How to Grow Liriope

An evergreen perennial, liriope — also known as lilyturf and monkey grass — makes a great ground cover and border plant in the landscape.

April 30, 2020
Liriope muscari

Liriope muscari

Liriope muscari is a species of low, herbaceous flowering plants from East Asia.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Ancha Chiangmai

Shutterstock/Ancha Chiangmai

Liriope muscari is a species of low, herbaceous flowering plants from East Asia.

Liriope (Liriope spp.) is a tough, evergreen, grass-like perennial. Also called lilyturf and monkey grass, it has beautified landscapes with deep green or variegated foliage and lavender flowers for generations. Liriope is sometimes confused with its smaller relative, mondo grass, and is often outshined by showier ornamental grasses. However, when you need a combination of beauty, versatility and rugged functionality, look no further than low-maintenance liriope.

How to Use Liriope

L.muscari grows in rather tight clumps. Use ‘Big Blue’ or ‘Variegata’ as edging plants to neatly outline walkways, or as border grass to define the margins of landscape islands. The clumps stay put without sending runners into adjacent plantings. The name lilyturf comes from its ability to serve as a flowering lawn substitute under certain conditions, however it is not suitable for foot traffic.

Liriope muscari 'Big Blue'

Liriope muscari 'Big Blue'

Liriope muscari, commonly called lilyturf or blue lily turf, is a tufted, tuberous-rooted, grass-like perennial which typically grows 12-18" tall.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Big High Mountian

Shutterstock/Big High Mountian

Liriope muscari, commonly called lilyturf or blue lily turf, is a tufted, tuberous-rooted, grass-like perennial which typically grows 12-18" tall.

L. spicata spreads to form open colonies. It helps with erosion control on mild slopes and thrives in the shade beneath shallow-rooted trees. Plant ‘Silver Dragon’ as a silvery highlight mixed with other spreading ground covers like mondo grass.

How to Grow Liriope

Grow all types of liriope in full sun to partial shade, and in moist, well-drained soil. Established plants can grow in high heat, excessive humidity and drought-prone areas.

In deep shade, the leaves grow long and thin, and plant growth slows significantly. The evergreen foliage declines in severe cold. Cut liriope plants back to the ground in later winter to make way for fresh new foliage in spring.

Propagating Liriope

Propagate by division and transplanting. Divide L. muscari by lifting plants in spring and using a spade or garden knife to cut sections with at least 3 to 5 shoots each. Transplant L. spicata plants individually from areas of high density to new or low-density areas.

How to Care for Liriope

Liriope are low-maintenance plants with few problems. Slugs and snails may chew on the foliage but rarely do these mollusks cause significant damage. Pick them off as you see them, and employ slug traps if damage becomes excessive.

Too much rain or overhead irrigation may lead to anthracnose infection — a fungal disease that causes brown leaf tips followed by yellowing and dieback of foliage. Other diseases caused by excessive moisture include leaf rot, root rot and crown rot. Plant only in well-drained locations and avoid overhead irrigation to virtually eliminate these problems.

Types of Liriope

Liriope comes in clumping or spreading forms, and deep green or variegated foliage. In late summer tiered whorls of flowers are followed by black berries in the fall. Though they differ in appearance, they have similar growing needs and are treated similarly.

Liriope 'Big Blue'

Liriope 'Big Blue'

Clumping 'Big Blue' liriope is a perennial with grassy "straps" that grow up and spill over, like a fountain. Hardy in Zones 5 to 10, it opens lilac-purple blooms in summer.

Photo by: Walter's Gardens, Inc.

Walter's Gardens, Inc.

Clumping 'Big Blue' liriope is a perennial with grassy "straps" that grow up and spill over, like a fountain. Hardy in Zones 5 to 10, it opens lilac-purple blooms in summer.

Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’

  • Zone: 5-10
  • Height: 12" to 18"
  • Spread: 12" to 24"
  • Bloom Time: late summer
  • Bloom Description: lavender flower spikes
  • Sun: full sun to part shade
  • Water: medium
Liriope muscari 'Variegata'

Liriope muscari 'Variegata'

Liriope muscari 'Variegata' (Variegated Lily Turf) is an evergreen tuberous perennial forming a loose clump of narrow, arching, green leaves striped with creamy white.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Elana Rodina

Shutterstock/Elana Rodina

Liriope muscari 'Variegata' (Variegated Lily Turf) is an evergreen tuberous perennial forming a loose clump of narrow, arching, green leaves striped with creamy white.

Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’

  • Zone: 5-10
  • Height: 12" to 24"
  • Spread: 12" to 24"
  • Bloom Time: late summer
  • Bloom Description: purple flower spikes
  • Sun: full sun to part shade
  • Water: medium
Liriope spicata 'Silver Dragon'

Liriope spicata 'Silver Dragon'

Liriope spicata 'Silver Dragon' is an evergreen grass-like perennial that spreads by underground runners to form wide colonies of narrow upright green white-striped foliage to 1 foot tall and easily spreading 3 feet wide or more.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Phoebe P

Shutterstock/Phoebe P

Liriope spicata 'Silver Dragon' is an evergreen grass-like perennial that spreads by underground runners to form wide colonies of narrow upright green white-striped foliage to 1 foot tall and easily spreading 3 feet wide or more.

Liriope spicata ‘Gin-ryu’ (Silver Dragon)

  • Zone: 4-10
  • Height: 8" to 18"
  • Spread: 8" to 18"
  • Bloom Time: late summer
  • Bloom Description: pale lavender flower spikes
  • Sun: full sun to part shade
  • Water: medium

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