Nurseries often use the phrase 'Stars of Spring' to introduce brand new, exciting plant arrivals to their shelves and benches. Although not exactly at the cutting edge, Ajuga is a star of each and every spring.
For most of the year Ajuga is a pleasant quiet achiever with crisp, crinkled foliage that hugs the ground like an evergreen carpet, but those weeks in spring when the blue flowers appear are simply quite magical.
Ajuga genevensis is used as an ornamental plant in gardens throughout the world yet this relatively uncommon form is less well known and far harder to find. With deep true gentian blue flower spikes it is by far the showiest of the species. Reaching to around 30cms (12in) tall when in full flower they bring the garden to life.
Ajuga genevensis is a very well behaved, evergreen groundcover, it has a slower spread compared with its cousin, the better known Ajuga reptans. The plants are very similar, but Ajuga genevensis differs in its larger flowers, stouter habit and in its lack of runners. It does not need to be constrained so is often the ajuga of choice for smaller areas or along edges and pathways.
Native to the mountains of Europe, Ajuga genevensis prefers a moist, well drained soil in sun or partial shade. It is extremely hardy and grows well in dry soils that are not very rich but does need good drainage to grow well.
This very versatile plant is equally at home in the shade under a canopy of trees as it is in a sunny flower border. The foliage is very useful to soften the hard edges of walls and paving, let it loose in a rock garden and even in containers. This robust plant will tolerate low foot traffic; plant it around a seating area and alongside your less frequently travelled paths.
Sowing: Sow in autumn or in spring
Sow thinly at temperatures of between 10 and 16°C (50 to 60°F). Use a good quality, moistened seed starting compost and “just cover” with a very thin layer of compost or vermiculite. Cover the container with a plastic cover or place inside a plastic bag and keep in the greenhouse or coldframe. Water from the base of the container (never water directly onto seeds) and keep the compost moist but not wet.
The seed usually germinates in 3 to 4 weeks, though can be erratic. Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Grow them on for a short while until established. Plant them out in the summer and protect them from snails and slugs which can attack young leaves.
Ajuga requires no special care. Put it in the ground, water for a few weeks to get it established and then let it alone. Remove spent flower stems and dead leaves at the end of winter. Plants can be trimmed back, or in larger plantings hedge trimmers can be used
Beds and Borders, Paths and walkways, Underplanting of Shrubs and Trees, Rockeries, Containers and Pots.
Ajuga genevensis is native to the mountains of Europe. There are around 40 to 50 species of Ajuga, in the mint family (Lamiaceae).
Ajuga genevensis are found on the edges of dry woods, as well as in thickets and grasslands. It is found at various locations around Europe including Sweden, France, Italy, Britain and from Macedonia to Caucasia.
The genus name is taken from the Greek a meaning 'not or without', and the Latin jugum meaning 'yoke', referring possibly to the undivided calyx.
The species name means 'from Geneva' referring to the plants origin. This is also reflected in the common names of the Geneva Bugle and Mountain Bugle.
It has the synonyms of Ajuga alpina and Ajuga rugosa
The common name ‘bugle’ does not refer to the musical instrument, but is thought to derive from ‘bugula’, a name used by apothecaries, which may in turn be a corruption of the generic name ‘Ajuga'.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 85 mg Average Seed Count 50 Seeds Family Lamiaceae Genus Ajuga Species genevensis Synonym Ajuga alpina or Ajuga rugosa Common Name Geneva Bugle Other Common Names Mountain Bugle. Other Language Names Fr. Bugle de Genève Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Deep true gentian blue spires. Natural Flower Time March to mid May. Foliage Evergreen Height 30cm (12in) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Full sun, part or full shade. Soil Needs good drainage to grow well. Time to Sow Sow in autumn or in spring Germination The seed usually germinates in 3 to 4 weeks, though can be erratic.