Ajuga, also known as bugleweed, bugle, common bugle, carpetweed, carpet bugleweed and few more variations on the theme, is a treasure for any gardener. It has an unbelievable growth speed. This means that in a couple of months it will have tripled in size and covered a good part of your bare ground. It forms a very low mat of leaves and in late spring produces plenty of blue flower spikes.
Here is why you should be growing Ajuga:
• It produces beautiful blue flowers
• It flowers earlier than most perennials
• It is very low maintenance
• It has highly decorative leaves
• It covers the ground very efficiently
• It is decorative also during the winter
Did you like what you have read? Who wouldn’t. The next task is to choose the right Ajuga variety.
- Ajuga Varieties
- Caring for ajuga
- Design with Ajuga
- Propagating Ajuga Plants – How To Propagate Bugleweed Plants
- Propagation of Ajuga Plants
- How to Propagate Bugleweed
- How to Propagate Ajuga Plants?
- Ajuga reptans L.
- Ajuga Ground Cover – How To Grow And Care For Ajuga Plants
- Growing Ajuga Bugleweed
- Caring for Carpet Bugle Plants
- Ajuga, Bugle, Bugleweed, Carpet Bugle ‘Valfredda’
We are growing (or have tried) the following varieties in our garden. All the information in this page is based on our own experience with these plants.
Ajuga reptans Catlin’s Giant
This is an ajuga variety that I would highly recommend. It spread quickly, forming a tight and low carpet of leaves. And what leaves these are! Ajuga Catlin’s Giant has very thick, bronze leaves that look great in any flower bed and can be used to create stunning designs in your garden. But wait, there’s more. The leaves of ajuga Catlin’s Giant are very hardy and tough and do not die back during the winter. In winters with little snow, in early spring and late autumn the leaves of Catlin’s Giant will cheer you up and add colour and charm to your garden. It is basically worth growing ajuga just for its leaves. Although the beautiful blue spikes it produces are a very welcome addition! This bugleweed grows well in full sun or in partial shade. You can continue reading about Catlin’s Giant below in the “caring for ajuga” section.
Ajuga Catlin’s Giant showing both sides of its leavesStachys and Ajuga Catlin’s Giant covered with frost
Ajuga reptans is another great bugleweed for your garden. In its hardiness, growth speed, flowers and easiness it resembles ajuga Catlin’s Giant. They differ only in their leaves. Ajuga reptans has greener, slimmer leaves than Catlin’s Giant. Concluding, both varieties are worth buying, but the bronze ajuga has more decorative leaves.
Ajuga reptans and CytisusAjuga and Thymus citriodorus variegata
Ajuga reptans Burgundy Glow
Ajuga Burgundy Glow is a variegated bugleweed. Its leaves are green, white and burgundy, which of course is very decorative. BUT, variegated plants have usually one defect. They tend to be less winter hardy than regular varieties. This is exactly what happened to our ajuga Burgundy Glow. It did not survive the first winter in our garden. I would not recommend choosing this ajuga variety for people living in the North.
Ajuga reptans “Burgundy Glow”, 22.06.15
Caring for ajuga
It is very difficult to kill an ajuga plant. Even if you try hard. Let me share a story with you. Few years ago, I planted some small ajuga plants next to a path. My father was unaware of this and not only walked on the bugleweed plants, but covered them with heavy stones and sand. We were sure to have lost the bugleweeds …. But, to our amazement, they survived and happily started growing.
This is my way of saying that even if you are a beginner gardener, you shouldn’t be scared of growing ajuga. You basically cannot do anything wrong!
If you wonder in what type of soil we plant ajuga, I will (with a little bit of embarrassment) answer that we plant them in our sandy soil (basically it is pure sand) without the addition of any compost, nor do we fertilise our ajuga plants.
Design with Ajuga
A flowerbed looks its best when you have plants of different heights. The shortest plants go in the front line, to be visible, to cover the ground and help fight the weeds. Ajuga is the ideal plant for this job! Depending on whether you want red in your flowerbed, choose either Ajuga reptans or Ajuga Catlin’s Giant.
I love the combination of the blue ajuga flowers and the yellow Cytisus. They make a great spring display!
I gladly give Ajuga our Amberway approval!
Flowering time: Late spring
Flower yield: Medium high
Sun exposure: ½ day
Pollinator attraction: High
Lowest temperature survived: -17°C
Propagating Ajuga Plants – How To Propagate Bugleweed Plants
Ajuga – also known as bugleweed – is a tough, low-growing ground cover. It offers bright, semi-evergreen foliage and showy flower spikes in amazing shades of blue. The vigorous plant grows in a carpet of shiny foliage and massed flowers, swiftly forming dense mats that require little maintenance.
