Propagating Ajuga as ground cover

(Question)

What is the easiest way to propagate ajuga as ground cover? When our neighbour pulled up the ajuga in his garden he piled it on the grass before gathering it up to put into the composter. Some tiny pieces he missed took root and several years later he has patches of it in other areas of the yard (he says it was because the mower cut it up and carried it to those other areas).

We have a bare area around where we laid patio pavers and I would like to fill it with ajuga instead of grass (I’d replace all of the grass with it if I could) and he gave me permission to transplant some. I moved a few plants and they looked OK until last week’s heat wave baked them and they all withered & died.

I have been thinking about how his mower carried little bits of ajuga far & wide and have been wondering if it would propagate better if I just cut up the plants and spread the pieces on the ground instead of transplanting the roots?

 

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry.

Ajuga, commonly known as bugleweed, are low-growing plants that thrive in a sunny area in moist, fertile soil.

Ajuga a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) spreads by underground runners called stolons , and like mint it can get out of control without proper care. However, when placed in strategic locations, its quick growth and mat-forming trait can provide instant coverage with only a few plants.

Ajuga can be easily propagated from either seed or by division. To propagate from seed begin by sowing the seed in containers in fall or spring. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil or compost making sure to keep the soil moist. The seeds should germinate within a month. Pick our individual plants and transplant to larger containers. In the summer, move the seedlings to your garden bed.

Propagation of ajuga by division is best done in early spring or fall when temperatures are cool enough to allow for the growth and establishment of new roots. Dig out the clumps and pull or cut them apart into smaller sections, then replant them in another location. You can also cut out big sections of the ajuga mat – like lawn sod – and move it to a new location.

You were on the right track with your initial transplants. The only reason your transplants died was due to the extreme heat. Transplanting should never be done when temperatures are high. The roots in a newly transplanted perennial are not capable of absorbing the necessary amount of water and minerals required to keep the plant alive.