These evergreen perennials are native to Asia, particularly China and Japan, and show a surprising amount of diversity in terms of planting conditions and growing preferences.
Monkey grass tends to form dense clumps of grass-like evergreen foliage that can be useful as a ground cover. Monkey grass is also suitable for use in partially shaded locations, such as planting under established trees or shrubs. Although this is a versatile plant, it tends to perform best in moist but poorly drained soil, with a mixture of sun and shade.
Monkey grass is known for its arching, grass-like leaves and small, often purple, flowers that bloom in late summer to early fall. These flowers are then followed by attractive and eye-catching berries. Truly a plant that provides year-round interest in any backyard.
How to grow monkey grass
Monkey grass stands out as a versatile and resilient ornamental plant. By following a few simple rules, you can also successfully grow liriope in your garden.
Things to Consider About Monkey Grass
Monkey grass, or liriope, is a great low-maintenance planting option that has evergreen foliage that resembles grass, but is very effective at filling in the gaps in your garden borders. Whether you have a large or small backyard, monkey grass could be the plant you need to try this year, suitable for lining a garden path, growing under large trees, or simply as an evergreen to add interest to your flower beds.
“Liriope is a tough choice for garden borders or use as a ground cover,” says Mike Murphy, garden expert and owner of You Had Me At Gardening. “It’s also relatively resistant to pests and diseases,” Mike continues, which means that after you plant your monkey grass, you can let it grow without needing much attention. “Once established, liriope is relatively low maintenance,” says Mike.
It is a resilient and hardy evergreen perennial that grows happily in a variety of conditions. In general, you can grow monkey grass anywhere in U.S. hardiness zones 4 – 10, and it tolerates both cold and hot temperatures. It also tolerates drought, even for short periods. Finding a moist, partially shaded location will yield the best growth.
There are different types and cultivars of liriope available for purchase online or at your local garden store. The standard dark green variety is readily available and affordable, like this one Liriobi muscari “Big Blue” From Garden Goods Direct. Some varieties like this Liriobi muscari “variegata” From Garden Goods Direct, it has attractive, variegated foliage as well as eye-catching violet flower spikes.
If you’re looking for something unusual, this is it Liriobi spicata “Jin Rio” From Garden Goods Direct It has dark green foliage with eye-catching silvery white markings. When planted in groups the variety appears almost silvery.
Mike grew up gardening with his parents and grandparents. He enjoys his backyard orchard of dwarf fruit trees, patches of raspberries and blackberries, and raised garden boxes. In addition to his perennials, Mike enjoys planting new fruit and vegetable seeds each spring.
Buy monkey grass plants online
This monkey grass, Liriobi muscari “Big Blue”It produces blue flower spikes that rise above dark green, grass-like foliage. After flowering, the thistles are loaded with clusters of beautiful black berries that often persist into winter.
Top tips for growing monkey grass
- Soil: “Liriope, or monkey grass, thrives in well-drained soil,” says Mike. They prefer moist but well-drained soil, so it’s best to avoid waterlogged or wet spots. While monkey grass can tolerate short periods of drought, applying a layer of mulch or bark chips in the fall can help improve the quality of dry soil. “Mulching around plants helps retain moisture and suppress weeds,” Mike continues.
- a light: This plant is “adaptable to different light conditions,” says Mike. It is “particularly shade tolerant, making it an excellent choice for areas with filtered sunlight or partial shade.” This is why many landscapers and gardeners use monkey grass, as it is very useful in difficult areas such as planting under trees. Interestingly, in addition to being shade tolerant, liriope can also handle full sun, making it a versatile plant for various garden settings.
- quench: After planting, be sure to water your liriope plants regularly, especially during warm periods. This is necessary during the first year after planting. Mike says monkey grass does best with “deep, consistent watering.”
- Fertilize ‘fertilize: “Provide a balanced fertilizer in the spring and summer to support healthy growth,” Mike advises. “Avoid over-fertilizing as this may lead to excessive foliage at the expense of flowers.” Always follow the instructions on the fertilizer label, making sure to dilute the correct amount in water, and repeat only as often as recommended. As Mike says, too much fertilizer can lead to more foliage at the expense of flower spikes.
- pruning: “Liriope is a grass-like plant that benefits from pruning to keep it looking tidy,” says Mike. This is best done in “late winter or early spring before new growth appears.” Although mowing is not recommended, you can use hedge trimmers to trim the foliage to a few inches above the ground. Alternatively, a slower, more cautious and more traditional approach is to use shears, trimming the foliage and leaving small clumps of monkey grass an inch or two above the ground.
Can I grow monkey grass in full shade?
Monkey grass is remarkably versatile, tolerating sun and shade. For best results, it is recommended to plant monkey grass in a partially shaded location, such as under a small tree or shrub, where it can enjoy some sunlight for at least a few hours per day.
This will aid in the development of flowers in the summer. While monkey grass can grow in full shade, it will produce little or no flowers, which is something to remember when planting in full shade.
Monkey grass is a popular and attractive choice for use as a ground cover, under shrubs, or lining walkways in your backyard. Consider using other perennials or evergreens growing under trees to maximize the greenery in your outdoor space.