Here at the office, we like to joke that it's not a 317Grow garden unless it has liriope! We certainly do use this grassy plant a lot, and with good reason. With clean, tidy foliage and a pleasant surprise of purple flowers in late summer, it thrives in many conditions and matures to be a dense, low-maintenance groundcover suitable for a wide variety of soil conditions.
Liriope is not technically a grass, but it looks like a grass and is valued for its foliage like a grass would be, so it's considered a grass-like perennial. It is actually classified in the same family as asparagus. In warmer climates, liriope is evergreen. Even here in Indiana it remains green into the winter, but it eventually turns brown before the spring unless we have a very mild winter. Liriope will spread gradually through its roots to form a dense turf. The purple flowers in August and September are a bonus feature for this attractive foliage plant. The small purple blossoms eventually give way to glossy black berries that stay on their stalks through the fall.
Common Name: Liriope (sometimes Lilyturf)
Scientific Name: Liriope spicata or Liriope muscari
Notable Varieties: 'Big Blue' (overall improved variety), 'Variegata' (white stripes on edges of leaves), 'Silver Dragon' (white flowers, white stripes on edges of leaves
Light: full to partial sun
Size: 1-2' tall, spreading to fill a space
Soil: will tolerate drought and low fertility soils; does not like soggy soil
Blooms: purple flower spikes about the same height at the foliage in August and September
Other Notes: deer and rabbits don't eat it; keep a border between liriope and a lawn so the grass doesn't grow into the liriope