In the Garden:
Variegated liriope glows in dappled shade, or it can handle full sun.
Mowing over bumpy tree roots is not my idea of fun, and I don't like edging my lawn, either. So you can understand my passion for liriope (Liriope muscari or L. spicata), the ideal plant for growing along walkways or as a ground cover beneath large shade trees. Now is a great time to start new plantings. With the help of winter rains, liriope will root quickly and be ready to take off in spring.
The Name Game
You can call liriope monkey grass or lilyturf if you want, but the more important thing is to choose the right variety for your landscape. Liriope is hardy from zones 5 to 9. To cover ground in serious shade, look for creeping selections of L. spicata. This slow spreader is not a fantastic bloomer, but the wandering stolons knit the plants together into a thick mass of slender, dark green leaves.
More upright and colorful, cultivars of L. muscari grow into thick clumps and produce showy blue flower spikes in late summer. They are ideal for edging, and you can choose among varieties with dark green leaves and those with lime green leaves edged with cream. The variegated strains grow especially well in sun, while the green-leafed ones are best for shade.
You can buy new plants of specific varieties or just dig some plants from a gardening friend or neighbor. Use a sharp spade to dig up 6- to 8-inch-wide chunks and place them in a wheelbarrow filled with water. This makes it easy to pull the plants apart. This technique works well with plants purchased in pots, too. Set small clumps of two or three diameter crowns 6 inches apart and mulch between them to discourage weeds.
Don't worry if your new planting looks a little droopy through winter. Once spring comes, new leaves will grow from the crowns.
Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!