Plant Description

Lamium maculatum

Lamium Beacon Silver (at front)

Lamium - sometimes known as 'dead nettle', because their silver-variegated leaves look superficially like those of nettles - are excellent groundcover plants to brighten up shady spots. The foliage seems particularly good in winter; it can be cut back when it starts to look shabby in summer, and it will regenerate.This plant does enjoy some moisture in the soil but is tolerant of dry times, especially if some organic matter is incorporated into the soil at the time of planting. They spread by creeping stems that take root and form new plants, and are easily propagated by detaching rooted segments. They may need to be reined in every so often, especially in moist soil! If they look ratty in summer, you can cut them back and they will regenerate well.

The glittering heart-shaped leaves of Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' (ht 15 cm) are almost completely silver except for a narrow green margin, and it has crisp white hooded flowers in spring.The cultivar 'Beacon Silver' has mauve-pink flowers and 'Pink Pewter' has soft pink blooms. Flowers appear in spring and may continue through summer. These groundcovers are good companion plants for hybrid hellebores and snowflakes, which flower in late winter, and pretty Cape primroses (Streptocarpus cultivars), which flower in summer. They also form a pretty underplanting to spring-flowering shrubs such as Rhaphiolepis, Brunfelsia or Loropetalum.

There are some gorgeous gold-leaved versions of this Lamium, but though I have tried them a few times, I have never had any success with them. Perhaps they do better in a cooler climate than Sydney. Note that the species Lamium galeobdolon, with silver-marked leaves and yellow flowers, is an aggressive, invasive form, and is not recommended except in hopeless dry spots where nothing else will grow. Even so, keep an eye on it! Its cultivar 'Hermann's Pride' is a bit better behaved than the species.

The flowers of Lamium maculatum are regarded as providing useful food sources for bees and moths.

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Lamium maculatum
Flowers Jan, Feb, Sep, Oct, Nov
Plant Family: Lamiaceae

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