Bugleweed, Ajuga

The bugleweed has colorful leaves and can be used as an alternative groundcover for a lawn in shady areas.

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Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
Botanical name: Ajuga sp.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 9

Great low-maintenance perennial grown for its colorful foliage and groundcover habit. Produces profuse blue flower spikes about six inches tall in spring; sporadic blooms throughout summer into fall. Bugleweed's flowers are breathtaking in the spring when planted in mass. Semi-evergreen to evergreen. Some selections feature variegated foliage and bloom colors in white, pink and rose. Plant size is six to nine inches tall and as wide.

How to use it: In masses and containers. Use along the border or as edging in a mixed perennial border or shade garden. Tuck it in between stepping stones. Use as an alternative groundcover for lawn in shady areas. Combine with contrasting colors like creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea') or spring-flowering bulbs.

Culture: Prefers a rich, moist, well-drained site and tolerates clay and poor soils. Plant in full sun to shade. Be careful about planting bugleweed next to a turf area because it has creeping tendencies; install edging to help keep it from spreading. To deadhead spent blooms, run a lawn mower over groundcover. Propagated through seed, cuttings or division. Division can be done at anytime of the year and should be done every two to three years to avoid crowding. No serious pest or disease problems; may have crown rot problems, especially in hot and humid climates or areas with poor air circulation.

Special notes: Excellent low-growing, evergreen groundcover. Spreads by underground runners (or stolons) that form a dense mat of foliage. Not tolerant of heavy foot traffic. Attracts wildlife, including bees. Warning: Bugleweed can become invasive, particularly in well-watered lawns.

Selected cultivars and species

  • A. genevensis 'Pink Beauty'. Produces dark pink blooms on three- to four-inch flower spikes. Good for rock gardens.

  • A. reptans 'Burgundy Glow'. Featuring multicolored foliage with creamy white, green and dark pink. Produces little blue flower spikes which contrast nicely with the variegated foliage. Not as vigorous as the species.

  • A. reptans 'Catlin's Giant'. One of the largest cultivars. Has large-sized leaves that are dark green to deep purple in color. Also features large blue flower spikes.

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