Protecting Ajuga In Winter
I'm fairly new to gardening. I have many books and have also spent a lot of time looking through the web and this forum. Still confused.
I live in Omaha (zone 5). Winters can be brutal but variable. Last winter had the mildest temps I ever remember and almost no snow cover. 3 winters ago very cold and constant snow cover. Cycles of snowing and melting are common.
I planted quite a lot of Ajuga Reptans (mostly Bronze Beauty) last year and more this year. Last winter most were not covered. Most plants experienced some die back. Some more than others. Much quickly grew back in spring and kept growing. Some didn't do so well. One patch was covered with leaves. It did the best. No die back and quick growth in spring.
My question has to do with covering the plants in winter. There seems to be differing opinions on covering perennials in winter. Some say cover with leaves. Others saw only oak leaves as others flatten out. Other say chop leaves up. I would think that would be a mess to try to clear soggy chopped leaves in the spring without damaging plants. Others suggest straw as a cover.
Most of the discussion seems to be around perennials that die back to the ground, just protecting the roots. I doubt that my Ajuga would completely die back. If covered with leaves would the plants be sufficient to keep the leaves from flattening? I have abundant trees, mostly Siberian Elm and Mulberry (lucky me) plus some Maple.
Am I better off covering with leaves or would straw be better or should I take my chances leaving them exposed?
For what it's worth most of my Ajuga is on some kind of slope. I read somewhere that Ajuga does best on a hill due to drainage issues and my experience bears that out. I have noticed the Ajuga I planted on level ground didn't do well, the stuff on the hill did great.
Any advice, experience, etc is appreciated.