The Purple Deadnettle – Is It a Good or a Bad Weed?

Have you heard about the Purple deadnettle and do you know about these types of weeds that produce beautiful purple leaves? Pretty as they are, the Purple deadnettle commonly grows on the roadsides and places where there is little activity that makes them grow rapidly and healthy. So why are we concerned about purple deadnettle? It’s because when it grows in our lawns, it becomes part of the unwanted plants and these plants are hard to get rid of. That’s why we are here to tell you how to get rid of the purple dead nettle and what kills purple deadnettle in many different ways.   

The Purple deadnettle’s scientific name is Lamium purpureum which is the cousin of the Henbit weed and they both belong to the family of mints. And we know that mint plants proliferate rapidly and grow aggressively especially if the soil and weather are favorable for them. This weed is common throughout Europe most especially in Norway, Israel, Britain, and even in Northern Africa, the Mediterranean, and Western Asia. 

If you let Purple deadnettle grow in your backyard because you get mesmerized by its beautiful violet leaves, think again because you may wake up one day to see so many of these plants sprout all over your lawn. This weed type can spread its seeds as early as autumn and a single plant can release thousands of seeds. And whenever their seeds land on the warm, damp soil, they germinate fast and grow rapidly and that’s why despite their glorious appearance, these hardy plants can be pesky to most homeowners. 

Purple Dead Nettle Uses

By the way, the purple you see on the Purple deadnettles are not the flowers but the young leaves on top of every stem. The flowers, however, are just small pinkish parts of the plant which attract bees and other pollinators. 

Moreover, not all is bad about the Purple deadnettle because aside from it can enliven an abandoned grassland with its beautiful violet leaves, it also has medicinal values, and most of the local natives of the countries where it grows recognize its benefits. Yes, some people still believe in the Purple dead nettle uses and so we should also appreciate them for their usefulness. And since they belong to the mint family we are not surprised by their medicinal values. 

So here are what we know  about the Purple dead nettle uses: 

🌷 It is popular among herbalists for use as an astringent, diaphoretic (cure for excessive sweating), diuretic (for expelling excessive sodium through urine), and purgative (for expelling intestinal worms). Use either the dried or fresh leaves. 

🌷 It is loaded with anti-inflammatory, antifungal and anti-bacterial properties and can be used by drinking its leaves as tea. Its leaves can also be made into a homemade balm and herbal salve to cure external wounds to prevent infections. Here is the link on how to make an herbal salve

🌷 When used as a tea concoction, a large amount can have a laxative effect in cleansing your colon. 

🌷 Can be used in the form of tincture. For those who want to know,how  Purple dead nettle is used to create a tincture – crush the leaves and prepare high-proof alcohol. Together with the crushed leaves, its juice, and the alcohol pour these in a clean jar. The proportion should be 1 part Purple deadnettle to 3 parts alcohol. Keep the tincture stored inside a dry cabinet and shake once a day. Then you can use it after 4 days and this can last from 4 to 5 years.

🌷 Taken as a tea, it can also benefit the kidneys by cleansing it and can help alleviate seasonal allergies especially the symptoms. 

🌷 Purple deadnettle is a spring plant, meaning it grows and blooms rapidly during spring until winter which helps attract pollinators that also help other plants and trees to pollinate their flowers. 

🌷 It can also be used as feed for small animals like chickens and rabbits. Chop it fresh and mix it along with the animal feeds and its nutritional qualities can help boost the immune system of these animals.   

Just a reminder, these benefits are based on people’s experiences so if you still have doubts about using it, better consult your doctor first or do more research.Even so, we cannot allow the Purple deadnettle to takeover  our grass because if you leave them there, their roots may not only affect the growth of your grass as it will cover most of the soil and derive sustenance while blemishing the beauty of your lawn. 

How to Get Rid of Purple Dead Nettle

First of all, you have to know that these weeds are hard to deal with compared to other annual weeds that only sprout during spring. The Purple deadnettle seeds spread out their seeds even before  spring has started. So even if you found a couple of Purple deadnettle sprouting on your lawn right after winter, you have to be alarmed because, in no time, more of these will be coming out anywhere in your grass. So how to get rid of Purple dead nettle if they can propagate so quickly?

Here is what you should do at first signs of growth:

🌿 Once you see them sprouting on the ground even when they are still small, uproot them as much as you can. Don’t cut them or mow the grass just to get rid of them because if you do that, they don’t die and their remaining stem may just get hard and continue to sprout new branches all year round. 

🌿 If you sow a new  lawn and these Purple deadnettles are widely growing in your area, consider choosing a grass variety that is more compatible with your climate and grows fast so that any new growth of the Purple deadnettle will be deprived of sunlight and prevent them out-competing soil nutrients with your grass.  

🌿 To prevent the Purple deadnettle to proliferate in your lawn, spray your grass with herbicides before they can spread their seeds and germinate. Choose selective pre-emergence herbicides that contain metsulfuron or trifloxysulfuron-sodium elements. These elements can stop the seeds from germinating while the grass with elongated leaves are left unharmed. 

