Liriope muscari ‘Monroe White’
Advice on Bamboo and Liriope Hi, I have a typically small back yard at my London Victorian terrace house. I have my heart set on bamboo and would like your advice on the best variety to buy. The width of the area I am looking to plant is just over 4 metres. I don’t want it to spread and I don’t want it to intrude too much in terms of depth and bushiness as it’s a small garden. The one I’m looking at from your website is… Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis – showy yellow-grove bamboo. Is this the right sort of thing? Or any other suggestions? How many plants would I need to buy to fit in the 4m width? Thanks Regards, Gabrielle
Hello Gabrielle, The Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis is a spreading bamboo and has an eventual spread of 6m, so it is not ideal. A better option would be either Fargesia murieliae http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/bamboo/exotics/fargesia-murieliae-/classid.1583/ or Phyllostachys nigra http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/bamboo/exotics/phyllostachys-nigra-/classid.1601/ Both of these are clump-forming, however even these will need to be dug up or ‘managed’ if you want them not to spread, as even the smallest one will get 1.5m cross. If you are trying to create a hedge effect, then I would recommend planting them at 50cm intervals. I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor
Hello, Many thanks for this advice. I think I will go with the Phyllostachys nigra. Now for another question…….. I have 2 garden beds – both are 5 metres long and 50cm deep. One has a width of 30cm and is mostly shade. The other has a width of 15cm and has partial sun. Do you think Liriope would go well in both of these? How far apart do you space Liriope? Regards, Gabrielle
Hello again Gabrielle, Liriope will grow just about anywhere so they will be a good choice – although they will need more water in the sunnier position. As for spacing, I would plant them at around 20cm intervals. I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor
Suggestions for dry shade under a tree Hello, I have a raised bed around the base of a twisted willow about 1.5metres diameter. Currently I have foxgloves, tulips and day lilies growing, which cope, but all flower early in the year. I’ve yet to find anything that will cope with these conditions that will flower later and keep the bed looking interesting. It gets a little morning sun on one side but is otherwise in the shade all day and is very dry. We live in France and that is not helping as we get very little rain in the summer and it is often very hot. Please can you help? Pauline
Eric and Pauline
Plants for under a tree Hi, I am looking for plants that will survive under a tree with soil that is fairly dry, any recommendations? I would quite like to put grasses or hostas there but not sure if there are any varieties which would suit that environment! Regards Sue
Growing plants under Apple Trees? Could you please let me know if there are any plants that can be grown under a small Apple tree. Kind Regards Pamela
Dear Crocus Customer Helpdesk, Could you give me some further advice please. I have identified what I think is Couch Grass amongst a border with lots of other plants. Should I try to get rid of it now and can I isolate it without damaging other precious plants? I can’t lift out all the other plants. I am also planning to make changes to the same border, to limit the number of plants for next Spring. I want to move some now and wonder if it is safe to do that now? I Also, I would like to plant one more fruit tree in what is a small garden in Scotland. I have had problems during two growing seasons with a James Grieve Apple Tree. I believe the apples have scab. I would like to know what other small Apple or Pear Trees would suit the climate here. I would be really grateful for advice on all these matters. I look forward to hearing from you. Kind Regards Pamela
Hello Pamela, If the surrounding plants are very close to the tree, then it may be better to tackle this in the autumn when the plants are dormant and they can be temporarily lifted and moved. Failing that,the only way to tackle it is carefully, cutting it back in manageable chunks bit by bit. Once you get the branches and most of the stem down, then you may want to grind out the stump (you can hire a stump grinder), but this is a hefty bit of kit that will damage the surrounding plants unless they are moved. If you decide to keep the stump, then I would treat the fresh cut with a strong herbicide to make sure it is killed off. I hope this helps, Helen
