Gardening with Variegated Liriope

Gardening with Variegated Liriope

Among many potential plants a gardener should consider in the garden are ground covers. Groundcovers allow you to fill in areas of the garden for a lush seemless scene. One such groundcover that is very low maintenance is liriope and in this post I’m specifically talking about Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’.  There are other varieties of liriope that aren’t as attractive or can be more aggressive like Liriope spicata (which spreads via runners) but variegated liriope is much more tame. It fills in quickly into clumps and depending on how close you plant it can easily cover wherever you need a groundcover.

When comparing the variegated to the non-variegated versions of Liriope muscari I’ve noticed that the variegated does much better when placed in shade. The non-variegated seems to do fine anywhere. The plants in these pictures were divisions I made while remodeling a fence garden at my parent’s home. More than twenty plants easily came from three large clumps in another location of their yard. All you need to divide liriope is a good sharp shovel and a strong back. I always pull away the loose crowns first by hand then divide the more stubborn pieces more aggressively with the shovel blade. Washing the soil away from the roots can also help to loosen the clumps.

Liriope has also been recommended as a lawn replacement/substitute due to its drought tolerance and low maintenance

Here is a picture of the partially finished garden. It was completed later in the year but this picture shows the liriope in the center of the garden underneath the cherry trees and in front of azaleas and a dappled willow. It flowers in the summer and eventually produces berries. Many people recommend mowing liriope in the spring to encourage fresh new growth, around here that’s not usually necessary – the rabbits do that for us!

Your thoughts?
It seems that some people either love liriope for its utilitarian uses or hate it completely. I think if used the right way it can be an asset in the garden, what do you think?


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Dave, I've not used variegated liriope. I have two varieties of non-variegated. I noticed, as I traveled South (to Atlanta, GA) last summer, it was all over. I can see that it would be invasive there.

    Here, it grows slowly… harsh Winters. Also, I've given it boundaries. I really like it, though. This next Fall, I need to plant some early bulbs amongst it. 🙂

  2. I love the Giant Liriope…we use liriope for areas that wash away in our heavy downpours…what about Aztec Grass…?

  3. I have the green type & it's in front of the boxwood hedge. I've wanted to finish that area off better but have not got to it. I would much rather have the variegated for certain areas to better show up against the background plants. Must try harder to find it here.

  4. I don't have liriope in my garden, but I'd like to have some as I think it is attractive. Unfortunately, liriope is so overused in the landscape that it's become a garden cliche, like Stella D'Oro daylily and Knockout rose. These plants are outstanding performers and I like to see them accenting a landscape, but not BEING the landscape.

    1. I totally agree with the comment, "These plants are outstanding performers and I like to see them accenting a landscape, but not BEING the landscape." I have accented my Koi pond with two Liriope muscan variegats's and that's it.

  5. I think both have their places in the garden but you must be MOST careful with spicata-which is on a list for invasiveness in Tennessee (just found out). Nonetheless it has its places in the garden. Love the muscari-all of them!

    I'm at the MG training. Having fun and taking it all in-an early start to gardening-can't wait for it to really warm up though! It's as cold here as in Clarksville!

  6. Shady,

    Bulbs planted among the liriope sounds like a great idea. Bulbs would add more color interest to the area.


    I think that Aztec grass doesn't like our cold winters. It definitely wouldn't like this one! Zones 7-11 (according to Monrovia).


    I definitely like the variegated type better than the plain green. Both have their place though!


    You're right they do get overused, especially in commercial settings. It's kind of a victim of its success. It is so low maintenance that it gets planted anywhere people don't want to maintain. I think a creatively done river of it mixed with other perennial islands could be quite interesting enmass but that's not usually how it is used.


    I won't ever plant that one in the garden. The Liriope muscari would be fine either way but the runners of the spicata are to be feared!

  7. Dear Dave … you have me thinking I need to try out liriope ! This is one I don't have and replacing the front lawn (or as much as I can , husband likes a bit of lawn .. man thing ? haha) .. I also have a thing for Balck Mondo grass and gold creeping Jenny .. the contrast is wild and it kicks up a dull area I think .. but for sure, you have me wanting to try some of this little beauty , thank you !

  8. Before I moved in Florida the house I lived in here in Kentucky had that type planted down the drveway and across the walk. It was very beautiful. I hope to steal the idea and doit here at this house, lol.


  9. I plan to put in some variagated liriope in my shady front yard this year – under the dogwood tree. Glad to hear it's getting some critical acclaim!

  10. Personally, I love the variegated lirope. I had some at my old house, and it didn't grow well due to too much clay. My current house, it's great because the soil is so much better. I like using it as little accents and corner fillers, not so much as ground cover. In my parts, I feel it's underused, so I feel kind of unique in growing it.

  11. I have the regular green lirope that spreads. But I also have some varigated which I like much better. Does the varigated spread like the regular dark green lirope? Any assistance would be appreciated.

    1. The variegated liriope forms clumps and won't spread around aggressively. It's a great ground cover. Especially for hard to mow areas and is pretty tolerant of various soil conditions.

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