Growing Big Blue Lilyturf Plants: How To Care For Liriope Muscari

If you’re planning to grow groundcovers to create contrast and balance in your garden, Liriope muscari is an excellent choice for you!

Liriope muscari, previously known as Liriope gigantea or Liriope exiliflora, is a broadleaf evergreen perennial belonging to the genus Liriope.

Growing Liriope MuscariPin

It’s also a member of the Asparagaceae or Asparagus family, which comprises about 2,500 species and 153 genera of flowering plants, including spider plants, dracaena plants, grape hyacinth, hyacinth, lily of the valley, and tuberose.

The genus Liriope is derived in honor of Liriope, a Greek woodland nymph and mother of Narcissus. Moreover, the specific epithet Muscari was named after the grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides), as they resemble its flowers. 

This clump-forming evergreen perennial is native to East Asia, including China, Japan, and Taiwan. However, it’s considered invasive to North America and a threat to native wildlife.

Liriope muscari is a lovely foliage plant that forms clumps of glossy strap-like leaves with spikes of lilac-purple flowers followed by black berries.

Other common names for this plant include:

  • Big blue lilyturf
  • Border grass
  • Creeping Liriope
  • Lilyturf
  • Giant lilyturf
  • Monkey grass

Liriope muscari is also commonly confused with Liriope spicata, another common species in the genus. However, they are not the same.

You can distinguish the two by growth habit. Liriope muscari spreads and grows in a clump form, while Liriope spicata spreads rapidly through rhizomes or underground stems.

In addition, examples of Liriope Muscari varieties include:

  • Liriope Muscari “Christmas Tree” – spikes of light lavender flower
  • Liriope Muscari “Evergreen Giant” – spikes of white flowers and stiff-texture leaf blades 
  • Liriope Muscari “Majestic” – big lilac flowers and dark foliage
  • Liriope Spicata ‘Silver Dragon’ –  lavender flowers with variegated white and slender green leaves
  • Liriope Spicata ‘Franklin Mint’ –  spikes of lavender flower and leaves similar to ‘Silver Dragon’ but slightly wider

Moreover, this plant has received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Quick Tips On Liriope Muscari

  • Family: Asparagaceae
  • Light: Full sun, full shade, or part shade
  • Temperature: 68° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water: Water regularly during the first growing season
  • Fertilizer: Slow-release shrub-and-tree fertilizer or organic plant food
  • Propagation: Simple division or seeds
  • Common Problems: Anthracnose, leaf and crown rot, aphids, mealybugs

Liriope Muscari Care

Liriope Muscari is a low-maintenance perennial plant and easy to care for once established, making it an excellent landscaper’s mate in gardens.

Here are the steps to consider when growing them in your garden.

How Big Does Big Blue Lilyturf Grow?

Big blue lilyturfs are evergreen herbaceous perennials with clump-forming growth habits.

It typically grows 9″ to 18″ inches tall and 12″ to 24″ inches wide and reaches its ultimate height for 2 to 5 years.

In addition, although this plant resembles an ornamental grass, it’s not true grass.

When Does Big Blue Lilyturf Bloom? Are The Flowers Fragrant?

Big blue lilyturfs are prized for their densely clustered spikes of small violet-purple flowers that appear on 5″ to 13″ inches stems and bloom with a sweet fragrance for weeks in late summer and fall.

This plant features clumps of long-lasting narrow, grass-like dark green leaves that grow up to 24″ inches tall and  ½” inch wide.

The flowers are followed by round shiny single-seeded black berries that often persist into winter. 

What Are The Lighting Needs And Temperature Requirements?

Big Blue Liriope thrives in full sun to partial shade. In full sun, it requires 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, while the plant only needs 2 to 6 hours of direct sunlight for a part of the day in partial shade locations.

It may also tolerate full shade, but the plant’s spread will be slower, and the leaves will become more elongated. In deep shade, the foliage will become leggier too.

