Ajuga Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Ajuga plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Bugleweed, Ground Pine, & Carpet Bugle: Cultivation & Garden Use

The common name for the Hardy perennial Ajuga is Bugleweed.

It typically flowers from late spring to mid-summer.

Latin names include Ajuga reptans, Ajuga turkestanica and Ajuga reptans atropurpurea.

Ajuga - bugleweed
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 3: 101.

Description of Bugleweed

Ajuga are matt forming evergreen plants. This makes them ideal for growing as a ground covering plant.

Bugleweed, has a mass of blue and purple flowering stems that sit above the foliage of leaves. These can be as variable in colour as deep green, purple, pink, and cream.

Ajuga photograph
Ajuga (possibly Ajuga turkestanica) photograph by Wallygrom

Commonly Grown Ajuga Species Photographs and Plant Identification

Ajuga reptans (Common Bugle)

Ajuga reptans is a perennial. Common Bugle grows to about 6 to 9 inches (15-23 cm) tall. It features glossy, ovate leaves and blue flower spikes.

Ajuga reptans
Ajuga reptans (Bugle / Common Bugle / Bugleweed / Carpetweed), photograph by Andreas Rockstein; CC.

This plant thrives in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. It's ideal for ground cover, borders, or rock gardens.

Ajuga genevensis (Blue Bugle)

The perennial Ajuga genevensis reaches a height of 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm). Upright Bugle has oblong leaves and spikes of blue flowers.

Ajuga genevensis
Ajuga genevensis (Upright Bugle / Geneva Bugleweed / Blue bugle), picture by Val Def; CC.

Thisnplant prefers full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. It is perfect for ground cover, rock gardens, or borders.

Ajuga pyramidalis (Pyramidal Bugle)

Ajuga pyramidalis grows to 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm) tall. Pyramidal Bugle bears ovate leaves. It is namedd from its pyramidal clusters of blue flowers.

It thrives in a part shade to full sun location, and needs a well-drained soil.

Ajuga tenorii (Chocolate Chip Bugle)

Ajuga tenorii is a perennial that grows to about 6 to 10 inches (15-25 cm) in height. This plant features oblong leaves and has tall spikes of blue flowers.

Chocolate Chip Bugle grows best in full sun to part shade, and a well-drained soil. Looks great as ground cover, in a rock garden, or as part of a border.

Ajuga incisa (Cutleaf Bugle)

Ajuga incisa reaches a height of 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm). It has incised leaves and spikes of blue flowers.

It prefers part shade to full sun and well-drained soil. Cutleaf Bugle is ideal for ground cover, use in rock gardens, or for borders.

How to Grow Bugleweed / Ajuga

It is best to sow seeds on the soil surface. Simply cover the Ajuga seeds with a light dusting of soil on top.

They should be spaced 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 inches) apart in the spring or autumn.

Ajuga plant species can grow in either full sunlight or in the shade.

The soil should be dry and ideally have a pH in the range of 5.5 to 7.1.

Ajuga requires between three to four weeks to germinate. If initiating growth indoors, they should be grown at a temperature of 10 to 12 degrees centigrade (50 to 54°F).

Caring for Ajuga in the Garden

The Ajuga plant is very easy to look after. For best results they should be fertilised in the spring, and watered frequently.

The spent flower heads should be removed after blooming, and leaves removed in the Autumn.

Ajuga Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Bugleweed, Ground pine, Bugle: Carpet, Common, Geneva, Blue, Mountain. Carpenter's Herb.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial. Hardy Annual.
  • Height: 2 to 20 inches (5—50 cm).
  • Native: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia.
  • Growing Region: Zones 3 to 9.
  • Flowers: Early spring through to mid-summer.
  • Flower Details: Blue, White, Pink/rose. Upright spikes. Whorls of flower, Ajuga reptans has dark veins on the lower lips of its flowers.
  • Foliage: Herbaceous. Opposite. Obovate. Rosette. Common Bugle has dark green leaves with purple highlights. Commonly grown cultivars have purple, pink, green, and cream foliage.
  • Sow Outside: Cover seed. Spring or autumn. Sow thinly.
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: three to four weeks. Temperature: 50 to 60°F (10—15°C). Water from below. Cover the container with a plastic bag until seeds germinate. Transplant to individual pots when seedlings are strong. Transplant outdoors once further established - in the summer. Space at 12 to 15 inches (30—40 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Prefers shade, but will tolerate full sunlight. Good drainage. Most soils when grown in the shade. Requires a richer, humus soil when grown in full/partial sunny areas of the garden.
    Ideally soil should have a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Water during prolonged dry spells if growing in a sunny area. Remove un-variegated leaves. Remove offsets/runners from young plants to prevent spread; it is best to grow Ajuga in a contained area.
    Growing Ajuga in a sunny area also slows down its growth/spread rate. Deadhead to prevent seed set. Divide every three years to prevent rotting crowns. Propagate: by dividing clumps early in the spring or in autumn; self-seeds freely.
  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Closely Related Species: Beefsteak plant; Helmet Flower; Jerusalem Sage; Lemon Balm; and Thyme;
  • Miscellaneous: Makes a great ground-cover plant. Invasive in some countries, especially in North America. Related to mint, and can be as difficult to control. The extensive root system makes it a good plant to grow if trying to control problems caused by erosion. Good plant to grow to prevent weeds as it is fairly easy to control. Can take foot traffic. Traditionally used to stem bleeding. Attracts Fritillary butterflies to the garden.
  • Commonly grown species and cultivars include Ajuga genevensis, Ajuga reptans, A. reptans "Burgundy-Glow", and A. reptans "Atropurpurea"

Common Questions

How many members does the Ajuga genus have?

The Ajuga genus consists of about 40-50 species.

Do members of Ajuga make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Ajuga, commonly known as Bugleweed, makes excellent ground cover due to its rapid growth and attractive, often variegated foliage.

Which Ajuga species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most commonly grown species is Ajuga reptans (Bugleweed).

Are members of the Ajuga fragrant?

No, Ajuga plants are not typically known for their fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Ajuga?

Ajuga is versatile and can grow in both full sun and partial shade, and prefers moist, well-drained soil.

Is Ajuga invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Ajuga can spread rapidly and may be invasive in some areas, but it's not generally a problem if properly managed.

How do I remove Ajuga from my garden?

Removal can be done by pulling or digging up the plants, making sure to remove all roots to prevent regrowth.


The Ajuga genus, also known as Bugleweed, includes perennial plants with attractive foliage and spikes of small flowers. Native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, they are valued for their dense, low-growing habit. Ajuga plants prefer moist, well-drained soil and partial shade but can tolerate full sun. They are adaptable and can thrive in various soil types. Regular watering is necessary to maintain their lush appearance. Ajuga is commonly used as ground cover, adding texture and color to garden beds and creating a carpet-like effect.

Ajuga plants captivate with their attractive foliage and spikes of small flowers. Their ability to form dense mats of lush foliage makes them ideal for ground cover purposes. Whether in shade or sun-dappled areas, Ajuga adds texture and visual interest to garden beds. With their adaptability and ability to thrive in different soil types, Ajuga offers versatility in garden designs, providing a carpet-like effect that enhances the overall aesthetic. Ajuga is a valuable addition to any garden seeking a low-maintenance yet visually appealing ground cover.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on Ajuga. As this plant is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), you may also enjoy the following garden growing guides: How to grow Melissa, Mint, Gaultheria procumbens, and Scutellaria plants.