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Border Grass: Liriope Spicata

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Picture of Liriope, or lilyturf

Picture of Liriope, or lilyturf, an ornamental grass effective in deer control.

Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

Taxonomy of Border Grass (AKA Lilyturf, Liriope):

Plant taxonomy classifies border grass as Liriope spicata. Other common names for the plant are "monkey grass" and "lilyturf." But since its genus name, Liriope is also often used virtually as a common name for this perennial, below I will simply refer to it by its scientific name.

Plant Type:

Liriope spicata plants are herbaceous to semi-evergreen (depending on location) perennials. They are treated as an ornamental grass, even though they have traditionally been considered a member of the Lily family, as the common name, "lilyturf" suggests (more recently, they have been placed in the Ruscaceae family). In terms of landscaping use, they are employed as a ground cover.

Characteristics of Liriope Spicata:

The blades of Liriope spicata reach, at most, 1' in height. Liriope spicata has a spikey flower, ranging in color from white to lavender. In autumn, it bears a dark berry. It is a deer-resistant plant.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Liriope Spicata:

Liriope spicata can be grown in partial shade, although it doubles as a sun-plant. It profits from water, but as long as you plant Liriope spicata in partial shade, it will tolerate drier conditions. Either way, it needs well-drained soil.

Planting Zones for Liriope Spicata:

Liriope spicata can be grown in zones 4-10.

Plant Care for Liriope Spicata:

Liriope spicata is a vigorous grower (see below). Keep after it if you want to restrict it to one area. Set up barriers to its spread using landscape edging and/or dig it up if it spreads where you don't want it. If you wish to use this plant as a ground cover in multiple area of your landscaping, you can divide and transplant. Spring is listed as the best season for dividing.

Caveat in Growing Liriope Spicata:

Liriope spicata plants spread via rhizomes, and are vigorous growers, to the point of being considered invasive plants.

Uses for Liriope Spicata in Landscape Design:

Like many ground covers, two of the common uses for Liriope spicata are for erosion-prevention and weed control.

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