Lilyturf (Liorope muscari) has long been grown as an outdoor bedding plant, where this tough grass-like perennial makes a good ground cover for border gardens and partly shady areas. But its attractive textured foliage, consistent color, and tolerance for neglect also allow it to be used as a potted plant—either as a stand-alone plant or in large mixed containers. It is a sizable plant that is sometimes grown in outdoor pots for the summer months, then moved indoors for winter in colder zones.
Lilyturf is a clump-forming tuberous-rooted plant that features grassy, strap-like leaves and spikes of lavender flowers that appear in late summer. It is native to low-elevation shady mountainous regions in Japan, China, and Taiwan, and is known as a tough plant that accepts a variety of conditions—except soggy soils.
Lilyturf is normally planted in the spring from nursery-grown container plants—nurseries will normally stock it in the spring and early summer months. Given enough light, it will flower during its first year. The clumps spread fairly slowly, making it a low-maintenance potted plant.
|Botanical Name||Liriope muscari|
|Common Name||Lilyturf, big blue lilyturf, border grass|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||12–18 inches tall, 9–12 inches wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to part shade|
|Soil Type||Medium moisture, well-drained soil|
|Soil pH||6.0–7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral)|
|Bloom Time||Late summer|
|Hardiness Zones||5–10 (USDA); grown as a houseplant anywhere|
|Native Area||China, Taiwan, Japan|
Lilyturf is a fairly easy plant to grow successfully indoors when planted in a general-purpose potting mix and given a fair amount of light. While the plant tolerates a fair amount of shade when planted outdoors, make sure lilyturf gets good indirect light when grown indoors.
The pot and soil mix needs to be well-draining; these plants are susceptible to root rot if the roots soak in water. The plant's rhizomatous roots will spread fairly slowly, requiring repotting every three or four years, but lilyturf is a fairly low-maintenance specimen as an indoor plant.
For plants that are grown indoors year-round, flowering may be reduced or entirely absent, but if the plant is moved outdoors to a sunny patio or deck for the warmer months, you can expect the typical late summer bloom period.
LIlyturf prefers the bright light of direct sunlight, but it can also grow in the less-than-perfect light of an indoor room. It will, however, need some bright indirect light to avoid getting limp and shaggy. Potted plants will greatly appreciate being given a sunny outdoor vacation during the summer months. Be aware that the variegated type is less tolerant of full sunlight.
Liriope is not particular as to the soil type. For potted plants, any high-quality potting soil will work well, provided drainage is adequate.
Provide ample and regular moisture throughout the growing season. In the winter, reduce the watering frequency slightly. Liriope is a sub-tropical plant that does slow down in winter, but it does not require a dormant period.
Brown leaf tips usually signify a lack of water.
Temperature and Humidity
Lilyturf has a good tolerance for high temperature and humidity, and indoor plants may struggle a little over the winter if the room is too cold and dry. Regular misting during the dry winter months will prevent brown leaf tips.
Use a high-quality balanced fertilizer beginning in the spring. A small amount of controlled-release fertilizer applied monthly is a good choice, but take care not to overfeed these plants.
In addition to the pure species of lilyturf, L. muscari, there are several cultivars that can be grown:
- 'Big Blue' is a taller form of the plant, growing to about 2 feet tall.
- 'Variegata' is a standard-sized plant with leaves that are lighter green than the species plant, edged with creamy margins.
- 'Majestic' has large lilac flowers and dark foliage.
- 'Christmas Tree' has light lavender flower spikes.
- 'Evergreen Giant' features stiff-texture leaf blades and white flower spikes.
Lilyturf plants are so inexpensive that most people don't bother propagating them. However, if you want to propagate your plants, they can be divided at repotting time. It's best to choose a fairly robust and large clump for division, then repot each clump into its own pot; water and treat it as a mature plant.
How to Grow Lilyturf From Seed
Lilyturf is quite tricky to grow from seed. Growers practice an elaborate routine of harvesting seeds from flower heads, soaking them in warm water, then in a bleach solution, then planting in a potting soil 1/4 inch deep with temperatures very carefully controlled 65 to 70 degree Fahrenheit temperatures for a full 30 days until the seeds germinate. The process is so complicated that most people propagate the plants simply by dividing them.
Potting and Repotting Lilyturf
Grow the plant in moist, well-drained soil, such as quality general-purpose potting mix. The container should provide ample space for the plants and should have drainage holes at the bottom. These are fairly slow-growing plants that will take three years or so to fill the pot, and they do fairly well when slightly rootbound. Repot them every three or four years. When repotting lilyturf, only go up one pot size and always use fresh potting soil.
Common Pests and Diseases
Lilyturf plants grown indoors usually don't suffer from the slugs and snails or the rot problems that can affect outdoor plants. With lilyturf plants grown indoors, the main problem is likely to be brown leaf tips and brown leaf margins. These can be caused by a number of conditions, including too little water or air that is too dry. If your plant starts to develop brown leaf tips, try misting it occasionally and making sure you are watering adequately.