How to grow it
What can I grow under my pine tree? It’s a question we are often asked and our advice is always trumpeted loud and clear – or perhaps I should say bugled.
Ajuga, or bugleweed as it is more commonly referred to, is attractive, hardy, quick to spread, relatively maintenance free and grows wonderfully under pines and other evergreens. It is an ideal cover for those areas where the lawn just does not prosper.
A creeping groundcover, ajuga (Ajuga reptans), can quickly fill in large areas with its runners, even choking out weeds with its pretty foliage colour and blooms. Most bugleweed flowers are bluish or purple, but you can also find white and pink flowering varieties. When it comes to foliage, you will find that bugleweed offers a wide variety of options, from copper to purple coloured leaves, as well as several variegated varieties.
This shady character thrives in moist shade but will do just as well in the sun. When planted in sunny spots, its leaves are a little less full and it may take it a little longer to spread but it will reward with more flowers. While it prefers moist acidic soil, ajuga isn’t overly fussy in that department either. In fact unless it is planted in full sun, it will likely do just
fine with rainwater, unless you have a major drought.
Ajuga is best planted in early spring, but the only real requirement is that you not plant it too deeply. Soil on top of the crown may lead to rotting and plant death. Hardy in zones 3 through 9, bugleweed is a long bloomer. Once established it will begin blooming in early spring until mid-july, growing up to six inches in height and nine inches when blooming.
Once established you will find this low growing beauty requires little care. A member of the mint family, it makes an excellent ground cover but will need to be contained. The plant propagates through self-seeding and runners. Removing the runners or lifting them and redirecting them to areas you want the plant to fill in will help keep it from getting out of control. Runners are also easily replanted in other locations. To ensure the health of the plant and reduce the likelihood of crown rot, plants should be dug up and divided every three years or so.
Should your variegated plant begin growing non-variegated foliage, remove the non-varigated leaves to prevent the plant from reverting back to its original green form.
Often overlooked, this pretty groundcover makes a brilliant addition to any shade garden. Bugleweed is also a terrific addition to containers, rock gardens, borders and woodlands. It is often used on slopes for erosion control. Ajuga attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and pollinators, but is unpalatable to deer.
Welcome a little bugleweed in your garden this summer and fill in those shady empty spaces that are currently devoid of life!