In a backyard or commercial landscape, a liriope groundcover stretching like a carpet below a significant accent tree can create a sense of calm.
The deep, blue-greens of the arching grass-like foliage, and the consistent cross-hatch of the clumping, strappy leaves, is a glorious sight on a hot summer’s day.
Liriope serves landscape designers and architects well in those sunny or part-shaded areas under trees, acting as a neat border or planted between steppers to soften their edges, all the while adding a lushness to the landscape. Their pretty flowers held high above the foliage are an added delight in late summer.
The fact that they are hardy, drought and frost tolerant is an added bonus to the attractive sea of rolling green foliage that they bring to the landscape, when included in a garden’s plant palette.
Liriope is a family of strappy evergreen perennial plants that thrive throughout Australia.
With their rich and abundant royal purple, pink or white flowers and deep green foliage they have become an increasing popular choice for border or mass plantings, specimen plantings, ground cover and even as a lawn alternative.
They are not native to Australia but come from Asia.
Liriopes are incredibly tough and hardy and will grow very happily in a wide range of soil and environmental conditions.
In fact, they’ll grow almost anywhere in Australia. The Liriope and Ophiopogon genera are closely related and there has been some confusion about naming in the past with both plants commonly referred to as Mondo Grass or Lily Turf.
The Ozbreed range of Liriope muscari cultivars is renowned for its wealth of colour and texture as well as its hardiness, disease, drought and frost tolerance.
They’ll cope not only with heat and full sunshine but thrive in shade. Liriope tolerates periodic wet feet and freezing cold as well as hot dry winds and humidity.
Liriope muscari varieties grow well in a range of areas including salty coastal sites and can even be used to protect against soil erosion on the steepest slopes.
Liriopes have distinctive flower stalks that showcase a profusion of richly coloured flowers above the glossy evergreen foliage through summer.
Amethyst (Liriope muscari ‘LIRTP’)
Amethyst grows well all over Australia from hot dry climates to bitterly cold. Its beautiful deep purple flowers sit high above the lush evergreen verdant strappy leaves.
Amethyst thrives in any sunlight exposure from full sun to deep shade and in all soil conditions.
Growing to around 40cm high, Amethyst is perfect for planting en masse, as ground cover, on steep slopes and as a specimen plant.
Isabella (Liriope muscari ‘LIRF’)
Isabella forms a very dense low ground cover and is the ultimate lawn replacement with just one mow required each year.
Isabella produces a fine leaved very compact from that grows to 50cm wide by up to 40cm high. A rich display of delightful pink flowers high up in the foliage adds extra visual beauty throughout January and February.
It’s also perfect for border plantings, rockeries or between paving stones. Isabella is extremely tolerant to drought, frost, cold and heat.
It’s happy in full sun to shade. It’s fast growing and will recover rapidly from damage.
Isabella works well throughout Australia and its ability to thrive in deep shade makes it an ideal alternative particularly for those lawn areas that don’t cope with winter shade.
Just Right (Liriope muscari ‘LIRJ’)
As the name suggests, Just Right is just perfect for all landscaping projects.
Its lush evergreen leaves and uniform height suit a range of uses including mass plantings, specimen plants, along paths and fences.
Just Right will never grow too big to crowd out other features of your garden nor will it be too small to compete with weeds; it’s just the right plant in so many settings.
Just Right grows to an average of 50 by 50 cms and produces sweet light purple flowers. It thrives in full sun to heavy shade, tolerates heat and frost and will be happy in sandy to clay soil types.
Pink Pearl (Liriope muscari ‘VS001’)
Pink Pearl is a low (growing up to 25cm high) strappy leaved plant with a neat form that is ideal for borders, mass plantings or as a groundcover.
Gorgeous pink flowers sitting above the green and cream variegated leaves create a delightful contrast.
Pink Pearl grows throughout Australia and will thrive in full sun to heavy shade as well as cope with frost, drought, high humidity and coastal situations. Pink Pearl suits all soil types.
Silverlawn (Liriope muscari ‘LIRSS’)
Silverlawn (also known as Silverstar) displays a spectacular slivery green and cream foliage that makes it ideal for contrast planting against darker leaved plants.
It’s low growing (up to 35cm high). Its tolerance for full sun, shade, frost, drought and a wide variety of soil types means that it will thrive throughout Australia.
Where to Grow Liriopes?
