August: Liriope

Here at the office, we like to joke that it's not a GoG garden unless it has liriope! We certainly do use this grassy plant a lot, and with good reason. With clean, tidy foliage and a pleasant surprise of purple flowers in late summer, it thrives in many conditions and matures to be a dense, low-maintenance groundcover suitable for a wide variety of soil conditions.

liriope lilyturf

Liriope is not technically a grass, but it looks like a grass and is valued for its foliage like a grass would be, so it's considered a grass-like perennial. It is actually classified in the same family as asparagus. In warmer climates, liriope is evergreen. Even here in Indiana it remains green into the winter, but it eventually turns brown before the spring unless we have a very mild winter. Liriope will spread gradually through its roots to form a dense turf. The purple flowers in August and September are a bonus feature for this attractive foliage plant. The small purple blossoms eventually give way to glossy black berries that stay on their stalks through the fall.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Common Name: Liriope (sometimes Lilyturf)

Scientific Name: Liriope spicata or Liriope muscari

Notable Varieties: 'Big Blue' (overall improved variety), 'Variegata' (white stripes on edges of leaves), 'Silver Dragon' (white flowers, white stripes on edges of leaves

Light: full to partial sun

Size: 1-2' tall, spreading to fill a space

Soil: will tolerate drought and low fertility soils; does not like soggy soil

Blooms: purple flower spikes about the same height at the foliage in August and September

Other Notes: deer and rabbits don't eat it; keep a border between liriope and a lawn so the grass doesn't grow into the liriope

See other plants of the month.


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