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What is Ajuga?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Ajuga is a large genus of creeping plants utilized as ornamental groundcovers in many regions of the world. Gardeners often enjoy working with plants in this genus because they require minimal maintenance, and they will thrive with even indifferent care. This can make Ajuga useful for large gardens, as it can be quickly established for beautification, allowing the gardener to focus on more intensive projects in other areas of the garden. However, Ajuga species can also become invasive, which is something which gardeners should think about before planting them.

These plants are in the mint family. They have upright rosettes of leaves, and they produce clusters of blue, purple, or white flowers. Many Ajuga cultivars have variegated foliage, with some being evergreen, while others are deciduous. The plant spreads by putting out runners, and it can most effectively be controlled by edging plantings with a spade every fall to keep the plants from sprawling.

Ideally, Ajuga should be planted in well-drained soil in partial sun to shade. Full sun can be too intense for these plants, and they may die back or fail to thrive. In dry months, the plants should be watered, and fertilization can help them thrive if they are growing in harsh soil. The flowers usually appear in the late spring, and they can create a bright, colorful carpet if the plants are healthy.

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Some ways to use Ajuga species include: as a groundcover in a shady area of the garden, as a border planting, or as a fill around cobblestones and walls. Most species are hardy in USDA zones three through nine, and many garden stores and nurseries carry Ajuga species or can order specific cultivars by request. It is also possible to grow plants from cuttings or plugs cut from an existing and well-established planting; for example, when someone edges a bed of Ajuga, the plants which are cut away can be planted in another area of the garden, or passed on to a friend.

As long as Ajuga is kept under control, it should not become too invasive. Gardeners may want to be careful about planting it near the edges of their property, as it could spread into a neighbor's garden, and people who live in sensitive environmental areas may want to consider planting natives instead, as the plant could spread and overwhelm native plants. Gardeners should also be aware that once Ajuga is established, it can be very hard to get rid of, which means that planting it should be viewed as a permanent decision.

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