Bugleweed Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea'
Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea', commonly known as Carpet Bugle, is a perennial plant that is prized for its attractive foliage and blossoms. Its leaves are perhaps the most striking feature, having a rich, deep purplish-bronze color. These leaves are typically oval to spoon-shaped and appear in a rosette formation, hugging close to the ground and creating a dense mat that effectively suppresses weeds. During the blooming season, Carpet Bugle produces flower spikes that rise just above the foliage. The flowers themselves are small, tubular, and generally a deep blue or violet hue, adding a splash of vibrant color to the garden. The combination of the dark foliage and the blue flowers creates a stunning contrast that can catch the eye even from a distance. The plant spreads via stolons, which are above-ground shoots that can root at the nodes, leading to the "reptans" part of its name, suggesting a creeping or crawling habit. This hardy ground cover spreads effortlessly, making it a popular choice for filling in patches in landscaped areas or covering larger swathes of ground with attractive foliage and flowers. Despite its fast-spreading nature, Carpet Bugle is not typically considered invasive and can be a welcome addition to many garden settings.
About this plant
Bugleweed, Carpet Bugle, Carpenter's Herb, Purple Bugle
Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea'
Bugleweed is not considered highly toxic to humans. However, as with many plants, it may cause mild stomach upset if ingested in large quantities. It is not commonly associated with severe poisoning, but to be safe, it is advisable not to consume any part of the plant.
Bugleweed is also not considered highly toxic to pets, but ingestion may result in gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea. While not typically life-threatening, it is still recommended to prevent pets from eating this plant to avoid any potential discomfort or adverse reactions.
Color of leaves
6 inches (15 cm)
24 inches (60 cm)
- General Benefits
- Ground Cover: Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea', commonly known as bugleweed, is an effective ground cover that spreads quickly, filling in spaces and suppressing weeds.
- Ornamental Foliage: The plant has attractive, dark purple foliage that adds a splash of color and visual interest to gardens throughout the growing season.
- Low Maintenance: Bugleweed requires minimal care once established, it is drought resistant and generally does not require frequent watering or fertilization.
- Erosion Control: The dense mat of roots and foliage helps to stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes or in problematic areas.
- Attracts Wildlife: The flowers of the bugleweed are a source of nectar and attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators to the garden.
- Adaptability: It adapts well to a wide range of soil types and conditions, from full sun to shaded areas, making it versatile for different garden designs and locations.
- Seasonal Interest: Bugleweed blooms with beautiful blue to violet flower spikes in the spring, providing early season color to the landscape.
- Evergreen: In milder climates, the plant remains evergreen throughout the winter, offering year-round ground cover and visual interest.
- Medical Properties
- Anti-inflammatory: Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea', commonly known as bugleweed, has been traditionally used for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Astringent: It is known to have astringent qualities, which can help to tighten and tone tissues.
- Hemostatic: Bugleweed may act as a hemostatic agent, which can help to stop bleeding.
- Diuretic: The plant has been used to promote the production of urine, aiding in the removal of excess water from the body.
- Wound healing: Topically, bugleweed has been applied to wounds to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection.
- Respiratory health: It has been used in traditional herbal medicine to support respiratory health, especially in cases of cough and bronchitis.
- Air-purifying Qualities
This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.
- Other Uses
- Groundcover in shaded areas: The common name bugleweed refers to its ability to form a dense carpet that can prevent soil erosion and suppress weeds in areas with less sunlight.
- Landscape design for color contrast: Bugleweed's deep purple foliage provides a stunning contrast when planted alongside green-leaved plants in garden beds and borders.
- Container gardening: Bugleweed can be grown in pots and containers to add foliage interest on patios, balconies, or decking areas.
- Habitat creation for wildlife: The flowers of bugleweed attract beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies, promoting biodiversity in the garden.
- Living mulch: Bugleweed can act as a living mulch, conserving soil moisture and providing nutrients as its leaves decompose.
- Edging for pathways: Its low, spreading habit makes bugleweed an ideal edging plant for garden pathways, helping to define borders without obstructing the way.
- Ornamental additions to water features: When planted near ponds or streams, bugleweed can accentuate the water with its rich foliage and blue to purple flowers.
