Why I Love Liriope
If you live in the American South, you're probably familiar with Liriope muscari.
Familiarly called monkey grass or lilyturf, L. muscari is a favorite ground cover of southern commercial landscapers, and it is often planted en masse at shopping malls and industrial parks.
Critics of lilyturf sometimes complain that it's overused, but I really like it. After all, there are good reasons landscapers love L. muscari. It has many of the positive qualities most gardeners look for when choosing plants.
Liriope grows just about anywhere.
L. muscari isn't picky about soil, light or water.
Lilyturf is hardy in USDA Zones 6-10, and if you live in those zones, you can grow it just about anywhere in your yard.
If your region is relatively warm in winter, liriope will remain green year round. If the winter months grow cold where you live, its leaves will either brown or die back like a herbaceous perennial.
L. muscari has the qualities most gardeners look for when choosing low-maintenance plants.
Liriope can be planted anywhere. It isn’t picky about location. Neither does it have special soil requirements. It performs well in full sun as well as full shade; however, for best performance, grow it in partial shade, that is, in a location that receives four to six hours of direct sunlight each day.
Liriope is drought tolerant, too, but if conditions are humid as well as hot, its leaves will be glossy and bright, and it will produce big, showy flowers.
Liriope blooms at a good time of year.
Liriope blooms when many other plants are coming to the end of their flowering period.
In late summer and early fall, when lots of other plants are going to seed, L. muscari flowers, sending up stalks of white, blue or purple flowers, depending upon the cultivar.
Although liriope blooms aren't usually as showy as those of mums, asters and cock’s comb, they nevertheless add a nice pop of color to the garden at a time when its producing fewer flowers.
For the glossiest leaves and the biggest blooms, grow liriope in partial shade under hot, humid conditions.
Liriope is low maintenance.
L. muscari requires very little care. In fact, you can ignore it most of the year.
It has a compact growing habit, forming neat clumps don't require pruning.
To keep l. muscari looking neat over the winter, however, you can clip it to the ground by hand or run over it with a lawnmower after it has finished blooming. Easy, huh?
Since winters are mild here in Zone 8, I cut our liriope back in early spring.
The clumps are easy to divide and transplant in the spring. Split them just as you would a hosta.
If you live in a temperate zone where liriope stays green throughout the year, you can also divide the clumps in the fall and allow them to establish themselves over the winter.
Liriope dresses up your garden.
L. muscari can be use in a variety of ways.
Each clump of lirope reaches widths of about a foot to a foot and a half, depending upon the variety — something to keep in mind when you're deciding on a location for your liriope plants.
L. muscari can be used as filler in flowerbeds and landscaping islands. Groupings of odd numbers of plants (three, five or seven) serve nicely to provide visual interest in areas that would otherwise be drab after bulbs, annuals and other herbaceous perennials have completed their bloom cycle.
L. muscari, particularly variegated varieties, is pretty enough to be used as accent plants in pots or beds.
How do you love liriope?
I like it best . . .
Planted in a row or along a the edge of a flowerbed, fence, wall or sidewalk, liriope also makes an excellent edging or border plant.
Planted en masse, liriope provides erosion control in sunny, shady, or partially shady locations.
Caring for the mass planting it easy. As noted above, after the end of the growing season, just mow l. muscari down with a lawnmower to keep the mass planting looking neat throughout the winter.
© 2014 Jill Spencer