Ajuga flowers bloom in late spring.
image by TANAKA Juuyoh: Flickr.com, titanium22: Flickr.com, hickoryrose: Flickr.com
Ajuga, also known as bugleweed, is a perennial evergreen flowering plant native to Europe, Asia, Africa and some parts of Australia. Ajuga plants are low growing, usually reaching no more than 6 inches in height, although they may spread up to 3 feet. Blue, purple, pink or white flowers bloom in late spring and can rise up to 6 inches above the leaves. However, ajuga is most commonly grown as a ground cover for its ornamental foliage, which is medium to dark green and may be tinged with purple, maroon, bronze or a combination of these colors.
Plant ajuga in spring, summer or fall in an area that receives full to partial shade and has average, well-drained soil. Ajuga will also grow well in soils with poor fertility. Prepare the planting site by installing plastic or metal edging according to the package directions. This will prevent the plants from invading the rest of the yard or garden.
Plant small-leaved ajuga cultivars approximately 8 inches apart and larger ones about 12 inches apart. Dig a hole approximately as big as the container in which the plant was previously growing, then place the ajuga plant gently inside and cover the roots with soil.
Water ajuga plants immediately after planting, and keep the soil evenly moist for the first month of growth by watering approximately twice per week. Provide 1 inch of water per week for the remainder of the plant's life, but only during weeks that rainfall is short.
Feed ajuga once per year after it blooms in spring using granulated 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer or similar. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for proper dosage. Rinse the fertilizer from the plant's foliage immediately after application using a gentle stream from a water hose.
Remove spent flower heads to reduce spreading and maintain the best foliage quality. Dig up and discard any dying plants in spring, if necessary. Thin ajuga plants if overcrowding becomes a problem, as crown rot can occur if the plants grow too close together. Try to keep them spaced 4 to 6 inches apart when mature to promote good air circulation.
Cut back ajuga runners, or the thin stems that grow on the soil's surface, if they begin to invade neighboring garden beds or lawns. Dig up the crowns of the offending plants to prevent further spreading, and plant elsewhere in the garden or discard. Ajuga is easily transplanted.