When it comes to selecting a groundcover plant, certain aspects of the cultivar are taken into consideration. It should be able to withstand a wide range of moisture levels, soil conditions, light intensity and other growth factors. Then only, the low growing plant variety will be qualified as an excellent groundcover.
One of the cultivars that meets all these expectations is liriope. It performs well even in areas, where regular turf grass is difficult to grow and maintain. Its desirable attributes are long, evergreen leaves and purple flowers.
Brief Info about Liriope Plant
Otherwise known as lilyturf, monkey grass, border grass or spider grass, the Liriope is the genus name for a group of small flowering plants. Despite the alternative name lilyturf, it is neither related to lily nor to the turf grass.
There are various liriope varieties, of which the most commonly planted ones are Liriope spicata (creeping liriope), L. muscari (liriope big blue), L. muscari 'Variegata'. The former spreads quickly by means of runners, while the latter two are clump forming plants. The liriope variegata is remarkable for its attractive, striped foliage.
How to Grow and Care for Liriope Plants?
Whether you have dry or wet soil, sunlit or shaded area, liriope plant will grow luxuriantly with less troubles. Once liriope gets acclimatized to the planting soil, caring is quite easy. If you are growing the clump forming liriope, you will need liriope seeds or starter plants in a bulk, but the spreading variety will colonize quickly with less plantlets.
However, in terms of the long term maintenance part, the liriope that forms clumps is less invasive, thus serving as a better performer. Now, let's look into liriope care guidelines.
- The liriope plant is suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 11. Nonetheless, it can be planted in areas below zone 7 with a little more effort. Liriope is commonly planted along the borders of flower beds to create a green background, and pavements to define landscape.
- As a ground-hugging plant, underneath larger shrubs and trees, the creeping liriope is the best choice. Its growth remains undisturbed even in fully shaded areas. So, according to your planting approach, select the correct liriope variety and proceed with the growing steps.
- For planting liriope, loosen the soil or till it is about 6 inches deep. If your garden soil lacks nutrients, consider supplementing a low dose of organic compost. To ensure optimal growth with the least amount of care, the soil should be free of drainage problems.
- A mature liriope clump measures about 12 inches in diameter. To avoid crowdedness later, the ideal liriope plant spacing is 1 foot between the plants. Even though they look scattered in the first few weeks, the plant clumps will fill the site very soon.
- While planting liriope, dig a hole that fits the root ball perfectly. The crown of the starter plant should lie near the soil surface. Then refill soil in the hole and cover the root. Continue planting the remaining plantlets and water thoroughly to soak the top 6 inches of soil.
- General water requirement for liriope cultivar is moderate, meaning you need to keep the soil moist in the initial days of plantation. Afterwards, when the established plants get adapted to dry soil, you can cut down the amount of water provided to them.
- Another aspect of liriope plant care is mulching them with a layer of straw and/or bark pieces. This helps prevent development of weeds and reduces evaporation of soil moisture, thereby conserving water for newly planted liriope.
- If planting soil is fertile, you can skip fertilizing. Otherwise, spray a low dose of all-purpose fertilizer in spring. The violet or white blooms will appear either in summer or autumn in long, spike inflorescence. These flowers fade and form dark blue berries.
- Anthracnose is a common monkey grass problem that concerns many hobbyists. A conservative approach to minimize the risks of this fungal disease is mowing or trimming liriope to 3 inches in height in dormant season (late winter) without damaging the plant crown.
- Transplanting is another section of liriope care instructions. It can be done after 3-4 years of plantation to avoid overgrowth of the clumps. During transplantation, dip up the clumps and separate them into individual plants. Grow them to cover newer sites.
So, wasn't liriope care easy? It is also grown in steep slopes and areas which are prone to soil erosion. The popularity of this flowering plant in land restoration is partly due its hardiness and low care level after plantation. While planting in home gardens, watch for snails and slugs feeding on the thick foliage of liriope plants.