Burgundy Glow AjugaAjuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow'
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The Burgundy Glow Bugleweed is a tough and reliable groundcover plant that grows almost anywhere, all across the country. It has low-growing evergreen rosettes of leaves that are burgundy-pink in spring, mid-green with white borders in summer, and bronzy-red in winter. Often all colors are visible at the same time. In early spring short stems rise up, carrying bright, violet-blue flowers that are spectacular when covering a mass planting. Grow this plant anywhere in your garden you have bare earth, beneath shrubs and trees, and in those awkward bare strips along fences and walls.
Almost all light levels suit the Burgundy Glow Bugleweed – from full sun to light full shade. It grows best in moist, well-drained richer soils, but it is very adaptable and grows happily in all but the driest spots, and even in wet ground in less humid zones. It is normally untroubled by pests or diseases and deer leave it alone. A quick trim with a lawn mower or shears after flowering is the most care needed, and that is optional. Although it can spread a little it isn’t considered a problem invasive plant.
The quickest way to make your garden look richer and fuller is to cover the soil with plants. Mulches will control weeds to some degree, and reduce water loss, but too much mulch gives your garden a dry, empty look. Groundcover plants, on the other hand, also control weeds and reduce water loss, but they bring lushness and variety, adding another dimension to your planting, and making awkward corners and out of the way places attractive and inviting. Those areas of empty ground can be in anything from sun to shade, and with all kinds of soil conditions, so the ideal plant for ‘universal groundcover’ will be tough, adaptable, and grow just about anywhere, as well as colorful. Meet the Burgundy Glow Bugleweed. This plant won’t blow it’s own trumpet, so we will do it instead. Constantly changing seasonal colors, from dark red to green, white and bronze; adaptable to local climates all across the country; grows everywhere from full sun to full shade; fast-growing and adaptable to almost all soils – this check list should convince anyone that no garden is complete without this great little groundcover.
The Burgundy Glow Bugleweed is also called Ajuga, and it is a small, usually evergreen, leafy plant that spreads outwards on short stems to make many clusters or rosettes of leaves. When just leafy it is at most 6 inches tall – flower stems in spring add another 3 to 5 inches. It spreads sideways more or less indefinitely, but to create a solid cover in a couple of seasons you can reckon on one plant covering about 12 across. The solid mat of leaves it creates is the big attraction, and these leaves are beautiful. Each leaf in the cluster is around 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, shaped like a spoon, with a glossy surface and a slightly crinkled texture. New leaves, especially in spring grow out a warm burgundy-pink, and as they develop they change to mid-green with white edges. In winter the whole plant often turns dark bronzy-red, particularly in colder zones.
Short stems grow up in early spring to 9 or 10 inches above the ground, carrying small leaves and bright tubular flowers of rich violet-blue. A clump in bloom is striking and very attractive, and over a large area it forms an ocean or rich blue beneath your trees.
For almost any areas of bare soil in your garden, Burgundy Glow Bugleweed is your go-to. From full sun to light full shade, it quickly forms a solid covering, turning ‘dull and bare’ into ‘colorful and happy’. Even a single clump will brighten a small bed, but it is usually grown over larger areas, spacing plants between 9 and 18 inches apart, depending on how quickly you want to achieve a solid cover.
It is true that the Latin name ‘reptans’ means creeping, and this plant will creep around. But it does this at a pretty slow pace, and it’s easily controlled. Some people do like to see it escape into their lawn, adding a splash of color, but if that isn’t for you, plant it against paths and hard surfaces, or keep an eye on the division between your beds and lawns and pull it out if it begins to cross over. It doesn’t have deep, persistent roots and easily pulls off the surface. You can even replant the rooted clumps to spread it where you need it. Interestingly, although it can escape into garden areas it rarely survives in truly wild places, so it isn’t generally considered a dangerous alien plant species.
The Burgundy Glow Ajuga is incredibly adaptable, growing even in icy zone 3, and just as happily in ice-free zone 10.
This plant is very adaptable to light conditions. It will grow everywhere from full sun to full shade, if it isn’t too dark, such as beneath large evergreens. In cooler zones some sun is valuable for good growth, but in warmer zones it can tolerate more shade and be happy in light full shade. Stronger leaf colors develop with some sun, but if the heat makes the soil too dry it won’t be so happy anymore. Burgundy Glow Bugleweed grows best in moist, richer, well-drained soils, but it’s very adaptable and grows just about anywhere. In cooler zones it will grow in damp to wet soil too, but in hot zones this can lead to rot and fungal diseases, so good drainage is best. It doesn’t grow so well in very dry earth, especially in hotter zones, but a bit of water from time to time will often fix that.
Most people grow this plant ‘maintenance-free’. More fussy gardeners might take the mower and run over it (set the blades at 3 to 4 inches) once the flowers end. You don’t usually need to rake up. This will remove the old flower stalks and encourage lots of fresh new growth. Nothing more is needed. If bare patches develop, turn over the soil in them, add some fertilizer, and transplant a few clumps from nearby – the area will quickly fill in again. It very rarely suffers from pests or diseases and deer leave it alone.
The bugleweed, Ajuga reptans, is a member of the mint family (although the leaves don’t smell at all) that grows naturally in Europe, particularly in Ireland and Great Britain. It also occurs further east, into the mountains of Iran. It was brought to North America a very long time ago, but we don’t have any particular record of that. Over the years as many as 40 different varieties have been found, but the one called ‘Burgundy Glow’ has always been popular and widely grown. It’s origins have been lost.
The demand for ground cover plants is always huge, and we find it impossible to keep popular plants like this one in stock. So calculate how many you need and place your order right away, because we hardly get time to unpack new stock before it is packed again for shipping out.