My absolute favorite groundcover ajuga for garden zones 4 to 9 is Ajuga reptans ‘Chocolate Chip’ or Chocolate Chip Bugleweed. Below is a video and an excerpt from my book, the Illinois Getting Started Garden Guide, featuring this plant. Ajuga is a very versatile and attractive groundcover that does well in most any sun situation, loves drought, withstands foot traffic, and flowers gorgeously in the springtime. This evergreen or semi-evergreen perennial spreads rapidly by stolon and can be quite aggressive in lawns, so it helps to have a border or sidewalk to stop its creeping and keep it contained. On its own, the foliage stands only 2 to 3 inches above the ground, making this a great low grower that is a creative lawn substitute where traditional grass refuses to perform. Ajuga is an excellent plant to place on a hillside for erosion control due to its rhizomatous nature. Flowers bloom in spring and early summer and are absolutely stunning when ajuga is planted en masse.
Ajuga Growing Tips
- Place ajuga in most any location about 10 inches apart and they will soon fill in. To help ajuga get a good start, amend soil with compost and make sure the soil is well draining. Although it likes moist conditions, it needs good drainage. Ajuga is a tough little plant and tolerates a variety of conditions; full sun to full shade, wet soil or dry, clay or sand.
- Do not mulch ajuga as it will spread better on its own without mulch as a blockage to its growth. Fertilize once per month with a liquid organic fertilizer to see stronger plant performance. If plants get overly zealous simply shear back their growth with clippers or dig up and share with friends.
- Plants may be mowed on a higher level setting in order to remove spent flower blooms and to tidy its appearance. If the groundcover is in a challenging garden position, simply shear back the dead flower spikes. Crown rot and other fungal conditions are a problem for ajuga. Control with an OMRI certified fungicide that contains the streptomyces lydicus bacteria. While ajuga is edible, it is primarily used as an herbal tea medicinal remedy and tastes bitter and somewhat dandelion-like in salads.
See the video below for a more detailed view of the Ajuga reptans ‘Chocolate Chip’ (if you are viewing this note via email and the video does not load, simply click the title and it will take you to my web page). Plant this tough little ajuga in a difficult spot and watch it explode with happiness.