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Publication #FPS26

Ajuga reptans Bugleweed, Carpet Bugleweed1

Edward F. Gilman2


This ground-hugging groundcover produces a profusion of dark green to bronze- or purple-colored leaves in a flat rosette, spreading fairly quickly by runners or stolons (Figure 1). Plant on 6 to 12-inch centers for quick establishment of a thick ground cover. Six-inch tall spikes of small blue flowers are produced in spring to early summer and are especially attractive when plants are massed together. There are selections with foliage variegated in green, white, red, yellow, and pink.

Figure 1. 


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General Information

Scientific name: Ajuga reptans
Pronunciation: uh-JOO-guh REP-tanz
Common name(s): Bugleweed, carpet bugleweed
Family: Lamiaceae
Plant type: ground cover; perennial; herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 4 through 10A (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: mass planting; container or above-ground planter; ground cover; edging
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant
Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

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Height: 0 to 0.5 feet
Spread: 0.5 to 1 feet
Plant habit: prostrate (flat)
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: basal rosette
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: undulate
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: purple or red; variegated
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Foliage of bugleweed.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Flower color: pink
Flower characteristic: spring flowering


Fruit shape: no fruit
Fruit length: no fruit
Fruit cover: no fruit
Fruit color: no fruit
Fruit characteristic: no fruit

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: not applicable
Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun; plant grows in the shade
Soil tolerances: slightly alkaline; acidic; clay; sand; loam;
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerance: poor
Plant spacing: 6 to 12 inches


Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: aggressive, spreading plant
Pest resistance: very sensitive to one or more pests or diseases which can affect plant health or aesthetics

Use and Management

Growing best in shady locations, bugle weed will tolerate full sun in the northern end of its range as long as it can be provided with moist, but not soggy, fertile soil. It looks best in small gardens or small spaces and in other enclosed areas where the tight foliage can cover the ground around or in front of small shrubs.

Available cultivars include: 'Multicoloris,' leaves mottled red, white, and yellow on green; 'Alba,' white flowers; 'Atropurpurea,' bronze foliage and blue flowers; 'Burgundy Glow,' new leaves bright burgundy-red, mature leaves cream/white and dark pink; 'Rubra,' rose flowers, more vigorous; 'Variegata,' grey-green leaves with cream markings.

Propagation is by division, rarely by seed.

Susceptible to nematodes on sandy soils.

Pests and Diseases

Crown rot can occur on soggy soils.



This document is FPS26, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.