Few things can make a garden bed look better than a repetitive border plant. For this purpose, I want something that grows quickly and is relatively cheap because you’re going to be purchasing lots of them. I also want something that is very hardy, and disease and pest resistant.
The plant that fits this bill in just about every aspect is Lily Turf, or Liriope. I always call it Liriope because it’s just fun to say…
Where I live, zone 8b for plant hardiness purposes, my liriope has been evergreen for the last 2 years. Just a few years ago, we had a few very icy harsh days and I wound up cutting it back to the ground once it turned brown.
It came back the following Spring with a vengeance. Over the years I have always been reluctant to cut things back. I have learned this is almost always a good practice, and especially with grassy type plants.
I don’t know if this is always the case but everything you read on the internet says to “cut it back to the ground in the Spring or Fall”. Well I did this once, and all the grass grew out with a square edge where it was cut back, it just got longer. NOT pretty. Luckily the new growth covered it up mostly and it wasn’t noticeable from the road…
Liriope is made up of a dark green narrow bladed leaf that resembles a lush grass, sometimes called Monkey Grass by the way. There is also a variegated variety.
It blooms in early Summer with a tall purple stem that shoots up out of the mounding dense foliage. Afterwards, the blooms are followed by blue-black berries. It’s also a perennial, so will not need to be replanted every year.
Liriope is extremely tough. It grows equally well in deep shade or full sun. It can endure the extreme heat of a southern garden without showing any signs of stress.
It can handle drought well and I have yet to see any signs of disease in all the years I have grown it.
Liriope as a Ground Cover
Liriope also makes a great ground cover for large areas and does well in many different types of poor soil conditions.
As a ground cover, you can just let it grow as big as you want, and only divide if you think it needs it. It won’t affect its growth or blooms to be overcrowded.
Liriope as a Border plant
Used as a border plant, it can quickly become too large for its purpose and will possibly need to be divided as often as yearly depending on personal preference or as a means to multiply the number of plants you have without spending a bunch of money.
How To Divide Liriope
The first thing I always do is plan ahead.
How much space do I need to cover?
Am I making a border or ground cover?
How far apart will they be? About 12 inches is the closest you’ll want them in my opinion.
How much can I divide my present plants without making them look too small?
This may also involve a little bed prep which is always the toughest job in gardening.
Water It Well
Another thing that I feel is important is to plan far enough ahead where you can give it a good soaking to make sure the plant is hydrated and happy before you divide it. I do this for most any plant I am about to cut for propagation.
Digging Up Your Liriope
The next thing to do is to dig up your plant. Liriope roots are shallow but very wide and dense. They can sometimes stretch out as far as the growth of the leaves but will usually stay in a dense bunch.
Just give yourself enough room around the plant to dig and cause as little damage to the roots as possible. They are pretty tough though and can really take some damage.
Separating Your Clumps
When I am dividing, I like to lay them out on an old potting soil bag or something to catch the dirt so you don’t make a mess in your yard or wherever you are working.
Next, just decide how big you want your clumps to be. Your size depends on how soon you want to divide again or how big a space you need to cover.
All you need to do is make sure there is a piece of the root “crown” in the resulting split.
This can be accomplished by gently pulling the root ball apart, resulting in many divisions if needed.
The easiest way to just cut them is with a shovel. Simply slide it into the root ball like you’re cutting an onion. There’s nothing to it. I have done it for years and always had great results.
When replanting your division, be sure to not cover up the crown of the root.
Gently water them in around the base if possible. If it remains wet, it can cause what is known as “root rot”.
This disease will cause your leaves to start turning yellow and it will eventually affect the entire plant and can possibly spread to other plants.
That’s about it for dividing your liriope and filling any bare areas or creating a beautiful border for your garden beds with a low maintenance, disease resistant, drought resistant, heat tolerant plant!