul, 2014


They actually improve the soil too - I knew of a very old blackcurrant which had been abandoned to the nettles and they rejuvenated it and started it fruiting again.

1 Jul, 2014


Thank you for all your comments, interesting bunch, must try the plant food one - we have the makings of so much, it would be a sin to not try it! As for the settlement comment, this particular bunch is growing on a 'hummock' of spoil from when we had an extension built and this was dumped up in the meadow. Not sure about it being good soil, as it is full of builders rubble, cobbles (might rescue them) and any other garbage the builders couldn't be bothered to sort out of the soil. Still it's good for the drainage.
Other than this heap we are on clay, not the slightly sticky sort, this dries to brick hardness in the summer and cracks open, amazing how anything can grow in it. The mile-a-minute vine took three years to grow to it's now proud eight foot! Mind you it did just get stuck in, no help with compost off the heap, straight into solid clay, thought it wouldn't need any help as it is so rampant usually!
Strangely when you do dig a hole the clay is full of worms, loads of them, but you turn the compost heap which is ready for use and there are none - why?
Great to leave the nettles, but look at all that lovely crop of seeds!

2 Jul, 2014


Could it be that the worms leave the compost heap when they've finished turning it into compost and there's no more stuff to process?

2 Jul, 2014


I had a nice clump in the garden, which I kept for several years because of Ladybirds .... but I never see any.
So I took the nettles away.
I understand they make good liquid for feeding plants with :)

2 Jul, 2014


Thanks for this blog, Honeysucklegold. I discovered some nettles growing in one of my flower beds in a less travelled part of my garden yesterday...and since I had no gloves at hand I left them to be pulled another time! ...Now I'm going to leave them.
Discovering the history of the property we inhabit can be such a dig site. I've made a flourishing flower bed out of an old tip. The soil here on the hillside is mostly sandy but this area is a bit silty (it's beside the stream) and was rich with neglect.

24 May, 2015


I read somewhere that butterflies only lay their eggs on nettles that are in the sun. Sadly all ours are in the shade...

24 May, 2015

Add a comment

Featured on

Recent posts by honeysucklegold

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    25 Feb, 2011

  • Gardening with friends since
    17 Jan, 2012

  • Gardening with friends since
    9 Aug, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    22 Jun, 2011

  • Gardening with friends since
    26 Feb, 2008