The luxuriant growth of this attractive rhizomatous perennial is topped by short spires of showy flowers in late spring. An excellent ground cover plant, especially in shaded areas.
Family: Lamiaceae (mint)
Botanical Name: Ajuga
Common Names: Bugle, bugleweed
Foliage: Glossy, obovate, green or bronze leaves. Evergreen (except in severe winters). Several interesting variegated forms are available.
Flowers: Showy spikes of gentian-blue tubular flowers.
Flowering Period: Early spring, May, June.
Soil: Any moist garden soil. Chalk, clay, sand or loam. Will tollerate poor and chalky soils.
Conditions: Best in partial shade. Variegated forms prefer more sun. Susceptible to scorching in full sun.
Habit: Spreading, prostrate, mat-forming.
Type: Herbaceous perennial.
Origin: Native to all continents except America.
Hardiness: Fully hardy in the UK.
Easy to grow. An ideal plant for the rock garden, ground cover in shady areas or for border edging. Can be grown in containers, where it can be allowed to trail over the edges. Because of its shallow root system it can be grown under taller plants or as ground cover around bulbs.
Plant out in the spring, in a north, east or west facing aspect, in a sheltered position. Dislikes waterlogged conditions.
Needs very little care and attention if growing conditions are good. Divide and replant clumps when they become bare in the centre.
Cut down faded flower spikes. Can be invasive, so cut back as required.
Generally pest free. May be affected by powdery mildew or root rot if conditions are too damp.
Lift established clumps and divide into rooted runners. Replant immediately and keep moist until well established.
There are a number of cultivars of Ajuga available, including several attractive variegated forms:
A. pyramidalis is a good mat-forming perennial. Height to 1ft (15-30cm), spread 1ft (30cm) or more. Cultivars include 'Metallica Crispa', with metallic-bronzed crispy, curly leaves.
A. reptans (bugle) is a vigorous prostrate carpeter with spikes of blue tubular lipped flowers. Height to 6in, spread 20in (50cm) or more. Cultivars include 'Rainbow' and 'Burgundy Glow', pretty cream, green and rose-pink variegated forms. 'Multicolour' has bronze, pink and yellow variegated leaves with touches of metallic red and and cream.