Getting rid of Stinging Nettle - Knowledgebase Question

Woodstock, VT
Question by WWBears
April 23, 1998
My pastures and perinenial beds have been invaded with what I think is stinging nettle (the leaves and stems acovered with tiny hairs). when you touch this plant, you get a nasty sting, like a bee or wasp sting, that raises large welts on the skin. We have tried getting rid of it with repeated applications of Roundup, and it dies back but then regrows, seemingly more vigrous than before treatment. I have a number of large (and growing larger) patches in the sheep pasture as well as numerous plants showing up in the flower beds and vegetable gardens. The sheep won't eat it and obviously encountering it in the garden have very painful consequences. I hope you have some suggestions on how to get rid of this unplesant plant!
P.S. Enjoyed your program on VPR last night.


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Answer from NGA
April 23, 1998

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Glad you enjoyed Charlie's appearance on VPR - I'll pass your comment along! It sounds like he didn't mention control of stinging nettle, though. The good news is that they indicate yours is a rich, moist, fertile soil! There isn't a fast organic solution, but at least it works: use a sharp, long handled hoe to cut the plant below the soil line, and/or dig out the root masses with a fork and thick gloves. Dry roots and plant in the sun before composting them. Be vigilant and continue this practice throughout the summer until you exhause the roots' ability to send up new plants. Other than that, you can cut them once and cover the area with boards or layer upon layer of thick mulch. Also, if the sheep are rotationally grazed in small paddocks, they may still shun the nettles as food, but will probably trample them to bits. Research with grazing rotation shows that when done properly, you can acheive the desired mix of nutritious pasture plants and eliminate "weeds". If you want more info on rotational grazing, let us know!

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