Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 283 Liriope muscari

Common Names: liriope, border grass, lily-turf Family: Liliaceae (lily Family)
Image Gallery

a bed of liriope in bloom
A bed of liriope in a Tallahassee, Florida park lifts spikes of small violet blossoms into a misty July morning.

Description

Liriope, also commonly called border grass is not actually a grass but a member of the lily family, a fact that inspires another of its common names, lilyturf. The dark green, ribbonlike foliage grows in length from 10 to 18 in (25-46 cm) and then recurves toward the ground to form rounded clumps. As the clumps mature they merge into a continuous carpet that resembles a plot of shaggy lawn grass. In summer, spikes of small purple, violet or white flowers rise from the center of clumps. Flowers are followed by pea-sized black or white berries in autumn. Liriope spreads quite fast in reasonable soil, creating a substantial tuberous root mass. The plant itself is similar in appearance and landscape use to mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) which has finer textured foliage and bears its flowers within the clumps rather than above it like liriope.

Liriope is available in several varieties including some with white and yellow variegation. 'Monroe White' has white flowers while 'Big Blue' has intense violet-blue blossoms.

liriope blossoms
Although its small blossoms are difficult to see hidden in the low growing foliage, they are quit showy when you lie on the ground to take pictures of them.

Location

Liriope muscari is a native of the shady forest floors of Eastern Asia including regions in China, Taiwan and Japan.

Culture

Becomes established most rapidly in well worked, fertile soil, but is tolerant of much less than ideal conditions. This plant is a true survivor and will grow almost anywhere! Light: Sun to shade. Moisture: Average. Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 - 11. Propagation: Divide clumps into whatever size you like from a few leaves to large chunks. Liriope transplants easily at any time of year. The blue-black berries easily germinate, but divisions are easier and quicker.

Usage

Use liriope to outline planting beds and to trace the route of paths and walkways. Because it is inexpensive and fast growing, this is an ideal shape defining plant in the landscape, traits that have earned it another common name border grass. Liriope is one of the best and most beautiful ground covers for shady gardens and even boasts summertime color. Because of its dense root mass, liriope is an excellent choice for controlling erosion on steep, shady slopes by stabilizing the soil and suppressing weed growth - no mowing either!

Pete the Dane laying on a liriope border
This is Petey the Great Dane at 5 months of age resting in the comfort of a liriope border. All of the dogs enjoy lying around on what they see as a linear liriope futon. The border quickly recovers upon removal of Dane. I miss him.

Features

The evergreen foliage is thick and luxurious and fallen leaves and debris tend to disappear within. Liriope is tough, easy to grow and readily available from nurseries and garden centers. Before you run out to buy some though, check with the neighbors - they probably have a few clumps that they'd be happy to share with you.

Jack Scheper 12/08/97; updated 8/18/02, 8/15/03, 8/9/05, 6/16/07, 6/29/09



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Liriope species profiled on Floridata:


Liriope muscari

( liriope, border grass, lily-turf )

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