- Accent plant in rock gardens: Bugleweed can thrive in rocky soils and is often used to add color and life to rock gardens and alpine displays.
- Green roofing: Bugleweed can be used in green roof installations to help manage stormwater runoff and provide rooftop insulation.
- Color theming in gardens: Its distinctive leaf color is used to create a specific color theme or mood in garden design, often combined with other plants of similar or complementary hues.
- Feng Shui
Bugleweed is not used in Feng Shui practice.
- Zodiac Sign Compitability
Bugleweed is not used in astrology practice.
- Plant Symbolism
- Persistence: Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea', commonly known as Bugleweed, has a spreading habit, often covering large areas if left unchecked. This characteristic symbolizes persistence and the ability to overcome obstacles.
- Protection: In herbal lore, Bugleweed has been used to ward off evil and illness. Symbolically, this gives it the meaning of protection.
- Harmony: The way Bugleweed grows in a dense mat can symbolize the harmony of elements or individuals living closely and cooperatively.
Bugleweed should be watered deeply once or twice a week, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. It is best to use about 1 gallon of water for each watering session for established plants to ensure the moisture reaches the root system. During the hotter, dryer seasons, frequency may need to be increased. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so ensure good drainage. Adjust water amounts during rainy periods to prevent waterlogged soil.
For optimal growth, Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea') prefers partial shade to full sun. Ideal spots are under dappled light of open trees or on the east side of a structure where it gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Too much sun can cause the leaves to scorch, whereas too much shade can lead to leggy growth and poor flowering.
Bugleweed thrives best in temperatures between 60°F and 75°F but can survive minimum temperatures down to around -20°F and can handle summer highs up to about 90°F. It is winter hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 10. Consistent temperatures within the ideal range promote vigorous growth and flowering.
Prune Bugleweed in late winter or early spring to remove any dead or damaged foliage and to maintain its appearance. Pruning may also be necessary to control its spread in the garden, as it can become invasive. Pruning right after flowering can stimulate a second bloom and helps to prevent self-seeding.
Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea') thrives in well-drained soils rich in organic matter, with a pH range from 3.5 to 6.5. To create the best soil mix, combine two parts garden soil, one part peat moss, and one part perlite or coarse sand to promote drainage and aeration. Regularly adding compost can help maintain soil fertility.
Bugleweed rarely needs repotting as it is a ground cover plant which spreads through stolons. Instead of repotting, it is typically divided or thinned out in the garden to control its spread or rejuvenate crowded clusters. Repotting or dividing should be done in the spring or early fall if necessary.
- Humidity & Misting
Bugleweed is not particularly humidity-sensitive and adapts to a wide range of outdoor humidity conditions. It is important to ensure good air circulation around the plants to prevent fungal diseases, particularly if they are grown in a more humid climate or environment.
- Suitable locations
Place in indirect light and water when top soil feels dry.
Plant in part shade, keep soil moist, mulch, and space 15cm apart.
- Life cycle
Bugleweed 'Atropurpurea' begins its life as a seed, which upon germination, gives rise to small seedlings. The seedlings develop into juvenile plants with characteristic deep purple leaves. As the plant matures, it forms a dense foliage mat through vegetative propagation, mainly stolons which spread horizontally and root at intervals. During the blooming stage, it produces spikes of blue to violet flowers in late spring to early summer, attracting pollinators. After pollination, the flowers develop into tiny nutlets that disperse to form new plants. In the fall, the foliage may die back, but the plant remains perennial, regrowing from the root system each spring.
Spring to early summer
Propogation: Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea', commonly known as Bugleweed, is best propagated in the spring or early fall. The most popular method of propagation for this plant is by division. To propagate by division, gently lift a clump of the plant from the ground using a garden fork or shovel, ensuring a good amount of roots are attached to each section. Separate the clump into smaller sections by hand or with a knife, each containing several shoots and a portion of the root system. Replant these divisions immediately into prepared soil at a similar depth to how they were originally growing, spacing them about 12 inches (approximately 30 centimeters) apart to allow for spreading. Water the new plantings thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots and eliminate air pockets. This method allows for a quick and effective way to expand your patch of Bugleweed or to create new patches in different areas of the garden.