Monkey Grass (Lariope) is one of the most amazing perennial plants. The plant is extremely hardy, can resist a variety of extreme weather conditions, and add a dash of color to the garden all year round. Almost nothing can bother Lariope from flourishing, which also makes it one of the easiest decorative plants to grow.
There are several different varieties and shades of lariope from lush green to creamy whites. These plants are one of the best choices if you are looking for a plant that you can look after for a long time, without having to worry about re-growing it.
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Growing Monkey Grass
Monkey Grass, upon reaching maturity, feature thick and lush foliage that can reach a height between 10 and 18 inches. They are perfect for lining walkways and edging beds because of their grass-like appearance. At the same time, the lariope have a prolonged blooming season that extends from summer to late fall. This means it adds color to the garden almost throughout the entire year.
Here are some brief facts about the amazing lariope plant:
- Latin name: Liriope Spicata or L. Muscari
- Other names: Lily grass, turf lily, monkey grass, creeping liriope
- Native to: East and Southeast Asia
- Invasiveness: Can become easily invasive.
- Tenderness: Herbaceous perennial
- Sun: Full Sun or part sun.
- Water: About 1 inch of water every week during first growth. Can go longer after reaching maturity.
- Soil: Well-drained.
- Hardiness zone: Zones 4 through 10
- When to plant: Spring to Fall.
- Spacing: About 1 foot.
- Plant height: 10 to 18”.
- Bloom period: August to September
- Time to maturity: 2 to 3 years.
- Container friendly: Possible to be grown in containers.
- Fertilizer: Light dose of 10-10-10
- Toxicity: Low toxicity.
- Deer resistant: Yes.
- Pest resistant: Yes.
Monkey grass is best grown as ground covers because of their tolerance of droughts as well as unreliable sunlight conditions. Once planted, they hardly require any care. However, gardeners would do well to keep an eye on them since they can easily grow out of hand.
Monkey grass is so durable in nature that they have only one absolutely necessary requirement: well-draining soil. While planting, space them about a foot apart because they need room to grow. Moreover, they do not need you to divide them but you can choose to do so every 3 to 4 years to keep their growth in check.
Lariope needs regular watering during their first season of growth. However, avoid watering them every day because it makes the soil soggy. After they become established, they are considerably resistant to drought and can go quite a long while without water.
Monkey Grass prefers partially shaded locations, but they do just as well in areas receiving full sun. It will even be alive in a completely shady area, although that is not recommended. A heavy shade will make the foliage larger in size, and lariope will spread slower.
The lariope can survive on almost all kinds of soil. The only thing it cannot survive is boggy or wet soil. Also, it does better when the soil is acidic in nature.
Monkey Grass doesn’t need much external feeding. However, you can still give them a dose of 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer for shrubs and trees at the beginning of spring. A cup usually requires about a quarter cup. This can boost the plant’s growth rate and spread.
Another name for lariope is the “creeping lilyturf”. This is a good sign that the plant has an invasive nature. They can spread aggressively when left to their own devices. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia are all states where lariope can be a problem.
Growing Monkey Grass in containers
Choose well-drained and moist soil for the pot in which you want to grow the lariope. Ensure that the container has enough room for the plant to grow over the next 2 to 3 years. This means the container should be at least three inches deeper and longer than the plant’s size. Also, the containers should have quite a few drainage holes. Finally, lariope in containers prefer being slightly rootbound.
Care & tips
Lariope like moderately warm temperatures during the daytime, in a range between 68 and 75 degrees F. It will have higher chances of dying in colder climates. During winter, cover the lariope with a layer of leaves. This will protect it from plant death or stress in wintry climates.
The ornamental lariope need a session of trimming to keep their appearance clean during the end of every winter or the beginning of every spring. After the death of the flowers, remove the stems along with withered foliage.
Similar to indoor plants, lariope are also susceptible to aphids and mealybugs. The best medicine for them is horticultural oil. The plant can also attract snails and slugs. Use diatomaceous earth to keep them away.
As for diseases, lariope can suffer from leaf and crown rot and anthracnose. The symptoms of anthracnose are reddish-brown spots on the margins and tips of leaves. Cut off the infected leaves, and mow the previous year’s leaves to about 3” to deal with it.
The symptoms of leaf and crown rot are yellowing interior foliage. Dispose of the lariope showing these symptoms to stop the disease from spreading to the other plants.
Propagating Monkey Grass
Lariope can be propagated at almost any time in the year. There are two primary methods of propagating them: sowing seeds and plant division.
For plant division: cut through the middle of a root ball using a sterilized knife and divide the lariope into the number of parts needed. Then transplant the parts into prepared soil or containers. However, do not cover the crown of the roots with soil as that can cause crown rot.
For seed sowing: Soak and remove the pulp from the seeds. Then soak it in a mixture of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. Then, plant them about a quarter-inch deep into a fresh pot for seed starters or the ground. Keep the soil consistently moist till germination. Transplant the seedling after it reaches a height of 1”.
Uses for Monkey Grass
Lariope is extremely tough. Thus, they are used as ornamental ground cover beneath trees and along walkways. It can also help in preventing erosion, and controlling weeds.
Lariope are not toxic or harmful to pets or humans. However, if you do happen to ingest any part of it, expect a stomach ache.
The grass-like Lariope are the perfect choice for adorning those parts of the garden where other plants will have a tough time surviving. It has the durability of grass while having the beauty of ornamental plants.