Ajuga plant propagation is so easy that the plants easily become invasive, rambling across the lawn and into places in the garden reserved for other plants. Read on for information about propagating ajuga plants.
Propagation of Ajuga Plants
Growing ajuga is easier than getting rid of it, so take its rapid growth into account before you decide on ajuga plant propagation.
You’ll first want to prepare a garden space to plant your new ajuga. You’ll succeed best at ajuga plant propagation if you select a sunny area or one that is in light shade for the plant’s new home. Ajuga won’t flower well in full shade.
Ajuga plants do best in moist, fertile soil. It’s a good idea to work in humus or other organic material to the soil before planting time.
How to Propagate Bugleweed
You can start propagating ajuga plants from plant seeds or by division.
One way to start propagating ajuga plants is by planting seeds. If you decide to do this, sow ajuga plant seeds in containers in fall or spring. Just cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost and keep the soil moist.
The seeds germinate in a month or less. Prick out the individual plants and place in larger containers. In summer, move the young plants to your garden beds.
Ajuga spread by underground runners called stolons. These runners root the plant in nearby soil and form clumps. The ajuga clumps will eventually get crowded and begin to lose vigor. This is the time to lift and divide them in order to obtain additional ajuga plants.
Propagation of ajuga by division is an operation for early spring or fall. It’s a simple process. All you have to do is dig out the clumps and pull or cut them apart into smaller sections, then replant them in another location.
You can also simply cut out big sections of plant mats – like lawn sod – and move them to a new location.
How to Propagate Ajuga Plants?
Ajuga plants, commonly known as bugleweed, are low-growing plants that are ideal as a ground cover. These are tough plants that can survive many different circumstances. Ajuga plants are vigorous and they are famous for their bright, semi-green foliage. These plants also produce attractive flower spikes in various shades of blue.
What is great about Ajuga plants is that they grow quickly and can cover large areas with shiny foliage and beautiful flowers. They can quickly form a mat on the ground that doesn’t require much care.
They Grow Vigorously
One might wonder how to propagate these plants. The good news is that Ajugas are very easy to propagate. In fact, it can often happen without your wish: Ajuga plants can sometimes become invasive on their own.
This can lead to plants growing all the way across the lawn and into places reserved for other plants. This is something you need to keep in mind when deciding to grow Ajuga plants in your garden.
Preparing the Soil
The first thing you need to do is to prepare a space in your garden to plant your Ajugas. The best place to choose is a sunny spot. If this is impossible to find, try a spot that is in light shade. Keep in mind that Ajugas can’t flower if they are in full shade.
The best soil for Ajuga plants is moist and fertile. You can work in some humus or other organic material in the soil before you decide to plant the Ajugas.
Ajuga Plants Propagation
If you wish to propagate Ajuga plants there are a few simple tips to follow. Remember, they are known for their rapid growth so this is something you should keep in mind before you attempt to propagate them.
There are two main ways of propagation: from plant seeds or by division. Both methods can provide excellent results.
Propagating by seeds is one of the methods you can use to grow new Ajuga plants. With this method, you simply sow Ajuga plant seeds in containers. It is best to do this in the fall or spring. Once they are in the ground, cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost. It is also important to keep the soil moist. The seeds should germinate in about a month or a little less.
Once the growth is above the ground, simply prick out the individual plants and move them to larger containers. Wait until the summer to move the young plants to the garden beds.
Propagating by divisions is the other method of growing new Ajuga plants. Keep in mind that Ajugas spread through the underground runners called stolons. Stolons root the plant in the soil and form clumps. These clumps eventually get too crowded so they start to lose vigor. When this happens, it is a good time to pick them up and divide them. This will give you additional Ajuga plants.
It is best to do this in the early spring or fall. Propagating through division is simple: just dig out the clumps and cut them apart (or pull them) into smaller sections. Once this is done, simply replant them in another location.
Another thing you can do is to simply cut out bigger sections of the plant mats and move them to a new location.
