By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
When you’re looking for something attractive to quickly fill in a large area, then you can’t really 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 just 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.