Ajuga Reptans - Ajuga
Botanical Latin Name: Ajuga reptans
Common Name: Common Bugleweed
Sun Exposure: Full sun to light shade
Hardiness Zones: USDA 3 to 9
Mature Height: Three to six inches
Spread: About a foot; ground cover
Growth Rate: Medium
Flowering Time: Late spring to summer
How Long It Flowers: Until late summer
Flower Color: White, pink, violet, blue
The botanical name of Ajuga reptans or common bugleweed tells much about its habits, as reptans means creeping. It’s an excellent ground cover that spreads into dense mats of lovely foliage. It can take the place of a lawn for people who don’t want to do the work that keeps a yard looking green and luxuriant throughout the growing season. Though it keeps down the weeds, bugleweed can be a bit aggressive, and it’s a good idea to divide the plants between the spring or the fall. It can propagate through runners that root into the soil.
Besides its beautiful flowers, bugleweed's foliage also comes in shades of green, purple, bronze or creamy white with splotches of dark pink. In some varieties, the foliage is evergreen or semi-evergreen. The flowers grow in whorls and attract bees in the late spring and early summer.
Also known as heartleaf or evergreen wild ginger, the little brown jug is native to the southeastern forests of the United States and is found growing wild in many parts of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Carolinas. This perennial grows in rich, acid soils that may be either moist or dry. Relatively heat tolerant, these plants prefer partial to full shade environments and are most likely to thrive in planting zones five through nine. As the standard name heartleaf suggests, these plants boast attractive, heart-shaped leaves that are pale, whitish-green with dark green veins and margins. The leaves may be up to eight inches in length, and the plants typically grow to a height of two to four inches. Because it is an evergreen, this plant remains lush and green throughout the winter months. The common name little brown jug refers to the odd, jug-shaped flowers that this wild ginger produces. Flowers may be either brown or purple, consist of three united sepals, and bloom annually from march through may. Rarely seen, these flowers are sheltered close to the ground, beneath the plant’s foliage, and are pollinated by ants and various other small, crawling insects. Little brown jug spreads using underground rhizomes, or horizontal roots, to which all leaves and flowers are attached. The distinctive, jug-shaped flowers grow individually at the end of these rhizomes. However, while this plant spreads subcutaneously, it remains in isolated clumps and does not form a mat of vegetation on the forest floor. Slow-growing and shade-loving, the little brown jug is an attractive addition to any Southeastern shade garden or woodland landscape. Because of its appealing leaf shape, diminutive height, and rich, year-round greenery, the little brown jug is a favored ground cover among landscapers.