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Ajuga Plant this

under your evergreens

By Tania Moffat

Ajuga is one of the most useful ground covers and suits many different locations and colour schemes It even looks beautiful in planters. W

hat can I grow under my pine tree? It’s a question we are often asked and our advice is

always trumpeted loud and clear – or perhaps I should say bugled. Ajuga, or bugleweed as it is more

commonly referred to, is attractive, hardy, quick to spread, relatively mainte- nance free and grows wonderfully under pines and other evergreens. It is an ideal cover for those areas where the lawn just does not prosper. A creeping groundcover, ajuga (Ajuga

reptans), can quickly fill in large areas with its runners, even choking out weeds with its pretty foliage colour and blooms. Most bugleweed flowers are bluish or purple, but you can also find white and pink flowering varieties. When it comes to foliage, you will find that bugleweed offers a wide variety of options, from copper to purple coloured leaves, as well as several variegated varieties. How to grow it

This shady character thrives in moist

shade but will do just as well in the sun. When planted in sunny spots, its leaves are a little less full and it may take it a little longer to spread but it will reward with more flowers. While it prefers moist acidic soil, ajuga isn’t overly fussy in that department either. In fact unless it is planted in full sun, it will likely do just

36 • Spring 2016

Plant ajuga with other shade lovers such as: Coral bells • Fothergilla

Bleeding heart • Hostas • Heuchera

fine with rainwater, unless you have a major drought. Ajuga is best planted in early spring,

but the only real requirement is that you not plant it too deeply. Soil on top of the crown may lead to rotting and plant death. Hardy in zones 3 through 9, bugleweed is a long bloomer. Once established it will begin blooming in early spring until mid-July, growing up to six inches in height and nine inches when blooming.

Once established you will find this

low growing beauty requires little care. A member of the mint family, it makes an excellent ground cover but will need to be contained. The plant propagates through self-seeding and runners. Removing the runners or lifting them and redirecting them to areas you want the plant to fill in will help keep it from getting out of control. Runners are also easily replanted in other loca- tions. To ensure the health of the plant and reduce the likelihood of crown rot, plants should be dug up and divided every three years or so. Should your variegated plant begin

growing non-variegated foliage, remove the non-varigated leaves to prevent the plant from reverting back to its original green form. Often overlooked, this pretty

groundcover makes a brilliant addi- tion to any shade garden. Bugleweed is also a terrific addition to containers, rock gardens, borders and woodlands. It is often used on slopes for erosion control. Ajuga attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and pollinators, but is unpalatable to deer. Welcome a little bugleweed in your

garden this summer and fill in those shady empty spaces that are currently devoid of life! s

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners.

Photo by Chris Brown Photography, courtesy of Proven Winners.

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