Treating Bugleweeds: Learn How To Control Ajuga Plants

ajuga weed
Image by OlyaSolodenko

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Ajuga (Ajuga spp.), also known as carpet bugle or bugleweed, is an adaptable, low growing plant that forms a thick carpet of foliage, often with a grayish-green, bronze or reddish tint. The plant is covered with springtime blooms of blue, purple, violet, white or pink, depending on the variety.

Although most varieties are relatively well-behaved, Ajuga reptans is a rambunctious cultivar that spreads by long runners. It tends to escape its boundaries and invades flower beds and lawns if it isn’t carefully contained. Ajuga weed control is tricky, and tackling ajuga plants in lawns is especially challenging. Read on for more information about getting rid of bugleweed.

How to Control Ajuga

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Below are the most effective methods for treating bugleweeds that have become invasive.

Hand pulling – It’s always best to manage unwanted plants without use of chemicals whenever possible. If you want to remove ajuga in an environmentally friendly manner, the best solution is pulling – and a lot of it. Watering the area the day before will make ajuga easier to pull, as will loosening the soil around the plants with a spade or garden fork. Use a weeding fork to dig deep under the roots for more thorough ajuga weed control.

Take your time and remove as many roots as possible because even small pieces that remain in the soil can take root and spread. Keep a careful watch on the area and pull new plants as soon as they appear. It will take time, but if you are persistent, you will eventually gain the upper hand.

Dispose of the plants properly and don’t toss them on your compost pile; they’ll take root and you’ll be back at square one – or worse.

Homemade herbicide – Another option for getting rid of bugleweed is to create a homemade, environmentally friendly herbicide by mixing equal parts very hot water and vinegar. Stir in a small amount of salt and a few drops of liquid dish soap. Apply the solution with a spray bottle or a garden sprayer.

Black plastic – If the ajuga isn’t in your lawn, you may be able to smother large patches with black plastic. Secure the plastic with bricks or rocks and leave it alone for two weeks so the sun can “bake” the ajuga. If the plants are still alive, leave the plastic in place for an additional two weeks.

Chemical herbicides – If all else fails, ajuga weed control may require an herbicide such as Round-up. If the ajuga is in your lawn, read the label carefully and be sure to use a non-selective herbicide that will kill the ajuga without harming your lawn.

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