Hello Pamela, There is an excellent page on the RHS website about how to deal with Couch Grass. As for moving plants, autumn or early spring are the best times to do all this,so wait until the plants have become dormant and then you can start. Just make sure you have the new planting hole ready for them to go straight into – with a sprinkling of bonemeal, as this will help them get settled back in. I’m afraid there are no apples that are going to be better suited to your climate in Scotland as they all need the same conditions. You could also consider Cherries, Pears and Plums as these should be fine in Scotland, but make sure you choose a self fertile variety if you are only planting one. I hope this helps. Helen Plant Doctor
Dear Helen, I also have a Cherry Tree. I believe it is of the Stella variety, which has been in the ground for about 4 years. I need to take it out as it is growing far too large for my small garden. Could you please give me advice on how to cut the tree down, without doing damage to surrounding plants. I plan to replace the Cherry Tree with a small, bush variety of Pear, suitable for our climate, probably a Conference Pear. I look forward to your advice on removal of the Cherry Tree. Many thanks Pamela
Difficult corner… Hi We have a problem area in our front garden. It is a triangular bed with two sides bounded by low walls, which form part of the boundaries to our property. The soil is more alkaline than acid, and has been described as silt, with quite a lot of flinty pebbles. Most of the front garden is lawn, with one rectangular bed below our kitchen window. Unfortunately for us the whole corner area is overshadowed from the south by our next door neighbour’s tree. This is a walnut, which during the summer months cuts off most of the sunlight from the bed and which also throws a rain shadow over it. The tree is protected by a preservation order but it has had the crown lifted and thinned. It is now filling in downwards with flowers, leaves, nuts etc all falling into the triangular bed at regular intervals. It seems to dislike any neighbouring trees – we lost a rather lovely white-flowering prunus from our front lawn two years ago, the crown of which grew just high enough to touch a branch of the walnut. I have read that walnuts exude a toxic substance, to keep rivals at bay! We have one Camellia japonica (about 2.5 metres high) and one Fuchsia magellanica which apparently are reasonably happy in their situation ina corner. We planted a small Pittosporum tenuifolium (which is surviving but not at all happy) and two Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. repens, both of which have died. We also planted six Vinca minor, three of which failed to survive. (The survivors have been moved to another bed). Are there any evergreen shrubs or perennials that might survive in this bed? We do want something that will at least partially block the view of a small block of flats on the opposite side of the road, but are finding it difficult to work out a solution to our present problem. So could you please suggest something that we could successfully plant, other than laurels or aucuba, both of which my wife dislikes. Kind regards Michael 2009-07-19 2009-07-20
What can I plant on a shady grave please? Hi, I just wondered if you could offer me some advice. I want to put some plants around a grave which is right next to a tall hedge and is north facing, so it is quite shady spot for most of the day. The plants must be fairly low maintainace and hardy. Could you offer me a couple of good choices? I was hoping for something with a nice bit of colour on it for the warmer months (when people are more likely to visit). Obviously the size should be small to medium and not very fast growing so they dont take over too much. The soil is fairly well drained not sure of its pH.Thank you very much for your help. John
Help with a Japanese-style corner please? Hello, I was wondering if you could please advise me with a planting related matter. We have a small area in front of our kitchen which has the (grotesque) wheelie bin next to it and then the front door. We thought a minimalist (fuss-free) Japanese scheme would work best. Because it is partially shaded, we decided that three Japanese Acers of different foliages (tall, medium, and small heights) placed in planters would brighten up that corner. However, before doing so, we wanted to know if the three Acers ought to have barriers between them or not and what plants would complement the Japanese look for ground cover, perhaps an ornamental grass. If so which varieties would work best for year round interest? Should we use a multipurpose compost for all these plants? We’d appreciate any other helpful tips you can give. Many thanks, Muna
