Ajuga Ground Cover Plant Value for the Home Gardener
Bugleweed a.k.a. Ajuga or Carpetweed
Ajuga is also known as bugleweed or carpetweed. It makes an excellent deer- and rabbit-resistant groundcover. If you have ajuga growing in your yard or garden, you probably already know that it makes perfect gardening gifts for other home gardeners you happen to know.
Why is this? A member of the mint family, this easy-to-grow, low-creeping variety of plant spreads rapidly, therefore making it a prime candidate to thin out and give away as gifts. Fellow gardeners are often very happy to share plants, and it certainly is an economical way to save some money while beautifying one's home landscape.
When we moved into our current home, there was a little bit of ajuga mixed in with the other beds in our backyard. In the ten years that we have lived here, I have spread this prolific plant to border garden beds in many places around our home. Since we have a corner lot which is landscaped on all sides, that is a lot of different areas to tend.
Friends have also happily taken excess ajuga to plant in their home gardens. It is a nice feeling to be able to share living plants with people who also appreciate beautifying their outdoor spaces. This particular plant is hardy, perennial, and evergreen as well as pretty.
Flowers and Leaves of the Ajuga Groundcover
Just look at the gorgeous flower stalks that appear in the spring of the year! These flower stalks, which are approximately six to eight inches tall, show coloration that normally varies from shades of blue to purple. There are also some white and pink blooming varieties. Hummingbirds and butterflies enjoy visiting bugleweed when in bloom.
It is the end of March as this article is being written here in Houston, Texas. Some of the flower stalks have already ended their blooming cycle while others are still emerging. Blossoms can be enjoyed for several months of the year. When the stalks little flowers have dried up I simply cut the stalks off with a sharp serrated knife down to leaf level.
If grown in an open lawn area or under a tree, after the flowers have quit blooming the spent stalks can be cut down with a lawn mower on a high setting.
Most people purchasing ajuga do it for the ground cover effect. This show of seasonal color in the spring is simply an added bonus to having this ground cover plant in home gardens.
Leaf colors are varied depending upon the variety acquired. Most of mine are a dark green in color. There are also variegated colors, bicolored and even tricolored leaf varieties of various hues including bronzes, browns, whites and shades of purple to pink.
Use of Ground Cover Plants
There are numerous choices when it comes to ground cover plants and we have had other types such as monkey grass, liriope and Asian jasmine.
Most all ground covers are planted for various reasons. Some of the following are good examples why people like planting ground covers.
- Wishing to keep a hillside from becoming eroded.
- Filling in bare spots in a garden.
- Smothering out weeds.
- Wanting perennials that are easy care.
- Growing plants in heavy shade where few other plants thrive.
- Wanting to border a bed using the eye appeal of real plants in place of landscape timbers, bricks, rocks or other mediums.
Growing and Planting Ajuga
- Ajuga does best in shaded areas or partial sun. No special soil is required as long as it drains well. No fertilizer is required.
- You will find this durable plant growing in zones from three to nine.
- The leaves grow in a rosette formation and send out runners with small little plants spaced closely together on that runner. If those fine roots of the runners touch arable soil soon more ajuga plants will be growing with or without your help.
- Space your plants widely a foot or foot and a half apart when planting and do not cover the crown of the plant with soil. Soon you will have a solid mat of ground cover and be able to transplant or give this prolific plant away as gardening gifts to people you know.
- This plant can purposely be left to grow in a draping fashion spilling over the brim of a pot, stone wall or elsewhere where a trailing type of feature is desired.
- Normal rainfall is enough for these plants once established unless it is unusually hot and dry.
- If this ground cover is used as a border you will want to keep it in check. That is easily done as the runners sit on top of the soil and the plants — even big established ones — have fairly shallow roots. It is easy to cut those runners off from the main plant. If instead you wish to grow more plants and want to speed up that process simply throw a little soil over the runners with the fine roots and voilà, another plant is soon established.
Note: Some people consider these plants to be invasive. I do not consider them to be a problem because of how easily the runners can be snipped and/or the plants pulled from the ground.
My husband and I have some ajuga planted around the base of a birdbath. We freshen the water on a daily basis and we can actually step on the ajuga with no ill effects to the plants with the exception of the short time that they are in bloom. How many other plants can be treated like that and still look good?
Ajuga in bloomClick thumbnail to view full-size
Do you use ajuga / bugleweed in your home garden?
Questions & Answers
Will ajuga grow under tall pine trees?
I have only grown the ajuga ground cover in beds with shrubs. I have grown it in sunny as well as shaded conditions. If there is enough loose soil around your pine trees to plant this ground cover, I see no reason that it cannot be grown under pine trees. In fact, it likes acidic soil which the pine needles would provide. Just make sure that the soil is well drained. When planting it does not cover the crown of the plant with soil. If the soil around it is loose the runners coming off of the main plant will spread out and root. Soon you will have a solid mat of ajuga plants.
A friend asked me the name of a groundcover located in the shade of our garage. It looks like a heart-shaped rubbery leaf with spikes of yellow/brown daisy-like flowers. Would you know the name of this plant?
The leaf shape is wrong, and so is the flower color. I did a quick search for heart shaped groundcover leaves and found wild ginger. That is not what you have because the flowers of a wild ginger plant are green, purple, and white. My suggestion would be to take a sample of your groundcover to a nursery. Perhaps they can identify your groundcover plant for you.
© 2011 Peggy Woods