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Do Deer Eat Ajuga or Bugleweed? (Everything You Need To Know)

Beautiful Blue and Voilet Ajuga Flowers of this specie is also known as Geneva bugleweed - will deer eat my beautiful ajuga flowers and plants
The beautiful blue and violet flowers of Ajuga genevensis are also known as Geneva bugleweed. Plant with flowers.

Deer can eat ajuga, though they rarely do. Ajuga has spiky flowers and bitter-tasting leaves, making deer uneasy while chewing. Hence, they will only eat ajuga when there is insufficient food.

In this article, you will get answers about the deer-Ajuga relationship, the benefits of growing ajuga, and tips on caring for it.

Ready, let us begin

Do deer like to eat ajuga?

Ajuga reptans, also called bugleweed, common names bugleweed or carpetweed, is a quick-growing herbaceous plant that chokes weeds.

Carpetweed bears flower spikes that let out purple or violet flowers in late spring. Many people grow the plant because of its aesthetic appeal and minimal care needs.

As earlier stated, deer will rarely eat ajuga; let us look at the specific parts of the plant and whether deer will munch on them.

Do deer eat ajuga leaves?

Bugleweed grows stalked purple-green leaves in opposite pairs. The leaves don’t have a scent, but deer find their bitter taste a turn-off.

Scientists have proven that deer like sweet-tasting plants that provide them with the required nutrients to grow, like cereal grasses, bamboo leaves, peanuts, Soybeans, beets, pumpkins, cabbages, etc.

So even though deer aren’t picky, they have plants they prefer eating, and ajuga leaves aren’t a favorite.

Kindly note that when deer face starvation, they will munch on anything, even prickly plant parts.

Do deer eat ajuga stems?

Ajuga stems have milky sap and tiny hairs all over them. When deer chew on the stem, the milky sap that oozes out irritates them.

They will also experience difficulty swallowing the stems because of the hairs.

As a result, deer will keep away from ajuga stems and even the plant’s flowers; they have spikes.

Is ajuga poisonous to deer?

Carpet weed isn’t toxic to deer; they can and will eat it when that’s the only available food.

Deer only ignores the plant because there are tastier and more nutritious plants that they can eat.

There hasn’t been a case reported of deer dying after eating ajuga, and you can find the weed in many states that have plenty of deer.

Can you use ajuga to keep away deer?

Bugleweed can help reduce the deer invasions in your garden. Since deer don’t like its smell and taste, they will move on to find tastier plants.

However, you should be cautious, ajuga grows aggressively, and it may invade your garden and choke off your crops.

Moreover, ajuga doesn’t grow that high. It mainly reaches 6 feet, a height that deer can quickly jump over.

Note that deer can develop a taste for a plant they previously disliked in some cases. Therefore, before using ajuga as a deterrent, run a test to see if the deer in your area will eat it or not.

To effectively protect your plants, you can’t rely solely on bugleweed. Instead, you should add more measures like

  • Using deer repellent sprays
  • Windchimes
  • Motion sensing sprinklers
  • Erecting an 8 feet high fence all around your garden.

Other plants can also act as deer deterrents.

PlantScientific Name
MarigoldsTagetes erecta
BeebalmMonorada Didyma
ChivesAllium schoenoprasum
RosemarySalvia rosmarinus
Lambs earStachys byzantina
OreganoOriganum vulgare
BarrenwortEpimedium rubrum
SpearmintMentha spicata

Is there a type of ajuga that deer like?

There are more than 40 varieties of Ajuga globally, and scientists are yet to find any among them that deer prefer.

The main reason is that they all have similar characteristics in taste and presence of hairs on their stems, factors that make deer avoid them.

Types of ajuga you can grow.

  • A. reptans Atropurpureum; purple – bronze-colored foliage
  • A. reptans Black Scallop; has blue spikes and dark scalloped leaves
  • A. reptans Chocolate Chip; dense foliage with a pint of chocolate brown at the edges.
  • A. reptans Dixie Chip; tri-colored variegated foliage (green, creamy- white, deep- rose)
  • A. reptans Burgundy Glow; also has variegated leaves (pink, white and green)

How to care for ajuga

To enjoy the benefits of ajuga, you have to help it thrive. Here are some tips to follow


Ajuga grows well in part shade and full sun locations. When the plant receives at least 4 hours of sunshine a day, its foliage glows and becomes vibrant.


Though bugleweed can withstand somewhat dry conditions, new blooming plants require at least one to two inches of water weekly.

The more established plants don’t need much water. One inch of water per week is enough.


Ajuga prefers well-drained soils with medium moisture and plenty of organic matter. However, it can also grow in moderately dry soil.


There is no need to provide fertilizer unless the plant is in soil with little organic matter.

When you notice the leaves are turning color, you can use granular fertilizer or water-soluble manure (1 tablespoon for a gallon of water)

Apply the fertilizer early in the morning and remove any fertilizer particles from the leaves; they may burn them.

Kindly don’t plant bugleweed near lawn areas. The plant snowballs; it can therefore spread over turfgrass.

Benefits of growing ajuga in your backyard

Ajuga reptans is a medicinal plant
Ajuga reptans is a medicinal plant

Apart from bugleweed’s ability to protect your plants from deer, it also has other numerous benefits that include

Enhances digestion

Regularly taking ajuga tea helps alleviate stomach disorders like dyspepsia, gastritis, and enteritis.

The tea also relieves the pain resulting from diarrhea, and it facilitates faster recovery.

Sleep disorders

People with sleeping disorders and insomnia have used ajuga leaves to tackle these issues for years. 

Bugleweed leaves contain an extract that interacts with your hormones, balancing your circadian rhythms to facilitate rest. Therefore, you will be able to sleep faster and longer.

Weight loss

Bugleweed is low in calories, and it also helps lower your appetite, a factor that makes it ideal for people on a diet.

Dawn Jackson Blatner, a leading nutritionist in Miami, stated that he likes recommending bugleweed to his patients trying to lose weight.

He argued that people who ate plenty of bugleweeds had lower food cravings than those who didn’t.

Speedy healing

Applying ajuga extract to the area fastens the healing process when you get a small cut or a bruise.

Bugleweed extract has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that enhance the growth of cells, reduce inflammation, and prevent infection.

Heart protection

Ajuga contains compounds that help stabilize the heartbeat and lessen blood pressure.

Hence chances of you suffering from strokes or heart attacks reduce rapidly.

Respiratory health

Ancient tribes used bugleweed to treat shortness of breath, sore throats, and excessive coughs. Applications that are still relevant today.


People suffering from chronic anxiety benefit from ajuga leaf extracts soothing and relaxing qualities. 

Isn’t toxic to pets

Your furry friends can occasionally eat some ajuga leaves or fruits, which won’t negatively impact them.

Soil Erosion

You can use ajuga to stop soil erosion, it spreads fast, covering an area, and its roots hold the soil. So, only a tiny amount of dirt gets washed away when it rains.

Relieves menstrual pain

Researchers have determined that creeping weed can aid women experiencing premenstrual disorders.

An Infusion of the plant’s extract provides women with a stress-free menstrual period and regulates the flow.

Maintains blood pressure levels

The antihypertensive properties of Ajuga help regulate blood flow, which reduces the chances of high or low blood pressure.