Hello again Muna, While it is true that Acers will not like disturbance to their roots, I have never heard of them needing a barrier, or that you cannot underplant them. When choosing what to plant it is worthwhile looking at the eventual height and spread of a plant. For example the Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Brilliantissimum’ will eventually grow to 6m tall x 8m wide, the Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ will grow to 5mtall x 6m wide and Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku’ will grow to 6m tall x 5m wide. Therefore, the choice will be dependant on how much room you need to fill, and the effect you want to create. As for the Liriope, I have never heard of one called Aureum, so I am not sure which one you are referring to. Best regards, Helen Plant Doctor
Many thanks for the early reply, Helen as I do need to sort it all out soon. The barrier I was referring to was for the roots as I’ve been told Acers don’t like to be fussed about with, which is why I was thinking Ishouldn’t plant anything else around it in the same planter, other Acers,or even ground cover plants? Also, bearing in mind they’re slow-growing, these are the Acers I’ve ordered. Please would let me know if I’m still mistaken in ordering so many? If there was one or two to keep and complement each other, which one(s) would they be? I probably still have time to change my order. Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Brilliantissimum’, Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’, Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’. Thanks for the Liriope suggestion. Is Aureum (the one without flowers) similar? Regards, Muna
Hello Muna, My initial thought is that 1 Acer would probably be enough as most of them will get quite large as they grow. I am not really sure what you mean by needing barriers (roots or foliage screen?), as I have never heard of this with an Acer. Japanese Acers are beautiful plants and generally colour up well in autumn, but they will need a good amount of sun for this to happen, and then they lose all their leaves in winter, so you are left with bare twigs. Therefore your best option may be to have evergreen groundcover such as Liriope which looks a little like a grass, Pachysandra or Luzula to provide interest until the Acers puts on new growth again in the spring. Helen Plant Doctor
What can I grow under my neighbour’s tree? Hi, We have a large Willow next door, which shades our garden and I can’t seem to get anything to grow underneath it. We would like plants that do not require too much tendering.Can you help? Sam
Hello Sam, I’m afraid the Willow tree will have a big influence on what you will be able to plant as the soil underneath it is likely to be very dry. Dry shade is one of the most inhospitable positions for plants so the best plants will be the toughest. Even these will need to be kept really well fed and watered if they are to survive. Here are your best options – Euonymus fortunei varieties, Alchemilla mollis, Pachysandra terminalis, Bergenias, Iris foetidissima, Lamiums, Liriope muscari and Cotoneaster dammeri.
What will grow in heavy shade? Hoping I can get some hints from you. I have just had some improvements done to a pathway outside my house and want to do it justice by putting some nice plants to cheer it up. It is quite shady and would need to be plants that don’t grow tall or spread wide. Thanks for any help. Ray.
Hello Ray, Very few plants will grow in deep shade, however it may be worthwhile considering the following. Bergenia, Cotoneaster dammeri, Liriope muscari, Pachysandra and Euonymus fortunei. I hope this gives you a few ideas, Helen Plant Doctor
What can I plant in stony, shady soil Hi there, I really like the way inexperienced gardeners like myself can choose plants based on colour, location etc on your website. However I have a long stretch of border that is very shady and the soil is very stony (lots of little stones, not big ones). Would you be able to recommend some plants and shrubs that I could put here? I couldn’t find this criteria on the website. With many thanks, Sally 2009-06-15
Hello Sally, Dry shady areas are very difficult for plants as there will be very little moisture and nutrients in the soil. The best plants will be the toughest, however even these will need to be kept really well fed and watered if they are to survive. Here are some of your best options :- Euonymus fortunei varieties, Alchemilla mollis, Pachysandra terminalis, Bergenias, Iris foetidissima, Lamiums, Liriope muscari and Cotoneaster dammeri. I hope this gives you a few ideas. Helen Plant Doctor
Big blue lilyturf (Liriope muscari), also commonly known as liriope.
Joey Williamson, ©2014 HGIC, Clemson Extension
Liriope, sometimes called lilyturf, is among our best evergreen ground covers. It multiplies rapidly and requires very little care. It grows well throughout South Carolina.
There are two major species grown in our area: big blue lilyturf (Liriope muscari) and creeping lilyturf (L. spicata).
