Bugleweed is another name for the easy to grow ground cover Ajuga. It loves full sun unless you live in a very hot and dry climate, then plant it in the shade and full shade is just fine! The foliage will tend to grow smaller in full sun, but will produce more flower spikes then in shade. Ajuga tolerates clay soil that is dry or moist and a wide soil pH range as well. It’s a semi-evergreen perennial, plus Ajuga is easy to propagate. It’s hardy in zones 3 to 9. So why not plant it?
Growing up, my mother planted ‘Bronze Beauty’ bugleweed all over the yard and now I know why…It did fantastic in that hard compacted clay soil and needed little care. Ajuga was never a favorite of mine until I found a few varieties that really hit the spot and now I find myself poking them in areas that need a little ground coverage to fill in and soften the look. I’m now hooked! I have my favorites though, Bronze Beauty not being top of my list however…Perhaps because it is so common and I like a little twist on things. Top favorite is ‘Black Scallop’. It has dark, almost black, large succulent leaves that look like you could eat them. The leaves stay glossy as well…even with our hard water! But it really likes shade and stays beautiful in my HOT climate there. Second Fav is ‘Burgundy Glow’. It has a variegated leaves with shades of greens, white and burgundy. Truly a beautiful ground cover! It will give you a little color splash in a shade garden. ‘Chocolate Chip’ is a fun name for an Ajuga, but it’s more than that. It has elongated leaves that are skinnier than others and it does have a chocolate color to it.
All these varieties do well in pots as a filler/spiller. They will hang nicely over the edges in no time. But keep Ajuga watered well in pots, as they are not as drought tolerant when grown in a pot as they are in the ground. Ajuga will bloom from spring to summer, sending up flowers of blue, pink or white, depending on the variety. Divide clumps in the spring or fall after two or three years. Just find the new crowns around the mother plant and slice down between them lifting the dirt and roots together. Share with a friend, neighbor or plant in a bare spot in the yard. We have seen many lawns of Ajuga and people just mow them like a regular ole’ lawn in areas that may be hard to grow grass, such as under dense mulberry trees. If non variegated foliage appears on variegated Ajuga, they should be removed to prevent the plant to reverting back to its original green form. Adding a little compost and fertilize in the early spring is about all you need to get this easy ground cover off and running!