Friday, February 26, 2010

Liriope & Mondo Grass

LIRIOPE
Grown widely as groundcover and accent plants in the Southern & Mid Atlantic U.S.
They also grow well in much of the northern U.S. and in warmer parts of Canada such as British Columbia & Ontario.
Liriopes are very sturdy, very heat, drought, fire, hail and salt tolerant as well as rarely being bothered by pests and diseases other than the occasional anthracnose or root rot. They grow best with partial shade and moist, acid, light, well drained soils however these very tough plants will grow in sun or shade just about any where. Liripes should be pruned once a year each spring just before new growth begins to remove foliage that was damaged from winter. Large groundcover areas can be mowed with a sharp bladed lawn mover or electric clipper just BEFORE new growth begins in spring to get a fresh look. Generally evergreen; the Liripe can become deciduous in zones 5 & 6 and sometimes 7. Propagation is usually from division done during autumn or early spring.

Liriope minor ( Monkey Grass )
Also called Thin-Leaved Liriope. A perennial, reaching up to 1 x 2 feet, that is similar to Liriope muscari but with very fine, very narrow foliage up to 12 x 0.1 ( rarely over 8 ) inches in size. The foliage is bright green. It is a great lawn substitute for shaded sites and looks great mixes with large foliaged perennials or used for edging. It is native to eastern Russia, eastern China, Korea and most of Japan.
The lilac-blue flower spikes are borne during late summer.
They are followed by glossy black berries, up to 0.2 inches wide.
Hardy zones 6 to 7 ( 5 for seed source from Liaoning Province in China ) in full sun to partial shade.

Liriope muscari ( Lilyturf )
Native to eastern Asia ( from China to Korea & Japan; south to Vietnam to Taiwan ); this plant is usually grown for its foliage and is a very popular groundcover often substituting for lawns in shade and on steep slopes.
This species is generally considered a clumper since even though it is a rhizomatous spreader, it spreads much slower than the similar looking but invasive Liriope spicata. Clumps can reach up to 2 x 3 feet in size.
The narrow linear to lance-shaped leaves are up to 15 x 0.5 inches ( very rarely to 28 inches ) in size. The leathery, evergreen foliage is deep green.
The abundant but small blue-violet flowers, up to 0.3 inches wide, appear on upright spikes, to 5 inches long, sitting on top of an upright stalk to 15 inches high. They appear late summer into early autumn.
They are followed by small, persistent, black berries, up to 0.3 inches wide.
Hardy zones 5a to 8 ( deciduous in zones 5 & 6 ) preferring acidic soil. Drought tolerant.

'Big Blue' ( Big Blue Liriope )
One of the more common cultivars reaching up to 2 x 3 feet in size.
It has large tall spikes of blue flowers





* growing around Japanese Maple

* photo taken on April 11 2010 in Columbia, MD


'Christmas Tree'
flowers are lilac in color

'Curly Twist'

The leaves are twisted and green.
The flowers are deep lilac in color.

'Evergreen Giant'
"Liriope muscari on steroids" - it grows huge as a clump to 3.5 x 3 feet in size. Too tall for most landscapes as a groundcover but still a very cool looking ornamental grass substitute for the shade.

* photo taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC


'Gold Banded'

Foliage is yellow with dark green margins

'Ingwersen'

Foliage is dark green. Flowers are deep violet

'John Burch'
Foliage is yellow striped in the middle. Flowers blue-lavender

'Lilac Beauty'
Lush green foliage. Blooms heavily! Flowers are deep lilac in color.

'Majestic'

Deep green leaves. Blooms heavily with deep lilac flowers on tall stems to 20 inches tall.

* photo taken on Aug 24 2017 @ U.S. Botanic Garden, Wash. DC.


'Monroe White'
Grows large for a Liriope with its wide dark green leaves reaching up to 26 x 1.5 inches in size on ideal sites. Blooms heavily with pure white flowers. This cultivar does have more of a tendency to scorch in full sun in the warmer parts of its range and is better left for sites with partial to full shade.

* photo taken on Aug 20 2011 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD


* photos taken on Aug 25 2011 @ Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore, PA

* photos taken on Sep 3 2017 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.


'Pee Dee Gold Ingot'
Foliage is bright yellow at first, later turning to yellowish-green.
The flowers are light purple.

* photo taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photo taken on May 27 2017 @ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA


'Royal Purple'
Vigorous growing, with lush green leaves, up to 18 x 1 inches in size.
Blooms heavily with bright purple flower spikes to 8 inches in length.

* photo taken on July 17 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Sep 13 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Aug 24 2017 @ U.S. Botanic Garden, Wash. DC.


'Samantha'
To 15 inches in height with green foliage and pink flowers.

'Silvery Sunproof'
Green leaves with edges that are yellow during spring fading to white in summer.

* photo taken on Aug 25 2012 in Harford Co., MD

* photos taken on Sep 30 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Sep 12 2015 in Columbia, MD

'Traebert White'
Reaches up to 2 feet in height with large white flowers.