These two evergreen lilyturf species have slightly different growth habits and degrees of hardiness, but both are favorite landscaping plants. Both plants form mounds of grass-like foliage. Usually the foliage is dark green, but in some varieties it is variegated. There are many cultivars available. They differ in leaf color, size and flower color.
Most liriopes grow to a height between 10 and 18 inches. Liriope muscari generally grows in a clump form and will spread to about 12 to 18 inches wide. Liriope spicata spreads rapidly by underground stems (rhizomes) and will cover a wide area. Because of its rapid spread, L. spicata is not suitable for an edging but is excellent for groundcover.
Variegated liriope (Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’) surrounds mailbox post.
Joey Williamson, ©2014 HGIC, Clemson Extension
Lilyturf forms a dense evergreen groundcover with a grass-like appearance. It blooms in July to August with lavender, purple, pink or white flower spikes. Although the flowers are individually small, they are very showy, since each plant has many spikes of blooms. Clusters of bluish black berry-like fruit follow the flowers.
Liriope can be used as a groundcover under trees and shrubs and as a massed planting on slopes and banks. Liriope muscari and its cultivars can also be used as low edging plants along paved areas or in front of foundation plantings.
Liriope is remarkably tough. It will grow in deep shade or full sun, sand or clay. It can endure heat, drought and salt spray, but will not take “wet feet”; it requires moist, well-drained soil. Flowers are produced most freely in a sunny location.
Space the plants about 1 foot apart when planting. As the plants grow and mature, they can be dug and separated – usually this is done every three or four years if you want to increase your plants. Division is rarely necessary for the health of the plant.
You should mow off the foliage of these ground covers in late winter before growth starts with a lawnmower set at the highest possible cutting height. Be sure not to injure the crown of the plant when you mow, and be sure the mower blades are sharpened. It is important to prune liriope before spring growth begins – late January in lower coastal South Carolina and by mid-February in upstate South Carolina.
Anthracnose of liriope (Liriope muscari).
Joey Williamson, ©2014 HGIC, Clemson Extension
Reddish-brown spots that appear along leaf margins and leaf tips are caused by a fungal disease known as anthracnose, which is caused by Colletotrichum species. This disease becomes more prevalent with frequent rainfall or overhead irrigation. It causes a rapid dieback of the foliage. The fungus can remain over-winter in dead foliage.
Mow or trim off last year’s leaves in late winter to a height of about 3 inches and remove as much of the debris as possible. Avoid over-watering or watering late in the day. This may be all that is needed to stop disease.
Leaf and crown rot is caused by Phytophthora palmivora (a water mold pathogen). ‘Evergreen Giant’ is a very common cultivar that is planted in the Southeast, and it is especially susceptible to leaf and crown rot. Initially with leaf and crown rot there will be a yellowing of the interior foliage. As the disease progresses, the basal leaf sections will turn brown, and then this discoloration will move further outward on the foliage. If plants are removed, an inspection of the root system will reveal discolored roots that are sloughing off their outer root tissue.
Liriope is also prone to root rot caused by Phytophthora, Fusarium oxysporum, or Rhizoctonia solani. As the root systems decays, the plants will discolor from the base upwards. Root rot may occur in sites that have poor drainage or are over-watered.
Plants that are showing symptoms should be removed and disposed of immediately before there can be further spread of the disease. Fungicides will not cure the plants of this disease, but only slow its progression. Fungicide treatments will leach from the soil after a few weeks, and then the disease will reappear.
Leaf and crown rot of Liriope muscari ‘Evergreen Giant’.
Joey Williamson, ©2014 HGIC, Clemson Extension
When planting liriope, do not install plants too deeply where the crown of the plant is buried. Keep liriope healthy by watering weekly as needed during summer droughts, don’t over-apply mulch next to plants, and don’t over-fertilize. When fertilizing, scatter fertilizer around plants but don’t let fertilizer granules become wedged between leaves. These things can all stress and predispose liriope plants to become infected with leaf and crown rot. Do not plant liriope in poorly drained sites.
