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Lamium Maculatum Care

Lamium maculatum or spotted dead-nettle a species of plants from the Lamiaceae (mint) family, is indigenous to temperate Asia and Europe. It is found growing in an assortment of habitats, from woodlands to open grasslands, in moist and fertile soils at altitudes from sea level to 3,937 feet.

This prostrate perennial is variable in leaf size, shape, and flower colors. Its height also varies, from 2 to 36 inches. It has hairy, erect, and hollow stems that only branch out at the base.

The downy or hairy leaves are saw-toothed, around 8 inches long, colored green with a silver or white stripe along the midvein, along with other markings or variegations among the various cultivars. The long stalks attaching the leaves to the stems are about 0.7 – 1.5 inches long. Their shapes vary from oval- to heart-shaped. 

The flower heads bear 2 – 8 flowers about 0.7 – 1.18 inches long. The petals on top of the flower are shaped like a helmet while the lower petals are somewhat whitish and dotted with different colors.

The color of the flowers varies, from purple, pink, mauve, or white, depending on variety, attracting bees and bumblebees to pollinate and harvest nectar.

The flowering period lasts from April until November. When the flowers fade, tiny, green unremarkable fruits appear, hidden among the leafy areas of the flower heads that later change to brown when mature. Each fruit has four compartments containing single seeds.

These perennials are prized as ground cover under the shade that spreads and populates a bare patch of ground that usually exists under trees.

They can be evergreen in warm regions or partially-shaded areas of your garden. In other climates, depending on environmental conditions, they are likely to be largely semi-evergreen plants, both their foliage and their flowers make a colorful impact on the garden. 

These plants stay fairly short, with the typical variety being less than a foot high, but their variegated attractive foliage can spread out to 2 or 3 times its height. They are usually grown largely for their attractive variegated foliage rather than for their pretty flowers, but their overall appearance can be enhanced by the flowers, as well.

Sometimes, a few leaves might revert to being all green in color and lose their variegation. Always prune these leaves away to prevent the plant from turning entirely green and eventually changing its appearance of the plant.

As they are creepers with a propensity to spread, these cottage-garden plants have become widespread flowering ground covers. As mentioned, they are particularly valued for growing in shaded spots, something that most plants dislike.

The silver-variegated foliage of these plants makes them good to fit into landscape designs of creative color schemes in combination with other flowering plants. Several varieties have been developed, largely for their colored and variegated foliage.

Be warned though, that it can rapidly colonize an area and become invasive if provided with an appropriate growing environment. Their stems take root wherever they touch the soil and this allows the plant to spread. So you have to be careful when selecting the spot to cultivate this plant.

Ultimately, it will spread to form a colorful mat. This is good if you want to cover and transform an unsightly area into a lovely mat of ground cover, but not so great if you are attempting to cultivate them in a location where you want a plant that behaves well and doesn’t crowd other plants. 

It usually grows taller in spring while flattening to the ground during colder weather. If it is exposed to light frost, it will recuperate in spring when it enters its growing phase.

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Sunlight

These plants thrive in full or partial shaded conditions. They don’t require plenty of water when growing under full shade, a detail together their deer and pest resistance makes them ideal for gardeners due to their low maintenance for growing in their landscapes. 

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Water

As mentioned, these plants tolerate fully shaded areas with dry soil with very little watering. They require very minimal care if they’re planted under full shade. However, these plants require more watering if they are exposed to more sunshine, as they grow better in evenly moistened soil. 

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Humidity

They grow well with moderate levels of humidity and can’t tolerate high humidity.

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Temperature

They can tolerate a varied range of temperatures, but don’t grow well in very hot and humid areas. If the summers are very hot and humid, their foliage might attract diseases, wilt and die. Their ideal temperature is between 55 and 65°F.

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Soil

Grow these plants in a slightly acidic, well-draining, compost-rich soil. If your soil is clayey, amend it with compost to help improve drainage.

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Repotting

If you’re growing these plants in containers, they will need repotting occasionally to stay healthy. However, repotting is often stressful for plants, so it’s essential to repot carefully and not frequently.

Usually, repotting is necessary if the plants get root bound or over-crowded. Frequent pruning of long stalks will help keep the plants to a manageable size as well as increase the intervals between repotting.

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Propagation

They are propagated from seeds, by division, or from root cuttings in spring. Seeds however take 1 – 2 months to germinate. Select a spot in your garden where you want to plant the seeds and scatter them. Once seeds are sown, cover them lightly with topsoil and keep the soil damp.

Division of the plants is also done in spring. Dig into the middle of the plant using a shovel to split the plant, dig up a section and replant in a prepared spot filled with suitable soil, and water it deeply.

Take cuttings in spring or summer. Examine the stems for rooted sections and cut them before the roots. Dig them out and replant them elsewhere in suitable soil. 

The last two methods are faster and easier than using seeds.

Additional Care

Compost is sufficient, as these plants don’t require fertilizing. Manure tea can be used as an alternative if it is difficult to work compost into the soil around the plant.

Common Problems

These plants face very few problems growing in the north and are deer-resistant. In the warmer south, however, they might develop issues from leaf-spot, due to high humidity. This can be prevented by providing more spacing between the plants, but this defeats the advantage of growing these plants since the main reason they are planted is to grow as ground cover and prevent weeds. 

They are also predisposed to attracting downy mildew under humid conditions. Examine them frequently when environmental settings are suitable for mildew development.

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