Monday, August 9, 2010

Monkey Grass, Liriope muscari

The best thing about taking plant and garden photos is the chance to see something in a new way  as you pay attention with your camera lens.  I knew liriope  had purple spiky things that got black berries sometimes, but never really thought about the fact that there had to be flowers if there were berries.  I was living with monkey grass waaaay before I ever learned any botany - just goes to show how much we take for granted those "always been there" sorts of things.  Look how pretty the flowers are up close!

Liriope grows in the of shade of my garden, and in nearly every shady southern garden planted in the sixties and seventies.  Liriope muscari was probably one of the plants J. C.  Raulston had in mind when he lamented the limited choices available to landscapers and home owners.  While it is still planted today, you might consider a dwarf or variegated type if you want to be current - and do  J. C. Raultson proud.

Felder Rushing, in Tough Plants for Southern Gardens writes,  "Monkey grass eats magnolia leaves."  Liriope leaves cause the fallen magnolia leaves to turn on edge where they remain hidden until they have turned to compost.  He says it's a handy trick the botanical gardens use, and if you have a magnolia, you can too.    


  1. I love the flowers on liriope. And it works so well as a border plant - it's tough, drought resistant, evergreen, and pretty in the heat of the summer. It's spreading habit is great when getting it to fill in, but then it's a nuisance. But it works well for us to hold all those willow oak tree leaves in place.

  2. Ginny, Elizabeth Lawrence said the problem with ground covers is that at first you can't get them to grow and then you can't them to stop. Liriope is kind of like that. L. muscari is a lot less of a problem than L. spicata, but we have to thin ours every few years. Still, it is a useful plant - for shade especially. I am thinking I'll do what Felder rushing suggested and plant it under a magnolia. The border we have requires too much work!

  3. Hi, Daricia, When I first moved to NC from CA, I was not impressed with Lirope because I saw it EVERYWHERE. But now that I have lived here and gardened here awhile, I much more appreciate its usefulness! :) A couple of years ago, my sister gave me a variegated Lirope that was in her yard (she was moving) and I REALLY enjoy that Lirope. I have plans to divide it yet again this fall and add it to a couple of other places. I love your close up of the flower. So pretty!

  4. i especially appreciate that coming from you, suzy!

    ruth, we have so much liriope we dig and compost a bunch every year! i might like to try a variegated one, though, if it doesn't spread too fast. who can resist variegated plants, especially when they add light to a shady spot.

  5. Liriope is definately guilty of being common and overused, but it is not the plant's fault. I know it flowers, but always seem to forget about it until I see it, and your picture would make anyone grow it for the bloom.