Liriope Spicata (Creeping Lilyturf)

Liriope spicata

The herbaceous perennial Liriope spicata, also known by its common name–creeping lilyturf, is one of the fastest-spreading groundcovers you can buy. Not only is this versatile spreading Liriope drought-tolerant, but it also thrives in sun or shade–and can even tolerate large amounts of moisture.

For filling in large areas quickly, this grass-like perennial is an excellent choice. It spreads by way of tough runners that can sometimes overtake adjacent plants. For this reason Liriope spicata should be planted in areas that are contained or have barriers, such as the right-of-way area between a sidewalk and the street. In other spots this aggressive groundcover demands frequent attention to prevent its rapid spread from encroaching on other plants. If you’re looking for a border plant or a garden groundcover you will be better served with L. spicata’s cousin Liriope muscari. If, on the other hand, you need a fast-growing turf substitute for areas of your property that are not heavily trafficked, L. spicata may be your best bet.

Uses for Liriope spicata

One of the most common uses for this popular lilyturf is erosion control. On steep hillsides this groundcover fills in quickly and establishes strong runners that hold soil in place. Since it is equally at home in sun and shade, Liriope spicata provides coverage and control for any type of slope.

An additional use for this plant is that of weed control. This Liriope covers bare ground quickly to prevent weeds from taking hold, minimizing the time you need to spend weeding.

This plant produces spiky clusters of white or purple flowers in late summer followed by dark blue berries in the autumn. Its evergreen leaves can take on a bronze tone in the winter. The maximum height for Liriope is 15 inches and each plant spreads up to about 12 inches.

Creeping lilyturf


To use Liriope to fill in a large area quickly, divide the rhizomatous plants before the initial planting. They will rapidly spread, at which time you can divide them again. With this process, your Liriope will cover a large expanse in a very short time.

Liriope spicata grows more quickly in sunny conditions, although it also thrives in the shade. It prefers a moist or well-drained soil but tolerates some sogginess as well. The optimal zones for growing this plant include zones 4 thorough 10. L. spicata is also deer-resistant, making it a good choice in areas heavy-populated with deer. Maintenance is fairly minimal, but you will need to monitor its spread to other parts of the yard and give it a trim with a string trimmer or mower each spring.

For gardeners who are seeking an attractive evergreen foliage and a fast-growing groundcover, Liriope spicata fits the bill. Just be prepared to spend some time controlling its spread if you want to prevent your new groundcover from turning invasive.

Liriope Muscari (Border Grass)

liriope muscari

Liriope muscari is a grassy groundcover that is similar to mondo grass in both appearance and function. This groundcover has a number of uses: as a border plant, alongside sidewalks, around trees or as a groundcover in out-of-the-way spots in a backyard. Both Liriope muscari and mondo grass are hardy, deer resistant plants that withstand dry conditions and can grow in both sun and shade. The decision over which to use is a matter of preference, however there are several distinctions that may make one more advantageous than the other for your landscaping needs.

Advantages of Liriope muscari

Liriope is frequently known as lilyturf due to the fact that it is a member of the lily family. Liriope plants are fuller and taller than mondo plants, reaching an average height of 12-18 inches (30-45 cm). They also have a thicker root system.

One distinguishing feature of this groundcover that many gardeners enjoy are the colorful flower spikes that the plant produces. While mondo flowers are typically white or light purple in color, liriope muscari produce spikes of violet or blue flowers that appear each summer. Variegated Liriope varieties also display gold or silvery streaks on their leaves, adding even more color to your yard.

Something to consider when landscaping with these ground cover plants is whether you will be planting in a shady area or in full sun. Both Liriope and mondo are versatile plants which can be grown in either sun or shade, however Liriope typically handles full sun better than mondo grass. Liriope are drought-tolerant and can withstand hot and dry conditions better than most other grasses and groundcovers available today. They do, however, prefer a slightly moist soil and look their best when they receive some water, whether from rain or an occasional watering.

L. Muscari is ideal for zones 6-10. Some have reported success with this plant in zone 5, but it should be protected during periods of extreme cold.

border grass

Muscari Vs. Spicata

The two main varieties of Liriope are Liriope muscari and Liriope spicata. Both species are quite similar but can be differentiated by the size of their flower spike (L. muscari’s spike is taller and more pronounced), and their leaves (muscari’s are longer and wider). Another major difference is that Liriope muscari tends to stay where it is planted while Liriope spicata will spread quickly throughout a wide area. For this reason, the muscari variety is the preferred species for use as a border or in a flower bed. Liriope spicata will work well as a groundcover for a wide area and for erosion control on hillsides.

Liriope can play a role in helping to beautify your yard and garden. Whichever variety you chose you will be pleased with the way they accentuate the features of your property and help bring about a more professionally landscaped look.