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Drought Tolerant Liriope Makes an Outstanding Ground Cover

If you are looking for a tough & drought tolerant ground cover, look no further than Liriope. It is also called Monkey grass or lilyturf and makes a great border plant.  Liriope is a member of a group of flowering grass like perennials which are named after Narcissus plants.

How to grow Liriope - Great ground cover or border plant

Lucky for beginning gardeners, there is not really much to growing liriope.  Plant it and watch it grow has been my experience.

Liriope is Easy to Grow & Makes a Great Border Plant

Some common names for it are lilyturf and monkey grass.  However, Liriope is neither a lily nor a grass.     Four types of the plant grow in North America:  gigantea, muscari, spicate and exiliflora.

This photo from the Land Run Monument in Oklahoma City, shows just how healthy and vibrant liriope plants can be when used in combination with rocks as a ground cover.

Liriope in flower used as a ground cover

It is a very easy plant to grow if you follow these steps:

  • Liriope spreads quickly.  It can grown as a border plant or as a ground cover.  Plant about 12-18″ apart in well tilled soil
  • Add organic matter to each hole.
  • The plant is very forgiving and will tolerate dry conditions quite well.
  • Cut the plants back to the ground in the late fall or winter.  You will get great new growth in the spring if you do this.
  • To propagate monkey grass, lift the plants in late autumn or early spring and pull them apart. Be sure that each portion contains at least one root stock.  This can be done every other year for best results. See tips for transplanting monkey grass here.
  • The plant does flower but it is grown mainly for the ribbon like leaves which come in both plan and variegated varieties.  The flowers range from white to lavender.

Liriope flower

  • The perennial can be grown in semi shade but does best when it gets plenty of sun.
  • The plant is hardy in zones 4 to 10.
  • Keep an eye on your plants and dig up and transplant when necessary. Lilyturf can grow so quickly that they are considered invasive plants if not watched.

Plain liriope

This lirope musicari plant grows in my front border that gets 6 or more hours of sunlight each day.

Variegated liriope

Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’ is my favorite variety. It is such a resilient plant.  I alternate it with my solid colored plant for a neat look.

Liriope in flowerAnother Liriope musicari. This one is growing in my shade garden.Still pretty but not as large as the ones in front that get more sun.


I came across this neat idea for using lirope on a walk recently.  The whole front yard has the plant instead of grass. So easy care!

Liriope as a ground cover

Close up of the ground cover showing some in flower.Liriope as a ground cover

This is the small swath of dirt next to the road planted with this grass like perennial.  Love this idea!Liriope as a ground coverAnother small area near a big tree with monkey grass at the base of it.

Liriope as a ground cover

Take note that liriope can be invasive. If you have more of it in your yard that you would like, see my tips for controlling monkey grass.

Do you have other varieties of liriope that you grow?  Please share your experiences with it.

Pin Liriope growing tips for later

Would you like a reminder of this post for growing liriope? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.Liriope makes a great ground cover

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