Liriope scale (Pinnaspis caricis) or fern scale (P. aspidistrae) may infest liriope and causes chlorotic spotting (yellow) or reddish spotting of the leaves and foliar necrosis. Cut back the foliage in the late winter and clean up the clippings to significantly help in scale control. Thoroughly wet the infested liriope with a 2% horticultural oil spray (5 tablespoons per gallon of water) after pruning to aid in control.
Species & Cultivars
Big Blue Lilyturf (Liriope muscari): This lilyturf grows in a clump form, making it well-suited for edging. The leaves are a little wider (3/8 to ½-inch wide) and the flowers somewhat bigger than those of creeping lilyturf.
- ‘Majestic’ is a strong grower that grows to 12 to 15 inches tall. It has large, showy, deep lilac flowers and ½-inch wide dark foliage.
- ‘Monroe’s White’ has bright white flowers in large clusters. Matures at 12 to 15 inches tall. This variety does best in shade, and has slightly slower growth.
- ‘Christmas Tree’ has unusual light lavender flower spikes in the form of a Christmas tree. It grows slowly to 12 to 15 inches tall, and prefers shade.
- ‘John Burch’ has a thin border of creamy yellow edging each leaf blade. It will have less variegation if grown in shade. The flowers are lavender and it grows to 12 to 15 inches tall.
- ‘Evergreen Giant’ has stiff-textured leaf blades and white flower spikes. Mature height is 18 to 24 inches tall.
- ‘Densifolia’ is very similar to ‘Evergreen Giant’, grows to 18 to 24 inches tall, and has lavender flowers spikes.
- ‘Gold Band’ is an excellent specimen plant. It has wide leaf blades with a gold edge and lavender flower spikes. Mature height is 12 to 18 inches.
- ‘Samantha’ is a green leafed cultivar with pink flower spikes. Mature height is 12 to 15 inches tall.
- ‘Big Blue’ matures at 12 to 15 inches tall and has less of a tendency to spread by stolons. It has lavender flower spikes.
- ‘Emerald Goddess’ grows to 16 to 20 inches tall and has lavender flower spikes.
- ‘Ingwersen’ has ½-inch wide, dark green foliage and blooms profusely with long full lavender flower spikes. However, it blooms the best in part shade to full shade. It matures at 12 to 15 inches tall.
- ‘Royal Purple’ has deep purple flower spikes and the plants mature at 12 to 15 inches tall.
- ‘Silver midget’ has dark green leaves with irregular variegation and lavender flower spikes. It grows to 10 to 12 inches tall.
- ‘Variegata’ has green foliage with white to yellow variegation on the edges of leaves. The flower spike is lavender and the plant matures at 10 to 15 inches tall.
- ‘Silvery Sunproof’ has leaves striped white and yellow. It withstands sun better than most variegated forms; 12 to 15 inches tall, with purple flowers.
- ‘Webster Wideleaf’ has lavender flower spikes on 12 to 15 inch tall plants. Widest leaf of any cultivar.
Creeping Lilyturf (Liriope spicata): This lilyturf grows 10 to 15 inches tall and spreads indefinitely.
The leaves are more narrow (1/4-inch wide) than on L. muscari. This habit makes it ideal for a lawn replacement or erosion controlling groundcover. It can be invasive in the wrong location. The flowers are smaller and lighter in color.
- ‘Silver Dragon’ has slender, highly variegated green and white leaves and lavender flowers. It reaches about 12 to 16 inches tall. ‘Silver Dragon’ is great for lighting up a dark area. It does not grow as densely as most lilyturf.
- ‘Franklin Mint’ has pale lavender flower spikes above green leave that grow to 12 to 15 inches tall. The leaves are a little wider than those of ‘Silver Dragon’.
Mondo grass (Ophiopogon species) is similar in use and appearance to lilyturf. You can find information on mondo grass in HGIC 1110, Mondo Grass.