Weed of the Month: Purple Deadnettle

  • Purple DeadnettleCommon name: Purple deadnettle
  • Scientific name: Lamium purpureum
  • Grass or broadleaf: Winter annual broadleaf
  • Native to Europe and Asia, and widespread across the United States
  • Purple deadnettle develops in the fall and forms a small rosette of leaves that can overwinter. It can easily be identified by its broad, egg-shaped leaves that are often red- or purple-tinged. This weed dons blue-to-purple flowers, living up to its name.
  • Completing its development in early spring, the plant forms flowers and then seeds. It dies in late spring to early summer, soon after seeding.
  • The weed resembles the henbit, a close cousin. The square stems of purple deadnettle and henbit are common characteristics for members of the mint family.
  • Commonly, this weed is present in areas where the soil has been disturbed, such as in fields, winter grain crops, gardens and orchards and along buildings.
  • Without any competition, the weed can spread rapidly, producing 27,000 seeds per plant. Sources report purple deadnettle seed can be viable after 660 years.1

Fast Facts

  • Purple deadnettle belongs to the mint family.
  • This weed thrives in nutrient-rich, sandy soils.
  • It can reach heights up to 18 inches.2
  • Although considered a weed, purple deadnettle is a food source to pollinators in early spring, providing pollen and nectar to several species of bees.

A fact that may surprise you …

  • In olden days, this plant family was commonly referred to as “archangels,” which is believed to refer to the clusters of hooded flowers appearing like a “choir of robed figures,” according to the University of Tennessee.2

Purple deadnettle control/management tips

Herbicides can provide good to excellent control of existing purple deadnettle and henbit. Fall and early spring treatments generally are more effective than postemergence treatment.1

A popular burndown treatment, the combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D, along with other residual herbicides, can provide broad-spectrum control of weeds including purple deadnettle. Atrazine also can be effective. If you use paraquat, control of purple deadnettle may improve by adding metribuzin.3

Cool conditions may slow activity of some burndown herbicides. Contact herbicides may work more quickly in cool temperatures. Consider the weather forecast, and assume weed reaction to be slower in colder conditions.

Dow AgroSciences weed control solutions:

SureStart® II herbicide
Resicore® herbicide
Keystone® NXT herbicide
Keystone® LA NXT herbicide 

FulTime® NXT herbicide
Surpass® NXT herbicide 
Durango® DMA® herbicide
Duramax® herbicide
Enlist Duo® herbicide, as part of the Enlist weed control system

Sonic® herbicide
Surveil® herbicide
Durango® DMA® herbicide
Duramax® herbicide
Enlist Duo® herbicide, as part of the Enlist weed control system

Additional information:

More information can be found through these weed science resources:
Purple Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum L.), Michigan State University
Purple Deadnettle and Henbit, University of Tennessee

1Michigan State University. 2017. Purple Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum L.)
2Steckel, L. Purple Deadnettle and Henbit
3Hager, A. 2011. Dealing With Henbit, Purple Deadnettle In No-Till Fields

®™Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow. FulTime NXT, Keystone LA NXT and Keystone NXT are federally Restricted Use Pesticides. Duramax, Durango DMA, FulTime NXT, Keystone LA NXT, Keystone NXT, Resicore, Sonic, SureStart II, Surpass NXT and Surveil are not registered for sale or use in all states. FulTime NXT, Keystone LA NXT, Keystone NXT, Resicore, SureStart II and Surpass NXT are not available for sale, distribution or use in Nassau and Suffolk counties in the state of New York. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state.  Enlist Duo herbicide is not registered for sale or use in all states or counties. Contact your state pesticide agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your area. Enlist herbicides are the only 2,4-D products authorized for use in Enlist crops. Always read and follow label directions.