Big Blue LiriopeLiriope muscari 'Big Blue'
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Liriope muscari 'Big Blue'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
The Big Blue LilyTurf, or Liriope, is a grass-like perennial ground cover plant that forms dense clumps of slender, strap-like dark green leaves, reaching around 18 inches tall. In late summer or early fall flower spikes rise a little above the leaves, with lavender-blue flowers all along them. These are often followed by black berries that persist through winter. This tough plant is the best ground cover there is for dry shade, and it grows just as well in full sun. Give your shrub beds an added dimension with this weed-choking ground cover.
The Big Blue Liriope grows from zone 5 to 10, and it is fully evergreen in zones 7 to 10. It tolerates full sun, partial shade and full shade equally well, thriving even in the most difficult spots. It grows well in most soils, and once established it is drought tolerant and reliable. Free of pests and diseases, deer tend to avoid it too.
It is good to build your garden around shrubs and trees. Most of them are low-maintenance and you can enjoy a great garden with just a little effort. But the areas beneath your plants can look bare and open, both when they are young and also when they grow taller, and the lower branches have been removed. You can enrich the look of your garden, and add a whole extra dimension to your layout, by using effective ground cover plants. Their foliage and flowers keep your beds attractive, and they fill in the gaps that naturally develop as shrubs mature. Planted below shrubs they turn ordinary into exciting. We don’t want to add work, though, so they should be easy-care and trouble-free. As well they need to be able to cope with shade and dryness, as the more mature your garden, the more shade there will be.
Nature has helped out, and provided gardeners with a groundcover that is excellent even in dry shade – lilyturf, or Liriope. This tufted, grass-like plant is decorated with thin spikes of flowers in late summer, when other plants have often finished blooming. Creating a dense carpet in a few years, the best of the green-leaf liriope plants is undoubtedly the Big Blue Liriope, a larger and extra-sturdy selection that is incredibly useful in every garden. The blooms are lavender-blue, and it grows just as well in full sun as it does in full shade.
The Big Blue Liriope is an evergreen clump of strap-like leaves up to an inch wide, that are smooth, glossy, and a rich dark green. The rise upwards in clumps, arching over gracefully. They are typically 12 to 18 inches tall, but this vigorous variety can reach 24 inches once it is well established. The plant expands by sending new shoots up nearby. It is not invasive, and doesn’t spread far, but it does fill in the spaces until it forms a dense, weed-proof carpet. You can detach pieces and plant them in other parts of your garden. The new leaves emerge in late winter or early spring, lighter green and fresh to begin with, turning darker and arching over as they mature. In late summer or early fall flower spikes grow up among the leaves, standing a few inches taller than them. These are studded all along their length with small lavender-blue flowers, and they make a lovely display at an otherwise quiet time of year. If you have shrubs or trees above them with fall leaves, the dark green and blue really makes those fall colors ‘pop’. After flowering the stems often develop black berries along them, which last all winter, adding another dimension of interest.
Wherever you have bare ground beneath shrubs and trees, in sun, partial shade or full shade, there you can grow this incredibly useful plant. Plant it to fill blank spaces, or plant it all along the edge of a bed, as a border beside grass or hard pathways. Use it to fill narrow gaps between walls and paving. Enrich woodland areas by planting it beneath trees. This really is the ‘universal ground cover’ that fits in anywhere, in any style of garden, and adds so much for so little work. It can also be used in planters beneath trees or shrubs to make them look more complete, without going to all the work and trouble of planting annual flowers and bulbs. For planting in groups, space the plants up to 12 inches apart, and you will soon have a solid covering.
The Big Blue Liriope is completely hardy and evergreen in zones 7 to 10. It grows in sheltered spots in zone 6, and even in zone 5, although in those regions the foliage will often die over the winter, to be restored by new growth in spring.
This amazing plant grows just as well in full sun as it does in dark, dry shade – it is indestructible. It will grow in any well-drained soil, with a slight preference for acid soils, but this is of little practical consequence. Some soil enrichment before planting is useful in getting it established quickly, but once it has filled in an area nothing more is needed.
