Urtica dioica Open-pollinated. Biodynamic gardeners use nettles to increase the potency of neighboring herbs, and to stimulate humus formation. An indicator of very fertile soil where it volunteers. Young shoots and leaves are delicious steamed as spring greens, very high in minerals and protein. Dried, the leaves make a great hair rinse, are good for steepin in a bath, or for chicken feed. Choose your spot carefully; the spreading rhizomes as well as the leaves can sting. Cooking removes the sting. Plant in damp rich soil with high nitrogen content; especially likes composted manure piles or the leaky side of your lushest compost bin. Chill the seed before sowing to improve germination. Takes 10–14 days to come up and grows 3–6'. Perennial. Zone 2. ~6,000 seeds/g. ①
About medicinal herbs: Archeological evidence dates the medicinal use of herbs back 60,000 years to the Neanderthals. 85% of the world’s population employ herbs as medicines, and 40% of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. contain plant-derived materials. Fewer than 10% of higher plant species have been investigated for their medicinal components. Interest in traditional herbal remedies continues to grow.
Statements about medicinal use of plants have not been evaluated by the FDA, and should not be used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any ailment. Before using or ingesting any medicinal plant, consult a healthcare practitioner familiar with botanical medicine.
Using herbs: Drying herbs at home is not difficult. Whole leaves retain their flavor at least a year. To substitute fresh herbs for dried in cooking, use triple the dried quantity called for in a recipe.
Culture: Some herbs are customarily grown from divisions because they cannot come true from seed, such as scented thymes and flavored mints. Some require fall sowing of fresh seed, such as sweet cicely and angelica, and these become available in August or September.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.