Nettle Cultivation Practices-From Open Field to Modern Hydroponics: A Case Study of Specialized Metabolites

Plants (Basel). 2022 Feb 11;11(4):483. doi: 10.3390/plants11040483.


Conventional agricultural production faces numerous challenges due to the pronounced effects of climate change, particularly global warming, and drought more than ever before in history, with the primary concern being to produce adequate yields and high-quality, nutritious plant material. Likewise, people are increasingly looking for new sources of food and are becoming aware of the importance of a varied diet and its connection to health. In this sense, stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) stands out as a valuable species that is neglected as a food source, as it has a significant content of specialized metabolites, and thus has an extremely high potential for use both nutritionally and pharmacologically, but is still traditionally collected from natural habitats, so it can be of questionable quality and undefined chemical composition. Therefore, sustainable agricultural practices are increasingly shifting to modern hydroponic cultivation methods in greenhouses. The advantage lies in the easier management and control of a number of factors during cultivation (air temperature and relative humidity, balanced and rational fertilization, minimization of nitrate uptake, etc.), ensuring better conditions for the growth and development of nettle according to its needs. The aim of this review is to give an overview of the technology of stinging nettle cultivation in the field and to show the possibilities of cultivation with modern hydroponic techniques to obtain a final product of consistent and uniform quality, high content of specialized metabolites and significant nutritional value. Research on this topic is still sparse but will certainly increase in the future. Therefore, this review provides all the necessary data for such future studies.

Keywords: Urtica dioica; bioactive compounds; cultivated nettle; functional properties; soilless systems; stress factors.

Publication types

  • Review