The Big Blue Liriope needs very little care, but there are a few basic things that will keep it always looking perfect. Once you have figured out when the new shoots appear in your area – it can be anytime between late winter and mid-spring – then plan to cut it down a week or two before. Use shears, a trimmer or a lawn mower, depending on how much area there is. This will remove the older leaves that often turn yellow after the new ones emerge, and they can be difficult to remove. Don’t cut once you see new growth, or you will cut the ends of the new leaves and spoil the look for the whole season. This is the only care needed, and even this can be ignored if you don’t mind a little untidiness for a few weeks. Also, leaves from bushes will fall among the upright foliage, saving you some raking. Pests and diseases seem to never bother this plant, and deer generally leave it alone.
Liriope is a group of similar-looking herbaceous perennial plants that grow across Asia. There are just a few species, and liriope, Liriope muscari, is the most important for gardens. It grows wild through most of China, as well as in Japan and Korea, on the forest floor. There are several varieties available, and the one called ‘Big Blue’ is widely considered to be the best of all the green-leaf forms. It is like the wild plant, but stronger, a little taller, and able to develop a dense ground cover quickly.
Ground cover plants are always in big demand, because knowing gardeners use them prolifically. Lily turf is so universally admired that these plants never stay in stock for long, so order your Big Blues right away.
Given its versatility, the Big Blue Liriope can be paired with a variety of plants. In full sun, it can be paired with drought-tolerant plants like Sedum or Russian Sage. In partial shade, it can be paired with Hostas or Ferns. In full shade, it can be paired with other shade-loving plants like Astilbe or Bleeding Heart. The dark green leaves and lavender-blue flowers of the Big Blue Liriope can provide a nice contrast to these plants. Furthermore, since it forms a dense, weed-proof carpet, it can help suppress weeds around these companion plants.
Yes, Big Blue Liriope can be used as a lawn substitute. Its ability to form a dense, weed-proof carpet makes it an excellent ground cover. It can tolerate a range of light conditions from full sun to full shade, and it is drought-tolerant once established. Furthermore, it is low-maintenance and remains evergreen in zones 7 to 10, providing year-round interest. However, it is not suitable for areas with heavy foot traffic as it does not recover well from being trampled.
Big Blue Liriope can be propagated by division. In early spring or fall, dig up a clump of the plant and carefully separate it into smaller pieces, each with a few shoots and roots. These pieces can then be replanted in other parts of your garden. Make sure to water them well after planting and keep the soil moist until they are established.
One of the advantages of Big Blue Liriope is that it is generally free of pests and diseases. However, like any plant, it can occasionally be affected by problems. Watch out for signs of common issues like leaf spot, crown rot, or anthracnose. If you notice any of these, treat with a suitable fungicide. Also, while deer tend to avoid it, in areas with heavy deer pressure, they may still nibble on it, so consider using a deer repellent if necessary.
Yes, Big Blue Liriope can be grown in containers. Its versatility and low-maintenance nature make it a good choice for container gardening. It can provide a nice, dense ground cover in the container, and its dark green leaves and lavender-blue flowers can add a touch of color. Just make sure to use a well-draining potting mix and water it regularly until it is established. After that, it is quite drought-tolerant.
While Big Blue Liriope is drought-tolerant once established, it will need regular watering during its first growing season to help it establish a deep, extensive root system. After that, it can usually manage with whatever rainfall it gets, but it will appreciate occasional deep watering during prolonged dry spells. If you notice the leaves turning brown or wilting, it may be a sign that the plant needs more water.
Big Blue Liriope doesn’t require much pruning, but you can tidy up the plant and encourage fresh new growth by cutting it back in late winter or early spring, just before the new shoots appear. Use shears, a trimmer, or a lawn mower set to the highest setting to cut the plant back to about 3 inches above the ground. This will remove the older leaves that often turn yellow after the new ones emerge, giving the plant a neater appearance.
Big Blue Liriope is generally considered safe for pets. However, it’s always a good idea to monitor your pets around any new plants, as individual animals may have different reactions. If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior after it has been around the plant, it’s best to contact your vet.
Liriope muscari, the species to which Big Blue Liriope belongs, is native to China, Japan, and Korea, where it grows on the forest floor. The variety ‘Big Blue’ is a selection that is considered to be the best of all the green-leaf forms. It is like the wild plant, but stronger, a little taller, and able to develop a dense ground cover quickly.
Yes, Big Blue Liriope can survive in coastal areas. Its toughness and versatility make it well-suited to the challenging conditions often found in these areas, including sandy soil, salt spray, and strong winds. However, it may need a little extra care in these conditions, such as regular watering until it is established and protection from the harshest winds.