Ajuga, also known as bugleweed, bugle, common bugle, carpetweed, carpet bugleweed and few more variations on the theme, is a treasure for any gardener. It has an unbelievable growth speed. This means that in a couple of months it will have tripled in size and covered a good part of your bare ground. It forms a very low mat of leaves and in late spring produces plenty of blue flower spikes.
Here is why you should be growing Ajuga:
• It produces beautiful blue flowers
• It flowers earlier than most perennials
• It is very low maintenance
• It has highly decorative leaves
• It covers the ground very efficiently
• It is decorative also during the winter
Did you like what you have read? Who wouldn’t. The next task is to choose the right Ajuga variety.
We are growing (or have tried) the following varieties in our garden. All the information in this page is based on our own experience with these plants.
Ajuga reptans Catlin’s Giant
This is an ajuga variety that I would highly recommend. It spread quickly, forming a tight and low carpet of leaves. And what leaves these are! Ajuga Catlin’s Giant has very thick, bronze leaves that look great in any flower bed and can be used to create stunning designs in your garden. But wait, there’s more. The leaves of ajuga Catlin’s Giant are very hardy and tough and do not die back during the winter. In winters with little snow, in early spring and late autumn the leaves of Catlin’s Giant will cheer you up and add colour and charm to your garden. It is basically worth growing ajuga just for its leaves. Although the beautiful blue spikes it produces are a very welcome addition! This bugleweed grows well in full sun or in partial shade. You can continue reading about Catlin’s Giant below in the “caring for ajuga” section.
Ajuga reptans is another great bugleweed for your garden. In its hardiness, growth speed, flowers and easiness it resembles ajuga Catlin’s Giant. They differ only in their leaves. Ajuga reptans has greener, slimmer leaves than Catlin’s Giant. Concluding, both varieties are worth buying, but the bronze ajuga has more decorative leaves.
Ajuga reptans Burgundy Glow
Ajuga Burgundy Glow is a variegated bugleweed. Its leaves are green, white and burgundy, which of course is very decorative. BUT, variegated plants have usually one defect. They tend to be less winter hardy than regular varieties. This is exactly what happened to our ajuga Burgundy Glow. It did not survive the first winter in our garden. I would not recommend choosing this ajuga variety for people living in the North.
Caring for ajuga
It is very difficult to kill an ajuga plant. Even if you try hard. Let me share a story with you. Few years ago, I planted some small ajuga plants next to a path. My father was unaware of this and not only walked on the bugleweed plants, but covered them with heavy stones and sand. We were sure to have lost the bugleweeds …. But, to our amazement, they survived and happily started growing.
This is my way of saying that even if you are a beginner gardener, you shouldn’t be scared of growing ajuga. You basically cannot do anything wrong!
If you wonder in what type of soil we plant ajuga, I will (with a little bit of embarrassment) answer that we plant them in our sandy soil (basically it is pure sand) without the addition of any compost, nor do we fertilise our ajuga plants.
Design with Ajuga
A flowerbed looks its best when you have plants of different heights. The shortest plants go in the front line, to be visible, to cover the ground and help fight the weeds. Ajuga is the ideal plant for this job! Depending on whether you want red in your flowerbed, choose either Ajuga reptans or Ajuga Catlin’s Giant.
I love the combination of the blue ajuga flowers and the yellow Cytisus. They make a great spring display!
I gladly give Ajuga our Amberway approval!
Flowering time: Late spring
Flower yield: Medium high
Sun exposure: ½ day
Pollinator attraction: High
Lowest temperature survived: -17°C