Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Variegated Liriope or monkey grass

More commonly known as monkey grass, liriope is a grass-like, flowering plant commonly used to landscape temperate latitudes. Descending from East Asia, its evergreen foliage can spruce up any garden in a matter of weeks. Growing aggressively, some forms can spread quite quickly while preventing erosion, making it a choice groundcover as well.

Liriope is resilient and can grow in conditions that would be unsuitable for many other plants. It can grow in wet or dry areas, it can flourish in the sun or in the shade, and it can hold its own against shallow soil, drought and deer. The plant's thick, mat-like qualities block the growth of weeds while producing its own flowers, making it a beautiful addition to any piece of land.

Varities of Liriope
Liriope Spicata
- Of the two varieties of liriope, spicata spreads the fastest. As its growth rates ensure that it could quickly overtake any garden, the plant is often found in contained areas. It's not uncommon to see this variety growing in the space between a street and a sidewalk or in the median of a road. Others grow it on steep, shady embankments to keep it from damaging other plants. Spicata can grow on minimal amounts of direct sunlight and should be placed in areas with well-drained soil as too much water can cause damage. The plants blades can reach up to one inch in height and often produce a spiky flower that ranges in color from white to lavender.

Liriope Muscari
- While spicata can fill any land it's given, liriope muscari doesn't spread. Known as the "clumping" variety, it tends to stay where it's placed, regardless of the amount of sunlight it receives. While its blades are not any longer than the spicata variety, its flowers tend to bloom purple rather than white. Like spicata, it is both durable and dependable, holding up against many environmental pressures.
Caring for Liriope
*To keep your plants growing strong, water them with a foliar spray twice a year.

*Since they grow so quickly, liriope needs to be sheered back each winter. Not only does this keep the plant healthy, it keeps your garden looking its best.

*To propagate liriopes, lift the plants in late autumn or early spring and tease apart sections to ensure that each portion contains at least some rootstock. Once separated, place the liriopes back into the ground or pot from which they were taken. This process works best when done bi-yearly, as some plants may need an extra season to separate correctly

*Make sure to find a suitable place with plenty of space before planting. Liriope can grow anywhere, but it's not uncommon for the plant to overtake an entire garden in a matter of months if not monitored.
Splitting Liriope
Since liriope can spread so aggressively, many people decide to split their plants when expanding their garden. This is an easy process and often has satisfactory results.

To split liriope:

*You don't have to wait until the fall, as is the case with most other plants. Liriope spreads just as quickly in the spring.

*Dig up each clump individually, being careful to get all the roots.

*Using a sharp shovel, spear each clump in half. If a shovel does not work, try turning the clump upside down and using it as a small saw to cut the halves apart.

*Put each plant in an individual container until you are ready to place them in the ground.

*New plants should be given lots of water and shade if they are expected to reach their full growing potential.
Buying Liriope
Both liriope spicata and liriope muscari can be bought anywhere groundcovers are sold. These can include any local greenhouse or home gardening center, including but not limited to Lowes and Home Depot. The plants can also be bought online, and usually cost the buyer about ten to fifteen dollars a piece. This can be a good deal, depending on the size of your lawn and the number of plants needed.

Uses for Lirope

*An excellent landscaping agent, liriope is often used to line the edges of roads, pathways and sidewalks.

*When used in abundance, certain varieties can provide an excellent and efficient ground cover.

*Liriope spicata can be used as a substitute for Ophiopogon japonicus, an herb used to prevent yin deficiency in Chinese medicine.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Asparagales
Family: Ruscaceae
Genus: Liriope

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