Sunday, 30 September 2018

Stinging nettles as a houseplant?? (and pics of glorious chaos)

Why not?

I've grown dandelions in pots on my kitchen windowsill - and let me tell you, a bitter/sweet fresh leaf to nibble on was a very welcome gift in January, (and February, March, and most of April) while I waited for spring. So why not nettles?

I can't imagine I'll get enough nettles for eatin', but that's not why I'd be growing them anyway. What I want them for is this:

little hypodermic needles of joint pain relief!!

Towards the end of this gawdawfully hot & humid summer it finally dawned on me to try urtication on my aching hip and it was wildly successful.

A gentle brushing and/or light whipping (yes really) of nettle tops on the ol' hip, which caused maybe 5 minutes worth of "oooh, OW, ow-ow-ow-ow OW!" (my husband chuckling in the background) resulted in days - DAYS - of pain relief. So hell yeah, I want some of that available through the winter in case the hip (which has settled since the heat dissipated but you never know) needs some help.

So, after each time I used a sprig to stab myself relieve the aching hip, I plunked it in a jar of plain old water to see what would happen. Here's what happened:

Well, gee, that was easy ..

At this time of year, the nettles are flowering and going to seed (if you look closely at the sprig on the right, you'll see teeny flowers at the top). We don't eat them at this stage because they're tough and fibrous, but they're fine for urtication purposes (and apparently rooting).

If you're not familiar with stinging nettles, here's what to keep an eye out for on your walks right about now:

click to embiggen so you can see the dangling seeds
the purple flowers are asters

The plants might be leaning like the above, they might be standing tall. The seeds might be turning brown, they might still be white and flowering. They vary widely in autumn, but the stingers are a dead giveaway. No stingers? Not nettles.

If you look along the stems or at the base of the plant, you might see this:


Fresh growth of delectable new nettle sprouts.

If I don't eat all of these when they get a little bigger (my money says I will though) I'll pick some to root alongside my others. Chances are I'll get a better houseplant that way.

Stinging nettles thrive when the weather is cool & moist, and they prefer some shade. Sounds like mine will be happiest in the bathroom. I can picture it now, when anyone comes to visit -

"UM, is this a pot of NETTLES in your bathroom??"

Hahahaha - worth it just for that. Yes, I is just a little crazy ..

In the pictures above, you'll note that my nettles are lurking amongst other plants; they're really at their happiest that way, when they think they're invisible and they can sneak up on you. Except .. maybe I should grant I could be wrong about that, maybe they do just fine in a more formal setting .. I really wouldn't know because my garden is always gloriously chaotic.

In the "medicine plant beds" - asters, evening primrose, mallows, St J'swort, motherwort,
burdock, sunchokes, monarda, echinacea(2 kinds), violets, lady's mantle,
thyme, clove pinks, barberry, stinging nettle, mullein, calendula, comfrey, kale, collards and other
leafy greens, catnip, creeping charlie, various ornamentals

Everything thrives here; the more the merrier. Even in this insanely challenging summer that was so hot, so humid, yet rarely produced any rain, it was a bumper crop of just about everything - and no, I never watered beyond making sure seedlings survived their first week or so.

I discovered that it's true what they say about chamomile in the garden boosting the growth of nearby plants - check out this mallow (malva sp) that came up really late - I put the seeds in in May, it didn't come up until August (wtf?), then grew into a monster right next to the chamomile, which it quickly overpowered:

the damn thing grew to 3 ft in a just over a month!

Here's leaf size between the monster and a "normal" one for comparison:


Yet a kale I originally had nearby hated the chamomile, it was yellow and sickly and had to be yanked out. Ditto a motherwort. I'm not entirely sure I will grow chamomile again. It was the only plant that attracted aphids in the whole garden and didn't actually do all that well.

Speaking of kale, it too is monstrous this year. Sadly, the heat has made it bitter and tough. The younger leaves are okay for soups right now, but the rest will have to wait til we get a frost to sweeten it up before I pick, blanch and freeze it. It had better sweeten up, it looks like there is easily a winter's worth there!

kale (and some parsley) on the left, comfrey on the right
past-its-prime phlox in the background
self seeded calendula here & there

I love fall, bittersweet though it may be. I love the chaos of my garden, too. I let things get a little out of control, sure, but it makes the birds and bees really happy. I took these pictures on a cool morning, but by afternoon, if the sun comes out, the bumble bees will be all over this aster .. and yes, it's insanely large and in the way, but who could deny bumble bees their last meal? Not us!

Asters at the foot of a plum tree, more comfrey to the right. The blue tarp
covers some of the winter's firewood. Beyond the bench, the wild roses and more,
wilder, white asters, and .. well .. too many other plants and trees to name .. 


  1. How joyful your garden/yard must be! So many friends gathered together, telling their stories, and sharing their blessings. I imagine they all might get loud on occasion? Ha ha