🌿 Selective herbicides are designed to kill plants only based on the shapes of their leaves and the plant’s physiology. Since the Purple deadnettle are broadleaf while the grass have elongated leaves, only the broadleaf plants will be affected. Apply the chemical on the onset of winter or late fall before the germination period of the Purple deadnettle seeds to stop them on their tracks.

🌿 The Purple deadnettle seeds usually germinate in the fall and the seedlings can survive the snow in winter but will grow fast during spring.  If you want to change your grass for another variety, the fall season can be the right time to control their proliferation while they are still growing and not bearing flowers.  

🌿 And finally, try practicing the cultural method. Cultural method means doing preventive practice naturally without the use of any chemical or synthetic means for weed control. One best way of a cultural method of controlling weeds on lawns is by cutting the grass lower than usual then fertilizing and irrigating it so that the grass can grow faster than the weeds and restrict its growth.  

But if you want instant methods on how to get rid of Purple dead nettle, then we can advise you to  just kill it. But how?

What Kills Purple Deadnettle?  

What kills purple deadnettle can be done in 3 ways – biological control (natural control), chemical control, and combined mechanical and chemical control. 

  • Biological/Natural Control

As we have mentioned, you can use pre-emergence herbicides to prevent the seeds of the Purple deadnettle from germinating. But there are also what we call the post-emergence organic herbicides. And organic means these are made of natural materials that are not toxic to plants, animals, and to the soil’s beneficial microorganisms. 

A good example of these are products formulated with pelargonic acid like the Scythe product. This product can be bought in agricultural supply stores. However, although it’s formulated to kill broadleaf weeds, this is a non-selective herbicide which means it can kill all types of broadleaf weeds but can still affect grass if used in large amounts but can effectively kill even the newly-sprouted seedlings of the Purple deadnettle.  So if you’re visiting an agricultural or garden supply store better ask the seller what organic herbicide is better for broadleaf control.

  • Chemical Control

The most popular chemical herbicides that can kill Purple deadnettle are those that are formulated with 2,4-D, fluroxypyr, and dicamba. These selective chemicals are more effective while the Purple deadnettle weeds are young or are still sprouting. But if the plants get bigger and the climate gets cold, the weeds can bounce back to life. So the better season to use these broadleaf killers is during summer. The chemicals plus the UV rays from the sun can kill the plants starting from the yellowing of their leaves and wilting of their stems. 

You can also use the Roundup for Lawns which can kill many different kinds of broadleaf on grass but will not hurt the grass itself. This product has been used for years by commercial companies tending huge lawns like golf courses and parks. But take note, don’t use the Roundup herbicide only but choose the Roundup for Lawns which is the selective type for Roundups and specially formulated to kill broadleaves only. 

For precaution, if you have a small backyard lawn, use it by utilizing spot application only using a hand spray, and don’t apply it throughout your grass because this has strong chemical components. On green turfs like golf courses, you can spray it evenly using power sprayers. 

  • Mechanical Control and Chemical Control

One of the better ways how to get rid of Purple dead nettle is by disrupting the soil through mechanical means by plowing the soil during spring or summer. Plowing the soil can bury shallow- rooted plants including their seeds until they rot and die. Moreover, plowing the soil usually happens during the initial phase of land preparation for lawn building or after applying neutralizing agents to the soil like lime to reduce acidity. 

After the soil has been plowed and let it rest for about a week or more, it can now be prepared for landscaping. Remember that the seeds of the Purple deadnettle are encased with tough coverings so these are protected and hard to destroy. So just to be sure that the Purple deadnettle seeds won’t be able to sprout, including other weeds, better spray the soil with a post-emergence herbicide. 

 Considerations When Preventing Weed  Growth or Killing Purple Deadnettle

You have two things to consider when choosing products on what kills purple deadnettle. You can either choose the liquid form or the granular form. The liquid herbicides are quick to work on weeds and you can see the effect on the leaves in just 2 or 3 days. It can also be applied through spot treatment. The only problem with liquid herbicides is because we need to mix them up with water, the chance of chemical leakage to the natural water bodies is strongly possible once we apply it on the grass. And you cannot spray it in a windy environment or it may affect other plants nearby.  

The granular forms, on the other hand, are easier to handle and there is no need to mix them with water. You can use a spreader and the work can be done easily on large areas of green turf. And the best way to apply granular herbicides is during the early morning or after watering the grass with the sprinklers just when the grass blades are still wet with dew or water. However, granules take longer to act on plants but they last longer once they take effect. They are not prone to leakage as they don’t easily disintegrate with water. 


The Purple deadnettle has finally found its way into the medicinal world of herbs and now many people recognize purple dead nettle to be more natural than using synthetic relief medications. Yet, beautiful as they are, they can be bothersome for any lawn owners especially to those who maintain their greens for commercial purposes. 

So this blog hopefully has given you effective advice starting from the Purple deadnettle’s medicinal values to how to prevent it from growing in your turf to killing it as it can aggressively take over  your grass space and damage the beauty of your lawn.  For more Gardening tips click here.

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