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Why I Love Liriope

Jill is a former Master Gardener and Naturalist who enjoys cooking, abstract painting and stewardship.

Liriope produces showy purple flower stalks in summer.

Liriope produces showy purple flower stalks in summer.

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.

Like variegated liriope, plain green L. muscari is great for erosion control.

Like variegated liriope, plain green L. muscari is great for erosion control.

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.

L. muscari blooms in late summer and fall.

L. muscari blooms in late summer and fall.

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.

Like coleus, l. muscari grows best in hot, humid conditions.

Like coleus, l. muscari grows best in hot, humid conditions.

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?

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In spring,  tufts of liriope emerge from old plants.

In spring, tufts of liriope emerge from old plants.

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.

Filler Plantings

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.

Accent Plants

L. muscari, particularly variegated varieties, is pretty enough to be used as accent plants in pots or beds.

How do you love liriope?


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.

Mass Plantings

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


Angelo52 on June 16, 2014:

Nice plant. I have ficus bushes I'd like to replace along the front edge of the villa in live in. Maybe these can make a nice substitute.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on June 16, 2014:

Hi Dolores. You're going to have to organize a liriope planting party! lol Thanks for commenting. --Jill

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on June 16, 2014:

I really like Liriope and have thought about using it on a short but steep slope out front. It's a pain to mow and Liriope would look nice. It would be quite a project but one of these days....

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on May 26, 2014:

Hi Deb! Great to hear from you. I completely understand your friend's impulse! Sometimes a dying plant at the market is hard to resist. (We can save it, right?) (: Have a great Memorial Day! --Jill

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on May 25, 2014:

I had a friend tell me about this--she got some Lowes rejects and hey all died, so I never saw how they looked. They really are beautiful!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on May 22, 2014:

Hi Glimmer Twin Fan! You would be cutting it close in Zone 5! Thanks for stopping by. Nice to here from & hope you're doing well, too. It's a busy time of year, isn't it?

Hi Rebecca! How are you? Mondo grass does look a lot like liriope. Are they related? I have some growing in a place that gets lots of foot traffic because . . . well, nothing seems to kill it! I've never noticed it blooming, but . . . our mondo grass has a stressful life. Nice to hear from you! --Jill

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 21, 2014:

I've had this in the past and called it mondo grass. I may be totally off track on that. Anyway, despite what it's called, it is a great addition to landscaping. Thanks for showing it off so well~

Claudia Porter on May 21, 2014:

Unfortunately I think it's too cold to have Liriope up here in zone 5, especially after this winter. But it is a beautiful plant and love the variegation. Hope you are well Jill.

RTalloni on May 09, 2014:

I hadn't thought of mixing liriope with coleus in a border until reading this, but how really stunning some of the combinations could be--thanks!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on May 09, 2014:

Hi MsDora! Thanks for stopping by. A friend I garden with taught me how to pronounce liriope, which I was forever messing up. It rhymes with calliope! Take care, Jill

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 08, 2014:

I've seen and enjoyed that purple stalk; never knew its name. Thank you so much for providing these details.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on May 03, 2014:

That's awesome, Lee. Plants you can divide and spread and give away are the absolutely the best. I just gave away divisions of liriope this morning. They grow better when you share, you know! I love that you can use spider plants outdoors down there in Fla. I had no idea! If I didn't like cool weather so much, I might just envy you! Take care, Lee. It was nice to hear from you. --Jill

Lee Raynor from Citra Florida on May 03, 2014:

Hey Jill

I've been adding liriope for years and it is nearly indestructible. I've planted it in lousy soil in deep shade and it still grew (slowly) until I got back to it 5 years later. Lately I've been dividing little bits and potting them for future planting, a cheap way to add plants.

My latest project is spider plants. Winters are mild enough here to use them as a ground cover in the shade and it's interesting to watch them march across the ground


Jill Spencer (author) from United States on May 03, 2014:

Thanks so much, Eddy. I hope you have a great weekend, too. The weather is beautiful here, so we've been working outside most of the day. All the best, Jill

Eiddwen from Wales on May 03, 2014:

I had never heard of this wonderful plant until now. Thanks for the introduction Jill. Voting up and enjoy your weekend.


Jill Spencer (author) from United States on May 03, 2014:

Hi grand old lady! So glad that you stopped by. Are you turning those plants you kill into compost? lol I hope you can get your hands on some liriope. It should live! All the best, Jill

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on May 02, 2014:

Considering our tropical weather, I'm seriously gonna look for liriope in the Philippines. But first, I have to finish my compost, which I am proud to say is doing pretty well, despite my lack of a green thumb and criminal record of dead plants.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on May 02, 2014:

Hi purl3agony. I'm not sure where you live, but liriope usually turns brown or brownish red over the winter unless they're growing in a very temperate zone w/almost no winter. If that's all it is (cold damage) just clip them down to the ground or run the lawnmower over them. They will sprout up again & look much better.

Thanks for stopping by! Always good to hear from you. --Jill

Donna Herron from USA on May 02, 2014:

Hi Jill - We have a few of these in our front yard, but didn't know what they were :) Thanks for helping us solve another mystery! I've noticed that some of our Liriopes have developed brown spots. Is this a bad thing? We have not, and did not know to, trim them down. Could this just be the old growth decaying?

Thanks, as always, for another great hub. Voting up and pining!!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on May 02, 2014:

Hi Kate! Thanks for stopping by. Liriope would be a great plant to add to your garden if you're in the right zone. Even if you only buy one, you can always divide it the next year and have a bunch more! All the best, Jill

Preston and Kate from the Midwest on May 02, 2014:

We don't have any Liriope in our landscaping, but we are looking to add some new blooms this year. Glad to learn something new here! -Kate

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