The compact weeping form and rapid growth rates of Liriopes makes them ideal for groundcover plants especially where competition from weeds may be rigorous.
Normal planting density is around 6-10 plants per m² but consider planting more densely if rampant weed growth is an issue.
Liriopes make a great sight when planted en masse with their stunning flowers and clean weeping foliage. Their dense compact habit also makes them a great choice for borders and between pavers.
Their evergreen foliage makes Liriopes a stunning choice for potted plants as well as in rockeries.
And their ability to cope with part or heavy shade makes them versatile enough to fill those awkward spaces where few other pants will be happy.
Which Liriope is Best as a Lawn Alternative?
Are you tired of mowing your lawn? Are you looking for a lawn alternative that will thrive in 90% shade where most lawns won’t and only needs mowing once a year?
Are you looking for a lawn replacement that produces a stunning carpet of purple flowers?
Isabella is the perfect lawn alternative. It thrives in full sun and heavy shade and grows to no more than 40cm high but if you mow it once a year (in July/ August) it will produce a very tidy 15cm high lush lawn.
Plan on planting 6 plants per square metre for a full coverage lawn in 18-24 months or 12 per square metre for quicker coverage in 9-12 months.
Liriope Grower’s Guide
Liriopes are hardy low maintenance plants that help make your life easy as well as beautiful.
The following are general growing guidelines as your local growing conditions will produce some variation in growth rates and heights.
Liriopes will remain looking at their best all year round if you cut out any discoloured foliage once a year in the winter.
Cutting Liriopes down to the ground encourages vibrant new green shoots to emerge in the spring. You can even use a lawn mower to do this for the smaller varieties.
If pruning is difficult, for example in large areas of massed plantings then you don’t need to worry as new growth will quickly replace any discoloured leaves.
6-10 plants per m². If you want faster ground cover or intend to create a lawn then plant more densely, say 12 plants per m².
Most Liriopes will cope with almost any soil types including sandy and clay soils. Although Liriopes are generally resistant to phytophthora and will cope with wet feet from time to time, they will be happier in free draining soils.
These size guidelines are a general indication only. Liriopes respond well to pruning and this will enable you to maintain a more compact form if you prefer.
In well maintained gardens with good soil conditions sizes may be slightly greater than these figures. Likewise, poor conditions may limit your plants to a smaller size.
When choosing the right Liriope for a particular setting remember the flowers sit high in the foliage.
40 to 50cm high x 40cm to 50cm wide
40cm high x 50cm wide
50cm high x 50cm wide
Approximately 35cm high x 40cm wide
25cm high x 25cm wide
Amethyst flowers sit higher above the foliage than is usual for most Liriope varieties and so you can be confident they’ll make a great showing even from afar.
Large—40 to 50cm high x 40cm to 50cm wide
- Just Right
- Silver Lawn
Small—20cm high x 20 cm wide
- Pink Pearl
- Isabella (when mown once a year)
Do They Spread?
Our range of Liriopes very rarely produces any viable seed so they are unlikely to cause any problems with spreading into areas where they’re not wanted.
Are they poisonous to dogs and cats? Liriopes are considered to display very low levels of toxicity danger to either humans or pets.
However, due to close relationship between Liriopes and other more poisonous plant varieties caution is advised.
Do not eat any berry fruits that might develop, especially in large quantities.
With such a variety of textures, forms, colours and versatility, Liriopes are guaranteed to deliver a spectacular display in any setting.
Check out the Ozbreed Liriope range; there’s one for every garden.
Click Here to read more about Liriopes and what makes them great, or Click on one of the plants abovee to find out more.
Todd was the author of Drought Tolerant Gardening Guide, 2009, ISBN; 978-0-646-50860-3. He has written for the Landscape Contractor and the Landscape Manager magazines for many years.
Todd has managed turf farms and a large production nursery for many years and is the director and owner of Ozbreed Pty Ltd, breeding many native and exotic plants.
Where to Buy
You can buy the Ozbreed range of Liriopes throughout Australia from recognised nurseries as well as online. You can find your most convenient supplier here.
Ozbreed and Liriope – celebrate a wonderful Australian plant and make your garden special.
AMETHYST™ Liriope is a compact Liriope with deep purple flowers | Ozbreed Hardy Exotic Range
JUST RIGHT® is a more uniform evergreen Liriope | Foliage First Range
PINK PEARL™ is a clean variegated Liriope with pink flowers | Emporium Range of Plants