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Ajuga reptans (Bugleweed)

Bugle, Blue Bugle, Bugleherb, Bugleweed, Carpetweed, Carpet Bugleweed, Carpet Bugle, Common Bugle

Ajuga Reptans

Ajuga reptans is a robust, versatile ground cover that offers year-round interest with its colorful foliage and attractive flower spikes.

What is Bugleweed?

Ajuga reptans, commonly known as bugleweed or carpet bugle, is a low-growing herbaceous perennial native to Europe but now widespread in many parts of the world.

Habit and Size: This plant typically grows 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) tall and spreads indefinitely to form an attractive ground cover. It remains attractive most of the year.

Foliage: The leaves of Ajuga reptans are evergreen, oblong, and richly colored, ranging from dark green to bronze and even purplish tones. They are borne in dense, attractive rosettes, and form a carpet that thrives in shady areas where grass won’t grow.

Flowers: Rising from the center of the rosettes are whorls of tiny blue-violet, purple, pink, or white flowers arranged on spikes which create a striking display when in full bloom, in mid-late spring or early summer. However, gardeners treasure more the showy foliage of bugleweed and its carpet habit than its flowers.

Hardiness: Ajuga reptans is extremely hardy, capable of withstanding temperatures in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 10. It’s versatile and adaptable, thriving in a wide range of soil types and conditions, although it prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial to full shade.

Uses:  This plant is perfect for filling gaps in a garden, suppressing weeds, and covering areas where other plants might struggle. It is also used for erosion control on slopes.

Pollinators: The flowers attract bees and other pollinators.

Deer and Rabbit: Deer and rabbits typically avoid buglewwed.

Invasiveness: This plant can be quite aggressive. It spreads via stolons (above-ground stems) and can easily overtake a garden if not kept in check, potentially making it invasive in certain situations.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 10
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A2, A3
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Ajuga
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Mid, Late)
Height 4" - 8"
(10cm - 20cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Bees
Landscaping Ideas Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders, Ground Covers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
Ajuga Reptans 'Black Scallop', Bugle 'Black Scallop', Carpet Bugle 'Black Scallop', Ajuga 'Black Scallop', Bugleweed 'Black Scallop', Carpetweed 'Black Scallop'
Ajuga Reptans 'Catlin's Giant', Bugle 'Catlin's Giant', Carpet Bugle 'Catlin's Giant', Ajuga reptans 'Macrophylla', Ajuga 'Catlins Giant', Bugleweed 'Catlin's Giant', Carpetweed 'Catlin's Giant'
Ajuga Reptans 'Bronze Beauty', Bugle 'Bronze Beauty', Carpet Bugle 'Bronze Beauty', Ajuga 'Bronze Beauty', Bugleweed 'Bronze Beauty', Carpetweed 'Bronze Beauty'

Why Should I Grow Bugleweed?

Ajuga reptans, also known as bugleweed, is a popular choice among gardeners for several reasons:

  • Ground Cover: With its low growth habit and tendency to spread, it makes for an excellent ground cover. It can fill in bare spots in your garden quickly, providing a lush, verdant look.
  • Shade Tolerance: Ajuga reptans is one of the few attractive, flowering plants that truly thrives in shade. This makes it an excellent choice for those parts of your garden that other plants might struggle with.
  • Low Maintenance: Once established, Ajuga reptans requires very little care. It is hardy, and largely unaffected by common pests and diseases.
  • Color and Visual Interest: The foliage of Ajuga reptans is a standout feature, ranging from green to purple to bronze depending on the variety. This, combined with its blue flower spikes, adds depth and color to your garden.
  • Attracts Pollinators: The flowers of Ajuga reptans are a favorite among bees and other beneficial insects, which can help pollinate other plants in your garden.
  • Erosion Control: Its robust root system and fast-growing nature make it ideal for controlling erosion on slopes or in other problem areas.
  • Deer and Rabbit Resistant: Ajuga reptans is generally not appealing to deer or rabbits, making it a good choice if these animals are common in your area.

However, remember that Ajuga reptans can be invasive, so it’s essential to keep it in check, especially in a small garden or a mixed planting scheme. It’s a versatile plant that’s well suited for both novice and experienced gardeners.

Ajuga Reptans 'Burgundy Glow', Bugle 'Burgundy Glow', Carpet Bugle 'Burgundy Glow', Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow', Bugleweed 'Burgundy Glow', Carpetweed 'Burgundy Glow'
Ajuga Reptans 'Chocolate Chip', Bugle 'Chocolate Chip', Carpet Bugle 'Chocolate Chip', Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip', Bugleweed 'Chocolate Chip', Carpetweed 'Chocolate Chip', Ajuga reptans 'Valfredda'
Ajuga Reptans 'Catlin's Giant', Bugle 'Catlin's Giant', Carpet Bugle 'Catlin's Giant', Ajuga reptans 'Macrophylla', Ajuga 'Catlins Giant', Bugleweed 'Catlin's Giant', Carpetweed 'Catlin's Giant'AGM Award

Garden Design with Bugleweed

Designing a garden with Ajuga reptans, or bugleweed, allows you to create a lush carpet of color that adds depth and interest to your outdoor space. Here are some ideas:

  • Ground Cover: Use Ajuga reptans as a ground cover in large beds, around trees or shrubs, or under tall perennials. Its dense growth can suppress weeds, reducing maintenance.
  • Path Edging: Plant Ajuga reptans along garden paths or walkways. The low height of bugleweed allows taller plants behind to stand out, while its colorful leaves and flowers create an attractive edge.
  • Container Plantings: Ajuga reptans can be used in container plantings, either alone or combined with other plants. It’s especially effective as a “spiller” in a “thriller, filler, spiller” combination, cascading over the edges of pots or planters.
  • Slopes or Banks: Bugleweed’s spreading habit makes it perfect for stabilizing slopes or banks, preventing soil erosion while providing a beautiful, flowering display.
  • Woodland Gardens: Ajuga reptans is a great choice for a woodland garden or a shade garden. Its ability to thrive in partial shade means it can provide a pop of color in darker areas of your garden.
  • Water Features: Plant Ajuga reptans around ponds or streams for a natural, low-maintenance look. It’s especially effective when used in combination with taller water-loving plants.

