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In the world of groundcovers, there isn't a whole lot to get excited about. Enter ajuga. With a wide variety of foliage colors usually in the rich deep burgundy realm, and sometimes cream and pink edges, ajuga offers more than just a bland green mat. The foliage is generally crinkled and very glossy as well. However, if you think this is just a foliage plant, you would get quite the surprise come spring. Once spring eases into summer, ajuga is covered in little spikes of bright blue, purple, pink or white blossoms.
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Under 6 inches
6-18 inches wide
With a common name like carpetweed and bugleweed, you would be right in assuming that this plant is vigorous grower. Each growing point of the ajuga plant is actually a little rosette of foliage. Ajuga spreads happily by sending out plenty of wandering stolons. Stolons are essentially horizontal roots that grow outward from the plant. At each node on this stolon, the plant also sends down roots and forms another crown of leaves—so as they grow, they create happy little colonies of plants. This also makes sharing super easy, simply dig up a few of these rooted sections and pass them along.
The leaves of the ajuga hold close together, which keeps them nice and short. The nodes of the stolons are also very short, which creates very dense colonies ideal for preventing weeds from growing up through the plants. Keep in mind that although ajuga is considered a groundcover, it doesn't do well with foot traffic. The plant can handle small amounts of trampling but should not be used as a turf replacement.
Ajuga Care Must-Knows
Ajuga is a very low maintenance plant. Because of its small stature, it doesn't need to be cut it back each spring or any deadheading. In mild climates, ajuga can be semi-evergreen. So if you have a mild winter, the foliage from last fall may still look good in the spring!
Siting ajuga can be variety specific, especially depending on the foliage color, but in general it can handle anything from full sun to complete shade. The deep, shiny burgundy foliage varieties will be a tad more dull and may take on some green in full shade, but they'll still grow just fine. Overall color of the fancy foliage is at its best in at least a half day of sun.
Ajuga is happiest in well-drained, moist soil but handles drought and dry soils well. Some of the miniature varieties make great additions to trough gardens and containers. The biggest concern is to make sure the plant doesn't get too wet because crown rot is a common problem. To prevent this, simply make sure to site your plants accordingly.