Monkey Grass (Liriope): Plant Care and Growing Guide

Monkey grass is a grass-like plant that grows slowly and requires little care. It’s ideal for ground cover or turfgrass replacement. Monkey grass is also known as lilyturf and is easy to grow, can survive drought, and may be used to beautify garden settings. Monkeys grass may be used as an edging plant, lawn substitute, shade-liking plant for beneath shrubs, or to prevent soil erosion.

Clumping monkey grass plants and spreading monkey grass plants are the two most frequent varieties of monkey grass in residential gardens. Monkey grass is adaptable, which is one of the reasons it’s so popular. Monkey grass thrives in a variety of soil types and requires little care.

It thrives in full sun to partial shade. Planting and growing monkey grass in your garden is covered in this article. In addition, you’ll discover how to plant this grassy plant in your front or backyard in order to enhance the appearance.

What is Monkey Grass

Monkey grass is a genus of grass-like plants in the Asparagaceae family that requires little upkeep and care. It may enhance any garden’s landscape. This low-lying grassy plant forms clumps or spreads out. Monkey grass has purple or white blooms and long, slender, pointed green leaves.

The purple or black berry-like fruits produced by this spreading, clumping plant are also purple or black. Monkey grass rhizomes spread underground, as do those of many ground-cover plants. Several monkey grass varieties spread quickly through gardens due to their rapid development.

Liriope species are sometimes referred to as monkey grass or lilyturf, which is a little deceptive. The lawn grass family Poaceae isn’t a true type of turfgrass, since monkey grass isn’t in it. Monkey grass (Lilium) isn’t connected to lily plants, either. The grass-like clumps are also known as spider grass because of their resemblance to spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum).

It’s important to pick the proper variety of monkey grass when selecting the best sort for your garden. The creeping variety of monkey grass is Liriope spicata.

While it is suited for ground cover, this plant spreads quickly and can become invasive. The bushy clump-forming monkey grass plant Liriope muscari is the non-spreading variety. A flowering plant species is monkey grass. Late in the summer, the decorative grass-like plant produces tiny blue-violet flower spikes that bloom. The green ribbon-like leafy foliage contrasts nicely with the purple flowers.

Monkey Grass Vs. Mondo Grass

The rivalries between Mundo grass and other grasses are as follows: Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) is seen in the left picture as Monkey Grass. Monkey grass (Liriope) is the correct name for this plant, which is also known as lilyturf. Although the two species of plants appear to be similar, they are actually different.

Monkey grass, for example, is only found in the genus Liriope. The genus Ophiopogon contains the decorative grass Mondo grass. The asparagus family, Asparagaceae, however, contains both plants.

Examine the leaves to determine the difference between monkey grass and mondo grass. Liriope grass (monkey grass) is thicker than Ophiopogon grass (mondo grass). Its blades are broader. Monkey grass is more clump-forming and taller than other types of mondo grasses, as you can see when comparing the two species.

Mondo grass develops between 3 and 12 inches (7.5 and 30 cm) high, while monkey grass develops between 10 and 15 inches (25 to 38 cm).

Benefits of Monkey Grass in Garden Landscapes

Monkey grass is a versatile ground cover for sun or shade, and it’s a excellent foundation or border species. This creeping plant is drought tolerant, requires little care, and thrives in full sun. On slopes to avoid erosion or beneath shrubs, monkey grass is a attractive grass substitute for growing as a border or edging plant.

In the front of the home, monkey grasses are utilized as foundation plantings, blooming flowering evergreen ground cover for full sun and planting between paving.

How to Care for Monkey Grass

Plant monkey grass in well-draining soil and only water when the soil is parched to care for it. To encourage healthy growth, trim the grassy foliage in the winter or early spring. Any weeds around the creeping monkey grass clumps should be pulled by hand during the growing season. Fertilizing monkey grass isn’t required.

Types of Monkey Grass

Lilyturf or monkey grass plants (Liriope) come in two different forms. Depending on the kind of plant you require, you may choose between monkey grass for your front or back yard. The creeping variety is Liriope spicata, while the clumping variety is Liriope muscari. Clumping monkey grass blossoms also stand out from the creeping variety. The two most common types of monkey grass are shown here.