Big Blue Lilyturf, especially variegated ones, do better with sun protection and need shelter from drying winds in frost-prone zones. In addition, its foliage will also suffer if grown in full sun with windy spots. 

Moreover, Liriope plants grow well in moderately warm daytime temperatures, ranging from 68° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit. They also are best planted in USDA Hardiness zones 4 to 10.

How And When To Water And Fertilize Big Blue Lilyturf?

Liriope plants require regular watering to keep the soils moist as they establish during the first growing season. They need about an average of 1″ inch of water per week.

However, they are relatively drought-tolerant and can tolerate longer periods between watering days once established. Therefore, they will only need a bit of supplemental irrigation. 

Big Blue Lilyturf doesn’t need much feeding. Still, it will perform better if given some slow-release shrub-and-tree fertilizer, organic fertilizer, or organic plant food applied in the early spring. This will encourage the spread and boost its growth rate.

What Is The Best Soil For Liriope Muscari, And When Should You Transplant?

Liriope Muscari performs best in moderately fertile, moist, well-drained soil and prefers acidic to neutral soils.

However, this plant also tolerates a wide range of soil conditions and does well when slightly root-bound.

If the roots are already growing through the pot’s drainage holes, it’s time to repot. When repotting, use a one-size-up pot and fresh potting soil.

When planting Liriope muscari, it’s best to do it in spring, between March and April. 

Does Liriope Muscari Need Special Grooming Or Maintenance?

Cut back the tops back or foliage to the ground during the late winter before new growth begins to maintain the liriope’s attractive and neat appearance.

To encourage fresh foliage, remove any withered or flower stems after the flowers die.

How To Propagate Big Blue Liriope?

Big Blue Liriope can be propagated via two methods:

  • Simple division
  • Seeds

Both propagation methods can be used to multiply Liriope plants. However, growing one from seed is less favorable due to its elaborate routine and multi-step process.

So, growing from the division is preferred since it’s much easier. It’s important to note that it’s preferred to begin dividing liriope after the third growing season. 

Here are the steps to divide Big Blue Liriope:

  • First, decide whether you’re transplanting into a pot with well-draining potting soil or outdoors.
  • Next, cut through the root ball from a healthy clump using a sterilized knife and divide it with some root into as many sections as you need.
  • Then, transplant the divided parts into a pot larger than the current one or to a different part of the garden.
  • Do not cover the root’s crown with soil. Instead, out the soil around the root and the plant.

Liriope Muscari Pests And Diseases

Liriope Muscari is generally disease and pest-free but may occasionally be a target of aphids and mealybugs. A natural remedy for these pests is applying horticultural oil.

Slugs and snails may also feed on this plant, so keeping the soil free from debris is best to prevent infestation. Spreading diatomaceous earth also helps repel them.

Liriope plants are also prone to two fungal-type diseases, including:

  • Anthracnose
  • Leaf and crown rot

Reddish-brown spots along the leaf tips and margins indicate Anthracnose, which is caused by the Colletotrichum species. 

This disease may be stopped by trimming or mowing last year’s leaves of about 3″ inches or removing debris from the ground.

If the interior foliage starts to become yellow, the plant has leaf and crown rot, a disease caused by Phytophthora palmivora.

The best way to avoid spreading the disease to other plants is to dispose of infected plants.

Uses Of Big Blue Lilyturf

Big Blue Lilyturf plants feature handsome clusters of lilac-purple flowers, making them widely cultivated as landscape plants.

They are excellent decorative plants for landscape use, including in borders along driveways, sidewalks, or trails. They are also ideal for cottage and informal gardens.

These plants are also grown for mass plantings as fillers or popular large ground covers, being easy plants to grow.

Lilyturf can also be used for erosion control on steep slopes once established.

They also make beautiful edging plants for narrow spaces, walks, pool decks, and paths and can be planted under trees or in front of shrubs for a fluffy effect. 

These plants can be used as lawn grass substitutes that receive occasional light foot traffic because of their grass-like appearance.