Photo credit: Maggi_94 Kriechender Günsel (Ajuga reptans) via photopin (license)
Anther attachment the anther is attached near its midpoint to the filament Anther color the anthers show no hint of a pink, reddish or purplish tint Anther opening the anthers have narrow slits or furrows that run lengthwise along the anthers Anther spurs the anthers do not have spurs on them Anther tube length 0 mm Calyx growth after flowering the calyx grows to cover or partially cover the fruit Calyx symmetry there are two or more ways to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is radially symmetrical) Carpel hairs
- the carpels have hairs, but they are not thick and woolly
- the carpels have no hairs
Carpels fused the carpels are fused to one another Cilia on petals the petal margins have cilia Cleistogamous flowers there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan Corolla morphology the flower has two prominent lips Corolla palate no Corona lobe length 0 mm Epicalyx the flower does not have an epicalyx Epicalyx number of parts 0 Filament length 2–3 mm Filament surface
- the filament has rough hairs or scales on it
- the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
Flower appearance the flowers appear after the leaves have appeared Flower description the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium Flower orientation the flower points upwards or is angled outwards Flower petal color
- blue to purple
- pink to red
Flower reproductive parts the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts Flower symmetry there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical) Flowers sunken into stem no Form of style the style is lobed at the tip, and unbranched Fringed petal edges the petals are not fringed Fused stamen clusters NA Fusion of sepals and petals the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube Hairs on flower stalk NA Hairs on inflorescence
- at least some of the hairs on the axis of the inflorescence have glands
- the axis of the inflorescence has hairs entirely without glands
Horns in hoods (Asclepias) NA Hypanthium the flower does not have a hypanthium Hypanthium length 0 mm Inflorescence one-sided the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks Inner tepals (Rumex) NA Interior flower disk the flower has an interior disc Length of flower stalk 0 mm Marks on petals there are no noticeable marks on the petals Nectar spur the flower has no nectar spurs Number of branches in umbel 0 Number of carpels 2 Number of pistils 1 Number of sepals, petals or tepals there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower Number of styles 1 Ovary position the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment Perianth shape NA Petal and sepal arrangement the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures Petal and sepal colors
- blue to purple
- pink to red
Petal appearance the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown) Petal base the petal narrows gradually or does not narrow at the base Petal folding in bud the petals in bud are arranged in a cycle with edges overlapping like roof shingles (imbricate) Petal folds or pleats the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits Petal glandular dots or scales no Petal hairs (Viola) NA Petal hairs on inner/upper surface there are hairs on the inner/upper petal surface Petal length 14–17 mm Petal length relative to sepals the petals are longer than the sepals Petal nectaries the petals do not have nectaries Petal number 2–5 Petal tip shape the petal tip is rounded Petal tips (Cuscuta) NA Petal width 2–4 mm Raceme attachment (Veronica) NA Reproductive system all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious) Scales inside corolla no Sepal and petal color the sepals are different from the petals Sepal appearance the sepals are green or brown, and leaf-like in texture Sepal appendages the sepals do not have appendages on them Sepal appendages (Oenothera) NA Sepal auricles the sepals have no auricles Sepal cilia the sepals have cilia on their edges Sepal color green to brown Sepal length 4–6 mm Sepal number 5 Sepal relative length the sepal lobes are approximately the same length as the fused portion Sepal texture the sepals are either very thin but flexible, like a membrane, or they are leaf-like in texture Sepal tip shape the sepal tip is acuminate (tapers to a very narrow point) Sepal uniformity all the sepals are about the same size Sepals fused only to sepals the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases Spur length 0 mm Spur number NA Stamen appendages stamen appendages are absent Stamen attachment the stamens are attached at or near the bases of the petals or tepals Stamen lengths differ the stamens are didynamous (two long stamens and two short ones) Stamen morphology the stamens within a cycle differ in length or width Stamen number 4 Stamen position relative to petals NA Stamen relative length anything Staminodes there are no staminodes on the flower Stigma position the stigmas are positioned at the tip of the style Style length Up to 9 mm Style petal-like the styles are not petal-like Style relative length the stigma protrudes beyond the mouth of the corolla Surface of ovary the ovary surface has no points, bumps or wrinkles Umbel flower reproductive parts NA Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
- the upper lip of the bilabiate corolla has one lobe
- the upper lip of the bilabiate corolla lacks a lobe
Ajuga Ground Cover – How To Grow And Care For Ajuga Plants
When you’re looking for something attractive to quickly fill in a large area, then you can’t go wrong with ajuga (Ajuga reptans), also known as carpet bugleweed. This creeping evergreen plant quickly fills in empty areas, smothering out weeds while adding exceptional foliage color and blooms. It’s also good for erosion control.
The flowers of bugleweed are normally bluish to purple but they can be found in white as well. And in addition to the traditional green foliage, this ground cover can also provide the landscape with stunning copper or purple-colored foliage too, making it great for adding year-round interest. There’s even a variegated form available.
Growing Ajuga Bugleweed
Ajuga ground cover spreads through runners, and as a member of the mint family, it can get out of control without proper care. However, when placed in strategic locations, its quick growth and mat-forming trait can provide instant coverage with only a few plants. One good way to keep this jewel in bounds is by enclosing your garden beds with edging. Another way, which I’ve found to be useful, is by planting ajuga plants in a somewhat sunny area.