'Variegata' ( Variegated Liriope )
Clumps reach up to 15 inches tall and 3 feet wide.
The foliage is green with yellow margins turning to creamy white as summer progresses. Looks great contrasting with darker foliage Coralbells. Used as an accent plant in front of landscape borders rather than as a groundcover.
The flowers are violet.








* photo taken on Sep 15 2011 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Aug 23 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC

* photos taken on July 9 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Aug 31 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on June 24 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Aug 21 2017 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Sep 8 2017 in Columbia, MD


'Webster Wideleaf'
Wide dark green foliage to 0.8 inches in width. The flowers are purple on stems to 18 inches in height.

* photos taken on Sep 3 2017 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.


Liriope spicata ( Creeping Lilyturf )
Finer narrower foliage than Liriope muscari and is certainly NOT a "clumper", forming clumps up to 1.5 x 4 feet. Spreading much faster than Liriope muscari; this species should be used only for large scale groundcover purposes only since it is a rapid growing to invasive rhizomatous spreader. Its long rhizomes up to 3 feet long are much too invasive for the perennial border. Creeping Lilyturf makes a great lawn substitute on shaded commercial sites and look outstanding.
The leaves can reach up to 15 x 0.3 ( rarely 24 inches ) in size.
White flowers appear August to September and are followed by berries up to 0.3 inches wide.
Hardy in sun or shade from zones 4 to 10 being deciduous in the colder parts of its range. It should be mowed to ground during early spring to clean out dead foliage before the new growth emerges. Plant 1.5 to 2 feet apart in spring for groundcover use. It tends to grow slowly during the first year when it should be kept moist and well fertilized; usually fully established and growing rapidly on the second year.

* photos taken on Aug 25 2011 @ Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore, PA


* photo taken on Aug 17 2012 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photo taken on Aug 14 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on July 25 2015 @ Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

* photo taken on Jun 2 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on May 17 2017 in Annapolis, MD


'Silver Dragon' ( Variegate Creeping Liriope )
Foliage only up to 0.25 inches wide is vertically streaked silvery white.
Flowers are very pale lavender in color and are followed by small black berries.
Reaching up to 15 inches x 4 + feet unless spreading runners are continuously pulled.



* photo taken on May 21 2012 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photo taken on Aug 23 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC



MONDO GRASS

Closely related to Liriope but with a finer texture; many of the Mondos are excellent lawn substitutes for the shade. Being that Mondo's are evergreen; in many cases the Mondo lawn is better than a real lawn. In zones 5 & 6 if snowfall is sparse; branches from the old christmas makes an excellent protective mulch if loosly piled on top of the Mondo. All Mondo's grow best on fertile, moist, well drained soils. Fertilize in both spring then again in fall with a fertilizer specifically for promotion of root growth. Mondo Grass is tolerant of heat, drought ( in shade ), excessive wind, salt and even fire. They are rarely eaten by deer, insect pests and disease problems are rare.

Ophiopogon chingii
A low groundcover perennial, reaching up to 4 inches in height with fine-textured foliage. The pink flowers are followed by large violet berries during autumn.
Partial shade.

Ophiopogon clarkei
Rare in North America; this green leaf form can grow to 1 x 3 feet in size. Unfortunately less coldhardy than the others growing from zone 7 to 10.

* photo taken on Sep 3 2017 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.



Ophiopogon jaburens ( White Mondo Grass )

Native to seaside woodland in Korea and Japan and reaching up to 40 x 40 inches in size; this is the largest of the Mondo's and is rarely seen in the U.S.
The leaves are long and lush green to 36 x 0.8 inches in size though they can be striped yellow in variegated forms.
The flowers are white to 0.5 inches long in stalks up to 6 inches tall from August to September.
They are followed by blue fruits, up to 0.4 inches wide.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 and grows best in the shade. Easy to grow on any moist well drained soil; this Liriope is a "clumper' at first later becoming a very fast stoloniferous spreader.

* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


'Aureovariegatus'
Leaves are green and striped with yellow

'Caeruleus'
Flowers are violet to purplish-blue

'Vittatus'
The green foliage is narrowly margined and striped with white

* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


Ophiopogon japonicus ( Mondo Grass )
The Mondo Grass is a native to Japan and is hardy zones 5 to 9 ( cannot survive below -29 F ). It is rapid growing and spreads fast by stolons forming a dense carpet to 1 x 3.5 feet. The evergreen leaves, up to 20 x 0.25 inches in size. They are best mowed short in March right before new growth begins.
The lilac-white flowers are borne on short racemes during mid to late summer.
They are followed by blue black berries, up to 0.3 inches wide.

* photos taken on Feb 2009 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC












* photos taken @ U.S. National Arboretum on August 2004



* photo taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.


* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


'Albus'
Almost identical except with pure white flowers.

