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How to Kill Stinging Nettles

By Linda Allardice ; Updated September 21, 2017

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are nasty perennial weeds that have needles waiting to brush up against your skin, making it burn. The irritation can last several hours or several days. The weed has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes to treat ailments such as muscle pain, enlarged prostate, urinary tract infections, and hay fever. It can be used to make tea, soup or even pudding. They are also the host plant where Red Admiral butterflies lay their eggs.

Killing Stinging Nettles

Put on your gloves and grab your loppers. Since stinging nettles can grow 3 to 7 feet high, it's best to lop off most of the plant to give you more maneuverability when digging it up.

Get the pitchfork and dig around the base, once the top of the plant has been removed. The roots of the stinging nettle are deep and widespread. Try to remove as much of the root base as possible. Return to the patch in about two weeks and pull up any new stinging nettles that may have sprouted from the broken roots.

Pull out dead plants or new sprouts by hand. If it is late fall and the weed has mostly died back, it might be loose enough to pull directly out of the ground. Likewise, new sprouts can be yanked out by grabbing at the base and pulling straight up.

Apply weed killer if necessary. Popular garden weed killers can also be used to kill stinging nettles. Most chemicals require spraying several applications onto the weed causing it to die back. The chemical treatment will eventually make its way into the root system, killing the weed. This could take up to three weeks.

 

Things You Will Need

  • garden loppers
  • pitchfork
  • weed killer
  • heavy-duty garden gloves
  • long-sleeve shirt
  • long pants

Tip

  • If "stung" by a stinging nettle, the irritation will go away on its own in a few minutes to a few hours. A folk remedy for relieving the sting is to rub crushed rosemary, mint, sage, or even the leaves of the nettle itself on the irritated skin.

Warning

  • Take extra care when using chemical week killers. Wear protective clothing and a mask. Follow directions exactly as stated on the product you are using.

About the Author

 

Linda Allardice has been a writer since 1983. She has written for "The Standard-Times" and "The Herald News" in Massachusetts, as well as for "Link-Up Magazine." Allardice holds a Bachelor of Arts in business management from Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I.