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By Luke Sumpter

The view of rows full of cannabis plants is certainly a sight to behold, but is it an optimal setting? Some growers do everything in their power to eliminate so called “weeds” and see them as a threat that will damage their crop and reduce the overall yield. The truth is, cannabis is an herb and can be grown just like all the other members of this botanical category. Cannabis does extremely well in biodiverse gardens surrounded by other plant species and an abundance of insect and microbial life.


Certain plants work particularly well side by side with cannabis and have earned the title of “companion plants”. This group of species can bring many benefits to the cannabis garden and the grower alike. Stinging nettle, or Urtica dioica, is one such species. Stinging nettle is an herbaceous perennial flowering plant belonging to the Urticaceae family and is native to Europe, parts of Asia, and North Africa. Nettle is actually quite similar to cannabis in the fact that it produces trichomes on its leaves. Yet instead of being cannabinoid factories, these trichomes have adapted to form a structure of hypodermic needles that inject histamines into any animal or human that happens to brush up against them.

Stinging nettle can greatly benefit your garden and the cannabis plants that grow in it. Chances are the species has already made a home of unused areas of your garden, where it has spread via rhizomes and seeds. In fact, many gardeners intentionally cultivate the species because of the benefits it can bring.


Planting stinging nettle within close proximity to your cannabis plants will come with a host of rewards. Firstly, stinging nettle is great at attracting beneficial insects into gardens due to the high amount of nectar present in the flowers. Species such as ladybugs find them irresistible and once they arrive, they’ll start mowing through any aphids and spider mites that pose as threats to your cannabis plants.

Not only do stinging nettles protect cannabis plants by boosting numbers of these helpful predators, they also reportedly make plants taste and smell better! This might seem too good to be true and the science isn’t entirely clear, but by planting stinging nettles close to your cannabis plants you will be tapping into a botanical synergy that will increase terpene production within cannabis flowers. This reaction is caused by male nettle pollen, a substance reported to also boost the taste of certain fruits and vegetables.

Terpenes are volatile aromatic hydrocarbons produced by trichome glands and give cannabis plants their signature smells and tastes. These interesting molecules have also been shown to boost the effects of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, via what is known as the entourage effect.



Like all plants, as stinging nettles grow, they pull nutrients from the soil to help carry out vital physiological processes. If left to reproduce and die, these plants eventually wilt back into the soil and these nutrients are broken back down and returned to the rhizosphere. However, whilst nettle is still alive and well you can take these nutritionally dense lifeforms and redirect these beneficial molecules elsewhere.

Stinging nettles are loaded with a wide array of nutrients, including amino acids, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and many vitamins. Cannabis plants are hungry for this array of macro- and micronutrients and by harvesting stinging nettles and adding them to your compost you can add them to your soil and help prevent deficiencies in your crop.

Compost piles are made up of a mix of brown carbon-rich materials, such as dead leaves and sticks, and green nitrogen-rich materials, such as fresh leaves and stems. Because nettles grow with ease and proliferate vigorously, they essentially provide a free composting material.

However, not all compost is solid. Many gardeners elect to make compost tea, which involves fermenting nutritious plants and other materials to create a nutrient-dense liquid that can be applied as a foliar spray to keep plants healthy and stave off deficiencies. Simply place this beneficial herb into a container of water and soak for up to 3 weeks to allow fermentation to occur. Strain the liquid and use at a fertiliser to water ratio of 1:10 when watering and 1:20 for foliar sprays.

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