'Comet'
Rapid growing to 9 inches in height with silvery foliage.

'Kyoto Dwarf'
Very dwarf and very compact, reaching a maximum size of 4 x 8 inches, with deep green foliage. Great for planting in walkways and pathways.

* photos taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photo taken on Jan 2011 @ Deerfield Beech Arboretum, Florida


'Nanum' ( Dwarf Mondo Grass )
A moderately fast growing, dwarf form, reaching up to 6 inches x 1 foot in size, with very dark green foliage. Looks like turf. Great as a groundcover in shady moist soil, it is often used between stepping stones.

* photos taken on Feb 2009 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


* photo taken on March 28 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on May 8 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.


* photo taken on October 15 2010 @ Crownsville, MD

* photo taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photo taken on Sep 3 2017 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.


'Pam Harper'
A very attractive, groundcover perennial, reaching up to 9 inches, with golden-yellow variegated foliage.

'Silver Mist'
Reaches a maximum size of 10 inches x 1.5 feet with showy, narrow, sparkling white and green foliage. Flowers tiny and insignificent. Spreads thru rhizomes

* photo taken on annual Horticultural Society of Maryland Garden Tour


* photo taken on Aug 25 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Gardens, Washington, DC

* photo taken on Nov 1 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Oct 3 2017 in Columbia, MD


'White Dragon'
Foliage to 12 inches long is widely striped with white with some leaves showing little green at all.

Ophiopogon planiscapus
A slow growing, clumping perennial, reaching up to 20 x 24 inches in size, that is native to Japan.
The deep green leaves can be up to 20 x 0.2 inches in size.
The white to purplish pink flowers appear early to mid summer.
They are followed by bright blue berries, up to 0.3 inches wide.
Hardy north to zone 6.

'Ebony Knight' ( Black Mondo Grass )
Reaching up to 12 x 42 inches in size; the Black Mondo is not a fast spreader reaching only as much as 18 inches in spread on the best of sites.
It spreads by thick tuberous stolons to form loose patches.
the Black Mondo has foliage up to 9 to 14 x 0.3 inches ( reports of 20 x 0.3 inches is something I never seen ) that is greenish at first in spring quickly turning to glossy purplish-black. The flowers are pinkish lavender in clusters up to 6 inches tall. Contrasts well with white stone as well as light colored plants especially dwarf golden Hostas, Golden Moneywort, Japanese Painted Fern and Lamiums.
Grows in sun or shade and tolerates temperatures as low as -20 F. In areas of heavy snowfall protecting the roots; this plant may be grown as far north as zone 3.
Can be grown from seed; most of the seedlings will come true with blackish-purple leaves.


* photo taken on Feb 2009 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photos from some of my installs




* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photo taken on Aug 1 2013 in Stratford, Ontario

* photo taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photo taken by Milan Havlis, owner of central Europe's premier plant nursery


'Leucanthus'
flowers are pure white.

9 comments:

  1. Great post! I love liriope and mondo grass! I plan on using dwarf mondo in a front yard patio space...it'll take the place of grass, but I won't need to mow...win/win situation!!

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  2. Ridiculously well done blog about liriope & mondo grass. Appreciate all the pics and info-- I have grown them both successfully in Madison, WI (zone 4b/5a)

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    Replies
    1. gearlandscape, checking in here 5 years later, curious if the mondo is still growing. Do you know of any cold-hardy versions of the dwarf mondo? It looks like a great, useful plant.

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  3. Thank you! Does anybody sell either in Wisconsin or did you have to purchase them somewhere else and bring them back?

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  4. I would recommend against planting either mondo or liriope. The prior owner of my home planted it around trees in my front and back yard and it has invaded about a third of my front and back lawns. I've not found a weed or grass killer yet that will do anything but kill the gass blades for four or five weeks before new dark green blades pop back up through the soil. The root system has these little bulbs or rhizomes that continually spread out and away from the plant itself. I dug up and removed a large area in the back yard only to have it roar back two seasons later. My last resort is to try Image to kill it and if it doesn't work, I'm going to sell my house and find one that is mondo and liriope free.

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  5. Liriope spicata is invasive and should only be used for commercial areas ( ex. freeway embankements ). Liriope muscari and its cultivars are much more suited to the landscape because their rhizomes are short so that it does not run away.
    What is the variety of Mondo if it was Mondo and not the thinner blade Liriope spicata or a cultivar of it. I have never had Mondo go out of control and on some sites wish it had grown faster.

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  6. Really great post and knowledgeable for landscaping.Appreciate all the pics and info.I have grown them successfully in Raiwala, Uttarakhand,India.
    -Sanket D.Damame.
    Horticulturist.

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  7. Randy, have you come across any dwarf liriope cultivars or hardy Ophiopogon cultivars? I'm in Dayton OH (Zone 5/6) and would love to use something of this nature about 4" high. I saw the dwarf mondo in DC recently. What a beautiful little worker-plant!

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