Photo - Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock.com
Name: Ajuga sp. commonly known as bugle flower. A genus of 40–50 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants.
Belongs: to the mint family Lamiaceae
Origins: Europe, Asia and Africa
For spires: Each spire is made up of hundreds of fat-lipped, individually lobed flowers like a supersized lobelia. Photo - Peter Radasci/Shutterstock.com
For colour: 'Caitlins Giant' is twice the size of other ajuga cultivars. Its blue flowers area great complement to lolly-pink bergenia. Photo - Jim Fogarty
This reliable blue spring carpet deserves its go-to reputation. Let’s take a closer look.
Now: purple-blue flower spikes in the spring and summer sit proudly above thick carpets of plum-purple foliage.
Summer: at summer’s end large plantings can be mowed on a high mower setting to remove spent flower spikes and tidy up. This refreshes the carpet, especially if followed by a good soaking.
Autumn: divide when clumps become overcrowded. Dig, lift and divide, removing old, tired foliage.
Winter: the crisp, crinkled foliage hugs the ground in a quick-spreading, evergreen carpet.
For cover: Ajuga will fill bare spots without being invasive; perfect for pathways or around stepping stones. Photo - Jim Fogarty
For support: Spring tulips stand to attention with support from this ground-dwelling spring rug. Photo - Kenneth Keifer/Shutterstock.com
We love them
Wandering through shady perennial beds; planted as a flowing river of blue between spring-flowering shrubs such as azaleas; or paired under trees with the softer, sky-blue Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica). Use ajuga en masse under a high tree canopy, or to soften the hard edges of walls, pathways and paving.
No serious insect or disease problems. Crown rot can be a problem, particularly in humid conditions and wet, heavy soils. Powdery mildew can attack quickly but a squirt with Ecofungicide will control it.
Ajuga is easily grown in well-drained soils in part-sun to part-shade. While it prefers moist soils with good drainage, it will tolerate moderately dry conditions. This is a fast-growing plant that will spread by stolons to form an attractive ground cover.
The darkest form of Ajuga, ‘Black Scallop’ has midnight-purple foliage. It provides a unique contrast when shouldering up to lime green, gold or white leaf variations. The leaf shape is scalloped, and smaller than other forms making this an ideal groundcover between pavers, in wide bowls or along the front of a mixed border.
Also try miniature ‘Burgundy Glow’, 10cm high and 30cm wide. It has mottled leaves of creamy-white, rose burgundy and dark green that turn a deep bronze in autumn.
Where to buy
We have our very own Aussie Ajuga called Australian bugle flower (Ajuga australis) which we’ve seen in the river flats of the Flinders Ranges. The leaves are velvety to touch and toothed. Each flower stem is 15 cm long. The pretty deep blue or purple flowers are seen mainly in spring and summer. This tough little plant will grow well in most positions as long as the soil is well drained. But is difficult to source and often incorrectly named. Photo - Jim Fogarty
Text: Linda Ross
About this articleDate: 13 February 2015 Author:
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