Darrell Blackwelder: Mow your Liriope now for healthy new growth

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 8, 2020

Liriope, monkey grass or border grass is one of the most underutilized landscape plant materials. Mostly used as a border, redefining its use may create a new attitude for home landscapes, especially in shady areas under trees where grass refuses to grow.

Mass plantings complete the landscape and flow easily under dense shady areas. Landscapes also plagued with steep banks should consider mass plantings of liriope. Most species will grow in sun or shade.

Liriope (Liriope muscarii) grows in clumps and spreads very slowly. Liriope spicata spreads rapidly by suckers, covering an area quickly. Both have spike-like flowers in the late summer or early fall. Purple seems to be the most prevalent color, but other flower colors are available.

Green foliage is the most commonly chosen, but variegated varieties of yellow, white or silver are also available. There is even a dark brown to black variety for special interest or as a focal point.

Liriope should be mowed in late spring (now) after danger of a hard freeze, to rejuvenate growth and remove dead or winter damaged foliage. Set the mower at the highest level before mowing.

Liriope grows quickly after the annual mowing with a complete fertilizer to stimulate growth. This plant has few if any insect or disease pests and weeds have a difficult time competing with liriope.

Darrell Blackwelder deblackw@ncsu.edu is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.