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Bugleweed in flower.

The low, dense spreading habit of bugleweed makes an excellent  ground cover for part-shade or shady areas.  The round green leaves often have a purple tinge and low, short spikes of violet-blue flowers add spring interest. 

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name:

Ajuga reptans

All common names:

Bugleweed, carpet bugleweed, ajuga

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):

Lamiaceae (formerly Labiatae)

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Ground cover,
  • Perennial


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk

Size Range:

  • Small plant (6-12 inches),
  • Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • mid spring

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Blue

Shape or Form:

  • Creeping

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Size and Method of spreading

Bugleweed is a low-growing ground cover, usually staying under 6 inches.  It is a trailing-rooting ground cover.  Trailing-rooting ground covers have trailing stems that spread out from a central root system.  These stems spread out horizontally over the ground and can root where they come in contact with the soil.  New shoots will be formed at the point where rooting occurs.

Tree & Plant Care

Best in well-drained humus-rich soils.
Avoid extremely wet sites.

Disease, pests and problems

Can develop crown rot in wet, crowded conditions.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Elliptical to rounded shiny green leaves with square stems
Dark green leaves turn a reddish-bronze color in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Lavendar-blue flower spikes appear in early spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Not ornamentally important

Cultivars and their differences 

Black Scallop bugleweed  (Ajuga reptans 'Binblasca'): Leaves are dark purple, nearly black, with scalloped edges; violet-blue flowers.

Bronze Beauty bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Bronze Beauty'):  metallic bronze leaves; violet-blue flowers

Burgundy Glow bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow'):  Tricolor (burgundy, green and white) foliage; violet-blue flowers.

Catlin's Giant bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Catlin's Giant'):   8 inch long green leaves with purple highlights, violet-blue flowers

Chocolate Chip™ bugleweed  (Ajuga reptans  'Valfredda'): tiny, 1to 3 inch teardrop leaves turn deep chocolate bronze color, a dwarf creeping form.

Dixie Chip bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Dixie Chip'): Tricolor (pink, green and white), narrow foliage; violet-blue flowers; 2 to 4 inches high.

Golden Glow bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Golden Glow'):  Leaves are a mix of yellow and green, with rosy tones in cooler weather; violet-blue flowers.

Pink Lightning bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Pink Lightning'): Green leaves edged in white; pink flowers.

Silver Beauty bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Silver Beauty'):  Green leaves edged in white; violet-blue flowers.

White bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Alba'):  white flowers

Location of Ajuga reptans (Bugleweed) at the Arboretum