My Michigan sister called, and asked, “What’s still blooming in your garden?” Actually, a lot. As I looked around there are jasmine, hibiscus, salvia, geraniums, Mexican morning glories, and Lori’s Plant (Liriope) continuing to bloom.
One of the lovely facts of Liriope is it blooms late summer and early Fall. Nice to have these lingering beauties.
Liriope, Asparagaceae, Lilyturf (a.k.a Lori’s Plant), is a hardy herbaceous perennial with narrow, grassy leaves, with white to purple spike flowers. One source stated the Liriope family as Rusaceae. Helpful hint: Liriope is usually pronounced lay-RY-eh-pee; but in the South usually, LY-ro-pee. (being from Alabama this makes total sense). I will focus on the L. muscari and its cousin L. spicata.
The name, Liriope, honors a Greek woodland nymph, the mother of Narcissus. The specific meaning is “spike bearing.” Also, muscari is a descriptor meaning “flowers resembling grape hyacinth.” Huge clues there.
This native Asian plant is special to me for two reasons. First, my daughter-in-law, Lori, started me on the Liriope path by sharing some of her bounty. Hence, my renaming it “Lori’s Plant.” Sometimes, plants aren’t just plants, but a symbolic memory of someone dear. Second, it is my type of plant, because it doesn’t need a lot of attention!
Liriope are drought tolerant (doesn’t like “wet feet” as one source stated), and, in our gardening zone, thrives with filtered light; but, total neglect will result in a brown, pitiful appearance.
Best to propagate Liriope in late fall, or early spring. Another positive is Liriope is fairly disease and pest resistant. Slugs, snails, root rot …
I have Variegata Liriope in containers. Distinctive white veins edge the green elongated leaves, and it looks exquisite. Variegated L. spicata (Silver Dragon) form smaller clumps, 6 to 12 inches high with a comparative size spread than the L. muscari which are normal characteristics between the close cousins.
Next fall I plan to increase the number of Liriope in my flower beds and a few more containers with the Silver Dragon. The variegated species doesn’t die back as early as other types, so I will enjoy this resilient plant longer.
L. spicata, (Creeping Lilyturf) have shorter spike blooms resembling grape hyacinths nestled closer within the leaves. Aptly nicknamed, the Creeping Lilyturf spreads by sending a horizontal runner (stolon), which roots and propagates the plant, making it easier to divide and share with friends! Down side of this spreading, it can become invasive. Yes, L. muscari spreads the same way, but slower.
Liriope muscari (lilyturf or monkey grass) is the most common of the genus with prominent flower spikes shooting above wider, longer leaves. It grows in larger clumps, approximately 1 to 1.5 feet high and about the same size spread.
Liriope make a lovely border plant; rock garden addition; ground cover for empty spaces and under trees; and spectacular in planter combinations. In late winter or early spring cut Liriope to the ground for the new growth.
L. muscari was awarded the British Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. This award is given for, according to Wikipedia, “plants that are excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions; available; of good constitution; essentially stable in form and color; and reasonably resistant to pests and diseases.”
What other recommendations can be made of a plant?
Red Bluff Garden Club Inc. is a member of Cascade District, California Garden Clubs, Inc., and Pacific Region, National Garden Clubs Inc.