Remember to space the plants 12-18 inches apart to allow room for growth. Also, Ajuga reptans spreads quickly, so be prepared to manage its growth if necessary.

Ajuga Feathered Friends™ 'Cordial Canary', Yellow Ajuga, Golden Ajuga, Yellow Carpet Bugle, Bugle Feathered Friends™ 'Cordial Canary', Carpet Bugle Feathered Friends™ 'Cordial Canary', Carpetweed Feathered Friends™ 'Cordial Canary'
Ajuga Feathered Friends™ 'Tropical Toucan', Yellow Ajuga, Golden Ajuga, Yellow Carpet Bugle, Bugle Feathered Friends™ 'Tropical Toucan', Carpet Bugle Feathered Friends™ 'Tropical Toucan', Carpetweed Feathered Friends™ 'Tropical Toucan'
Ajuga Feathered Friends™ 'Fancy Finch', Yellow Ajuga, Golden Ajuga, Yellow Carpet Bugle, Bugle Feathered Friends™ 'Fancy Finch', Carpet Bugle Feathered Friends™ 'Fancy Finch', Carpetweed Feathered Friends™ 'Fancy Finch'

Companion Plants

Ajuga reptans, or Bugleweed, is a versatile plant that can be paired with many different garden companions. When choosing companion plants, consider the following:

  • Ferns: Ferns such as the Lady Fern or Japanese Painted Fern can provide a great textural contrast with the compact, glossy foliage of Ajuga.
  • Hostas: Hostas come in a variety of sizes, colors, and leaf patterns and make excellent companions to Ajuga. Both are shade-loving, and their contrasting leaf shapes complement each other well.
  • Spring Bulbs: Ajuga’s flowering period can overlap with many spring bulbs, creating a dynamic and colorful display. Consider Daffodils, Tulips, or Crocuses.
  • Heucheras (Coral Bells): Heucheras come in many different leaf colors, which can beautifully complement or contrast the leaves of Ajuga.
  • Lamium (Deadnettle): Lamium is another excellent ground cover that pairs well with Ajuga. It also thrives in similar conditions of light shade.
  • Pachysandra: This is another effective ground cover complementing Ajuga’s dark foliage.
  • Astilbe: Astilbe’s feathery, vertical blooms can provide a nice contrast to Ajuga’s low, horizontal growth habit.

Remember, the best companion plants for your Ajuga will depend on your specific garden conditions, including light, soil, and climate.

Growing Tips

Bugleweed is a relatively easy plant to grow, but here are some specific tips to ensure it thrives:

  • Sunlight: Bugleweed is a versatile plant when it comes to light requirements. It can grow in full sun, partial shade, and even full shade. However, it’s important to note that the plant’s color may vary depending on the light conditions. In full sun, Ajuga reptans often develops a deep, rich hue in its foliage, but it may also require more frequent watering as it can dry out in hot, sunny conditions. In contrast, in partial to full shade, the foliage may not be as intensely colored but the plant will often require less watering and maintenance.
  • Soil: Ajuga prefers well-drained soil. It can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, including poor soils, but it doesn’t do well in waterlogged soil. Improve drainage by adding organic matter or grit to the soil if necessary.
  • Watering: Ajuga reptans, commonly known as Carpet Bugle, prefers moist soil conditions. It is important to provide regular watering, especially during dry periods, to keep the soil consistently moist. However, be careful not to overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot. It is best to water deeply and allow the top layer of soil to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Spacing: Plant individual Ajuga plants about a foot apart (30 cm) to allow for spreading and provide good air circulation to avoid crown root problems. Ajuga can become invasive if given the right conditions.
  • Feeding: Feed Ajuga in early spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to promote robust growth and beautiful foliage.
  • Pruning: Ajuga doesn’t require much pruning. However, after flowering, you can mow or trim back the spent flower stalks to tidy up the plant and encourage new growth.
  • Dividing: To prevent overcrowding, divide Ajuga plants every two to three years in the spring. This also helps to rejuvenate older plants.
  • Disease and Pests: Ajuga is usually relatively free of pests and diseases. However, keep an eye out for crown rot, particularly in very wet conditions.
  • Invasiveness: Keep in mind that Ajuga can spread rapidly. If you don’t want it to take over, be sure to plant it where it can be contained or plan to do some maintenance to keep it in check.

With these tips in mind, Ajuga can be an excellent low-maintenance choice for ground cover, especially in challenging areas where other plants may struggle.

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 10
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A2, A3
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Ajuga
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Mid, Late)
Height 4" - 8"
(10cm - 20cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Bees
Landscaping Ideas Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders, Ground Covers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
Compare All Ajuga
Compare Now
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Ajuga
Guides with
Ajuga

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