The Pros and Cons of Bugleweed

There are few plants that seem to evoke such strong feelings in gardeners, both positive and negative, than Bugleweed.  To some gardeners, it is a plant that solves a lot of significant problems in their yard and to others, it is the “spawn of hell” sent to drive them crazy. Regardless of your view on Bugleweed It is one of the best known and most reliable ground covers and we’re going to get into “the good, the bad and the potentially ugly” surrounding this plant.

Bugleweed, also known as Ajuga, is not a native plant to North America so in some areas it is considered invasive. It is commonly found in Europe and Eurasia and was a popular herb in medieval times. It was used as a remedy for many ailments ranging from respiratory illnesses to thyroid related concerns and its coagulant properties made it valuable on the battlefield as a treatment for wounds. It is also available as a tea which is consumed for not only medicinal purposes but also for its ability to relax a person and relieve stress and tension.

Gardeners who rave about this plant focus primarily on its problem-solving capabilities. Although it prefers moist soils that drain well it is quite adaptable to difficult growing conditions such as dry conditions under shade trees and as an erosion control plant. As a member of the mint family, it spreads primarily through runners that come off of the main plant and it can quickly form a carpet-like mat which chokes out weeds. It is a perennial plant that grows in garden zones 3 through 9 and in most areas of the country it is an evergreen even during the winter months. It also has pretty flowers in the spring that most commonly are blue but shades of purple and white are also available. The foliage is mainly green but some newer varieties have foliage that is black, purple or variegated in shades of green and white. It can be used in containers and it is easy to maintain; all you have to do is run it over with a lawn mower to prune it! Finally, it is deer and rabbit resistant which is a plus.

Like many plants, Bugleweed’s positive traits can also turn into problems. The fact that it is a member of the mint family and spreads so easily means that it can get out of hand and into places where it may not be so beneficial. Edging or some other form of containment is recommended if you have any concerns about where this plant may roam too. Some varieties can tolerate full sun but many will burn out and die during the heat of summer if they are not kept watered. It is worth noting that this aversion to the sun can also be a way to slow down its growth and potentially keep its habit of spreading in check. Usually every 3 to 4 years you’ll need to fill in areas that thin out over time and it is susceptible to rotting if the plants sit in water for lengthy periods of time.

So, now you have the facts about Bugleweed and you’ll have to decide for yourself if this is a plant that would work well or not in your garden! 

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