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 reptans is a star of 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 reptans is a very versatile low growing ground cover, with evergreen, rosette-like foliage. The dark leaves have an unusual colouration, with a purplish-brown or violet sheen on a dark green ground colour. They make a good background to the upright spikes of purple-blue flowers
Ajuga prefers a moist, well drained, fertile, humus rich soil in sun or partial shade. It will however, tolerate poor soils in full shade and once established, can withstand long periods of drought. Ajuga grows thick enough to keep weeds out and is a generous multiplier but not so tenacious that a gardener would ever regret having planted it.
This very versatile plant is equally at home in the shade under a canopy of trees as it is in a sunny flower border, Use it en masse under-planting perennials and shrubs for overlapping, opulent display of blooms. Try it combined with succulents on roof gardens or in vertical plantings, the blue of the flowers is stunning against the green of sedums.
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 reptans is native to most parts of Europe and Asia.
Two other Ajuga species may be encountered. Both Ajuga genevensis, the Blue Bugle and Ajuga pyramidalis, the Pyramidal Bugle are ornamentals and occasional garden escapees.
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 reptans means “creeping.”
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'.
The alternative name, ‘thunder and lightning’ is thought to refer to the contrast between the shiny highlights and deep background colour of the leaves.
Ajuga reptans is a mat-forming perennial related to the wild bugle which was traditionally used to treat internal wounds. It is also known as Carpenter's Herb, Carpet Bugleweed and Mountain Bugle.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 50 mg Average Seed Count 35 Seeds Family Lamiaceae Genus Ajuga Species reptans Common Name Bugle. Thunder and Lightning, Other Common Names Carpenter's Herb, Carpet Bugle, Mountain Bugle. Other Language Names IR. Glasair choille Fr. Bugle rampante Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Deep, dark blue spires. Natural Flower Time March to mid May. Foliage Evergreen. Purplish-brown or violet sheen on a dark green ground colour. Height 15cm Spread to 90cm Position Full sun, part or full shade. Soil Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Chalky/alkaline, Moist Time to Sow Sow in autumn or in spring Germination The seed usually germinates in 3 to 4 weeks, though can be erratic.