Liriope

Liriope mauve flowers

A useful group of late flowering, ground cover perennials, for shade and dry areas. Look for cultivars with variegated leaves if you can find them, as these are the most attractive forms for year round interest.

Family: Asparagaceae
Botanical Name: Liriope
Common Names: Big blue lily turf

Foliage: Evergreen, narrow strap-like, arching green leaves. Leaves can also be variegated with gold or yellow, depending on variety.

Flowers: Erect dense spikes of tiny violet-purple, bell-shaped flowers. Often followed by black berries. White flowered forms are also available.

Flowering Period: September to November.

Soil: Moist but well-drained, moderately fertile, soil (clay, sand or loam). Acid or neutral pH. Dislikes chalky soils.

Conditions: Sun or shade. Best in partial shade. Plant in a south, east or west facing aspect. Shelter from cold winds.

Habit: Tufted, clump forming.

Type: Tuberous perennial.

Origin: China, Taiwan, Japan.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

Planting and Growing Liriope

Plant in early to mid spring, in a moist but well-drained sandy loam. Best in partial or full shade but will grow in full sun.

Ideal for the front of the border or ground cover in shaded areas.

Easy to grow, slow spreading and drought tolerant once established.

Taking Care of Liriope

Water well until fully established. Divide every few years to reinvigorate.

Remove faded flower stems in autumn. Cut back the old leaves in early spring and apply a slow-release general fertiliser. You can also apply a liquid feed once the flower buds start to appear in late summer, but do not over-fertilise or the plants will grow lush leaves and few flowers.

Pests and Diseases

The young leaves are susceptible to slug damage.

Propagating Liriope

Can be grown from seed but the easiest method is to lift and divide established clumps in the spring. Replant immediately.

Popular Varieties of Liriope

Most garden cultivars have been bred from the species L. Muscari.

Liriope muscari is the common form. The flowers are usually lavender-blue, mauve or violet but a white form is also available. Also a yellow variegated leaf form. Height and spread to 1ft (30cm) or more. For sale at Crocus. Good cultivars include:

  • The variety alba bears tall spikes of creamy-white blooms. For sale at Gardening Express.
  • For luminous white flowers choose 'monroe White'. Available at Crocus.
  • The variegated form 'variegata' is particularly attractive with gold-striped foliage and lilac purple flowers. For sale at Gardening Express.
  • The unusual form 'Okina' produces striking white emerging foliage that gradually matures to a rich green. For sale at Crocus.

Liriope spicata (Creeping Lily Turf) has narrower leaves. Both mauve and white forms are available. Height and spread to 10in (25cm).