Ajuga is typically grown in shady locations but will thrive just as well in the sun, albeit more slowly, making it much easier to control. The plant also likes fairly moist soil but is remarkably adaptable and will even tolerate a little drought.
Caring for Carpet Bugle Plants
Once established, ajuga plants requires little care. Unless it’s really dry, ajuga can usually sustain itself with normal rainfall and there’s no need to fertilize this plant. Of course, if it’s located in the sun, you may need to water it more often.
It is self-seeding, so if you don’t want any unexpected pop-ups, deadheading would definitely help. Removing some of the runners periodically can also help keep this ground cover in line. Runners are also easy to redirect. Simply lift them up and point them in the right direction and they will follow. You can also cut the runners and replant them elsewhere. Division may be necessary every few years in spring to prevent overcrowding and crown rot.
Garden Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
Common names: Bugle, blue bugle, bugleherb, bugleweed, carpetweed, carpet bugleweed, and common bugle, and traditionally but less commonly as “St. Lawrence plant”.
Genus: Ajuga (a-JOO-guh) Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) Species: reptans (REP-tanz)
Type: Perennial. Attracts bees. NOTE: All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.
Hardiness: USDA Zone 3 – 9 Bloom Time: semi-evergreen, flowers late spring/early summer
Exposure: Sun to full shade Height: 2″ to 4″ tall when not in bloom, but rises to 10″ tall when in flower.
Spread: 5 – 8 inches.
Description: Ajuga reptans, commonly called bugleweed, or carpet bugleweed is a rapidly spreading, mat-forming ground cover which features shiny, dark green leaves and small, lavender-blue flowers on 3.9–5.9 in stalks. A member of the mint family, some cultivars of this species feature variegated leaves. Dense foliage will choke out weeds. Not particularly tolerant of foot traffic.
Cultivation: Space 12″ apart. Space plants 6-9” apart for prompt cover.
Fertilize: Lightly in early spring with a low-nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-5.
Soil and pH: Prefers moist, humusy, well-drained soils with good drainage, but tolerates moderately dry ones.
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
Watering: Water regularly, do not over-water.
Pests/Diseases: Few insect or disease problems. Crown rot can be a problem, particularly in the humid conditions of the deep South and in heavy soils. Avoid planting in wet, heavy soils, provide good air circulation and divide when clumps become overcrowded. Also avoid planting near perennial beds or lawns where its spreading nature could pose removal problems.
Propogation/Transplanting: Self-propagates by runners. or by transplanting of daughter plants from rooted runners, or by crown division.
Notes/Gardening Tips: Vigorous, spreading plants bloom in May or June. Use as a ground cover for lightly shaded areas, edging for borders, or in the cracks of a patio. Ajugas spread rapidly under good conditions. Some varieties spread more aggressively than others.
Will grow in full shade, but best foliage color usually occurs in part-sun locations (at least 3-4 hours of sun per day). Provide good air circulation in hot and humid areas where crown rot is a problem. Divide plants if they become overcrowded. Spreads by stolons (reptans means creeping) to form an attractive, mat-like ground cover. Plants may be cut back to the ground after flowering, if necessary, to rejuvenate the foliage. On variegated forms promptly remove any non-variegated leaves that may appear. Variegated forms will slowly revert to green or bronzed foliage forms unless the non-variegated sports are periodically removed
Primary use is as a ground cover. Will fill in large, shady areas where other plants or grasses might be difficult to establish. May also be planted on banks or slopes, under trees or around shrubs. Can be planted over spring bulbs such as snowdrops (Galanthus). Can crowd out other plants. Good for small spaces, containers and rock gardens.
Ajuga, Bugle, Bugleweed, Carpet Bugle ‘Valfredda’
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Sun to Partial Shade
Grown for foliage
under 6 in. (15 cm)
6-9 in. (15-22 cm)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
Where to Grow:
Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone
Can be grown as an annual
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Late Spring/Early Summer
Unknown – Tell us
Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Walnut Creek, California
Fort Collins, Colorado
Spring Hill, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Chicago, Illinois(2 reports)
Machesney Park, Illinois
Saint Charles, Illinois
Iowa City, Iowa
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Big Bay, Michigan
Port Huron, Michigan
Royal Oak, Michigan
Lees Summit, Missouri
Maryland Heights, Missouri
Saint Joseph, Missouri
Greenfield, New Hampshire
Jersey City, New Jersey
Dunkirk, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Sand Springs, Oklahoma
Conway, South Carolina
Elgin, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Austin, Texas(2 reports)
Corpus Christi, Texas
San Angelo, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
South Jordan, Utah
South Hill, Washington