The Variegated Lily Turf is a remarkably tough and easily grown groundcover plant, ideal for those shady spots beneath your trees and shrubs. It has long, thin green leaves, glossy and arching, 12 to 18 inches tall, which spread into clumps about 2 feet across. Each leaf is about 1 inch wide and striped in white, usually with a white stripe along each edge, and one or more stripes along the leaf itself.
The white variegation is most pronounced when grown in sun or light shade, but this reliable plant will grow right into full shade too. The white stripes give a sparkle and brightness to a patch of this plant, making it a top choice. In late summer and fall, stems of blue-violet flowers rise a short distance above the foliage, producing black berries later, which often last through the winter.
We can find lily turf (Liriope muscari) growing wild across China, but also in Japan and Korea. It is neither a lily nor a turf grass, but is actually a distant relative of the vegetable asparagus. It was introduced into southeastern states of America from Japan or China, when those countries were opening up to trade in the 19th century. Since then many varieties have been developed, and ‘Variegata’ is a reliable and long-established variety loved by generations of gardeners.
Growing Variegated Liriope
The Variegated Lily Turf is an ideal plant to cover the ground beneath trees and shrubs. It makes an attractive edging along beds, and it can also be used to plant corners and awkward spots anywhere in the garden. Although it is not a lily, or a grass, the overall effect is grass-like, so it is a good lawn substitute, especially in a smaller garden. However, unlike grass, it should not be used where it is walked on more than very occasionally.
By forming a dense mass of foliage and flowers, the Variegated Lily Turf will stop weeds becoming established, and so it will save you a lot of time in caring for your garden. Falling leaves and debris will be swallowed up by it, and you will have less raking and tidying to do. The only care needed is this – in late winter or early spring, take some shears for a smaller planting, or set your mower on high for a larger area, and cut back the foliage and old flower stems. These can be removed or left as mulch. Soon new foliage will emerge, and your beautiful grassy carpet will be restored. After a few years, add a layer of rich organic mulch after trimming, to restore the lush growth. Plants will flower more prolifically if they are fertilized once or twice a year with a general garden fertilizer.
Uses in Your Garden
The attractive appearance of the Variegated Lily Turf fits well into all kinds of gardens. You can use it in groups in a natural woodland garden, yet it is neat enough to plant under trees and shrubs in a more formal garden. It is also used in modern garden styles, and fits well into Asian-influenced designs too. Whatever your garden, you will have shaded areas that need covering, or sunny spots where you need a low, grass-like plant. To create an area of ground cover, scatter the plants across it, allowing about 12 to 15 inches between each one. Plant randomly, not in stiff rows, unless of course you are creating an edging, where you should space plants out evenly, to avoid gaps.
Variegated Lily Turf is easily grown all the way from the mild areas of zone 6 into zones 9 and 10. It will also often grow in a sheltered spot in zone 5, but there it will lose its foliage in winter, but quickly recover in spring, sending up fresh new leaves. In other zones the foliage is evergreen, so it adds interest to your winter garden, always looking colorful and richly planted.
Lily turf grows well in all kinds of soil, from sand to clay, and it prefers well-drained neutral to acidic soils. It does not grow well in strongly alkaline soil. It is unaffected by heat, humidity and drought and has no significant pests or diseases. Even deer normally leave it alone, so if you are bothered by those pesky animals, your lily turf will almost always be ignored.
Buying Variegated Liriope at The Tree Center
Adding an extra layer to the appearance of your garden, ground cover plants are the perfect finish to your garden design. They make a much richer picture, unlike barren areas of bare earth or mulch. When planting trees and shrubs, their successful growth will soon create shaded areas, and the Variegated Turf Lily that you planted in sun will easily adapt and become a ground cover for those shady areas.
All of our plants are produced by dividing clumps of correctly-named plants into small pieces, and then growing them up into larger clumps. You may find cheaper plants, just called ‘turf lily’, but these will not be this top-quality variety. They may even be a very similar looking but highly invasive plant that will easily become a weed in your garden, and spread into surrounding areas. Avoid cheaper plants and always buy a named form, like this one, or our excellent Royal Purple Turf Lily.
We have a good stock of this plant, from a very reputable grower, but many gardeners use this plant in copious amounts around their gardens, so our stocks will quickly diminish. Order now, and complete your garden design, while our supplies last.