Ajuga reptans 'Braunherz'
Common Name: bugleweed
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Blue - purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Black Walnut


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, humusy soils with good drainage, but tolerates moderately dry ones. Will grow in full shade, but best foliage color usually occurs in part-sun locations (at least 3-4 hours of sun per day). Provide good air circulation in hot and humid areas where crown rot is a problem. Divide plants if they become overcrowded. This low-growing bugleweed will spread in the garden by stolons (reptans means creeping) to form an attractive, mat-like ground cover. Plants may be cut back to the ground after flowering, if necessary, to rejuvenate the foliage. Large plantings may be mowed on a high mower setting to remove spent flower spikes and to tidy the appearance of the planting. Space plants 6-9” apart for prompt cover. On variegated forms promptly remove any non-variegated leaves that may appear.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ajuga reptans, commonly called bugleweed, is a dense, rapidly spreading, mat-forming ground cover which features shiny, dark green leaves. Whorls of tiny, blue-violet flowers appear in mid to late spring on spikes rising above the foliage to 10". Cultivars of this species feature leaves with more interesting and varied foliage color. When in full flower, large clumps of bugleweed can produce a striking display. Dense foliage will choke out weeds. Not particularly tolerant of foot traffic.

Genus name origin is unclear.

Specific epithet means creeping.

'Braunherz' typically spreads to form a foliage carpet which is only 2-4" tall and is most noted for its unusually dark foliage. It produces spreading rosettes of dark reddish-bronze oval leaves which mature to almost black. In the St. Louis area, it is essentially semi-evergreen with foliage retaining color during mild winters but depreciating significantly in harsh winters. Tiny bluish-purple, two-lipped flowers (typical mint family) appear in spring on dense spikes rising above the foliage from the rosette centers to 6" tall. When in full flower, plantings can produce a striking floral display, however this cultivar, as with most ajugas, is primarily grown for its foliage. The cultivar name of this plant is sometimes translated into English and sold by nurseries as 'Bronze Heart'.


Crown rot can be a problem, particularly in the humid conditions of the deep South and in heavy soils. Avoid planting in wet, heavy soils, provide good air circulation and divide when clumps become overcrowded. Also avoid planting near perennial beds or lawns where its spreading nature could pose removal problems.

Garden Uses

Primary use is as a ground cover. Will fill in large, shady areas where lawns are difficult to establish. May also be planted on banks or slopes, under trees or around shrubs. Can be planted over spring bulbs such as snowdrops (Galanthus). Avoid planting adjacent to lawn areas since little islands of ajuga may start appearing in the grass. Good for small spaces, containers and rock gardens.