Spotted Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum)
Despite its unattractive name, Spotted Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) is an attractive, versatile groundcover. Its variegated leaves and spunky flowers add brightness to shady areas of residential yards. A perennial plant, in warmer climates it is evergreen, but in regions with cold winters it loses its leaves at frost time. Virtually pest and disease free, this plant requires very little care.
Size: Spotted deadnettle is a fast growing trailing plant, occasionally sending out stems that may be as long as 6 feet. Its low growing foliage forms clumps from which emerge square flower stems, characteristic of the mint family to which it belongs. These stems are typically from 8 to 12 inches tall.
Foliage: Deadnettle foliage is attractive all season, and in warmer climates, all year. Leaves grow opposite each other along the trailing stems and flower stems. They are about 1 1/2 inches long and heart shaped and edged with rounded teeth. Their beauty is in their variegation, either gray green or creamy colored centers surrounded by green. Some have silvery variegation (see "Better Varieties" below). In the fall the foliage of some turns pinkish or purple.
Flowers: Toward the tips of the flower stems whorls of tiny flowers, each 1/2 to 1 inch long appear in late spring. Sometimes they are tucked among tiny leaves. The 2-petaled flowers appear hooded because the top petal protrudes over the lower one. Depending on the variety of deadnettle, flowers may be pinkish lavender, rose or white. They bloom until midsummer.
Spotted Deadnettle Choices
`Alba' has white flowers;
`Aureum' has yellowish leaves, pink flowers and must have shade and moisture;
`Beacon Silver' has silver leaves with narrow green borders, pink flowers;
`White Nancy' has silver and green leaves, white flowers. `Roseum' has pink flowers.
A closely related plant once included with the deadnettles is called Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon). It is also an attractive groundcover, having variegated green and silver pointed leaves and small yellow flowers.
`Herman's Pride' mounds neatly and is 8 inches tall.