Creeping Monkey Grass (Liriope spicata)

On the left is variegated monkey grass (Liriope spicata ‘Variegata’), and on the right is creeping monkey grass (creeping lilyturf or Liriope spicata). Creeping monkey grass has arching, glossy green leaves that range from 9 to 15 inches (23 to 28 cm) long and 0.25 inch (0.65 cm) broad.

Liriope spicata ‘Variegata’ is a variegated monkey grass cultivar with green and creamy-white striped leaves. Small white to light lavender blooms appear on short flower spikes in the creeping monkey grass.

White to light purple liriope spicata blossoms

Clumping Monkey Grass (Liriope muscari)

Clumping monkey grass (Liriope muscari) is a popular border plant or ground cover, and it can be found on the left and variegated type on the right. Up to 18 inches (45 cm) long, clumping monkey plants have grass-like green blades. Clumping plants grow to be approximately 10″ to 15″ (25 – 38 cm) tall as a result of the arching blade development.

Up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, the grassy blades grow. Green leaves striped with creamy white are seen on the variegated cultivar Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’.

Where to Plant Monkey Grass

Monkey grass may be grown in almost any corner of your garden. The most popular spot to plant monkey grass is in shaded spots where other ornamental grasses and turfgrass cannot grow because monkey grass thrives in the shade. Monkey grass may be sown along fences in constant shade, under shrubs and trees.

Because of its quick-spreading nature, creeping monkey grass (lilyturf) thrives best as an evergreen ground cover. It’s ideal for defending against slope soil erosion because of its thick and sturdy root system.

This Liriope variety spreads quickly over a large area. Paths, driveways, and flower bed borders can all be made with clumping monkey grass plants (Liriope muscari). In shaded or sunny places, you can also grow this species as a perennial ground cover. Here are some suggestions for where to grow monkey grass.

Grow Monkey Grass as a Border Plant and Grass Edging

To create fluffy, evergreen edging, plant monkey grass (Liriope muscari) around beds and paths. To allow the clumps of grass to grow and spread, space each tuft of monkey grass plant 10 inches (25 cm) apart. To create a flowering bushy border, you can also plant clumps of monkey grass along sidewalks, driveways, or garden paths.

Plant Monkey Grass as a Ground Cover

Perfect flowering ground cover plants for both kinds of monkey grass are available. Plants that can be used to cover exposed soil in constant shadow. Even in bright circumstances, clumping or creeping grasses flourish. The plants create beautiful pink, purple, or white flowers when in bloom, which are perfect for your summer garden.

Growing Monkey Grass in Containers

Monkey grasses may be cultivated in pots with ease. balconies, patios, decks, or front door plantings all benefit from potted monkey grass plants. Only water when the soil is mostly dry, as with plant monkey grass in well-draining potting soil. Late winter or early spring, if necessary, trim the spiky-looking foliage.

How to Plant Monkey Grass

Soil that drains well and contains a lot of organic matter is ideal for plant monkey grass. Plant the monkey grass tufts by placing small holes between 6 inches and 10 inches (15 cm) apart. To retain the soil moist while the roots develop, water frequently. Only water monkey grass will survive a long period of drought once it has been established. For planting monkey grass, here are some more useful tips:

  • USDA zones 5 through 10 are ideal for monkey grass.
  • In sandy, loamy, or well-draining clay soil, plant monkey grass.
  • Lilyturf plants favor acidic soil that is mildly alkaline.
  • The most effective way to grow rhizome roots is to avoid them from sitting in wet soil.
  • In shaded spots, monkey grass leaf color darkens more than in full sun

How to Propagate Monkey Grass

Monkey grass can be propagated in the easiest way possible: by root division. Remove as much soil as possible from the grassy blades by digging up tufts of them. A sharp clean knife may be used to split the monkey grass roots into individual plants if they are not divided manually.

Plant the monkey grass 6 inches (15 cm) apart after dividing the roots in your garden. It is vital to keep the soil moist for a few weeks after replanting monkey grass plants to ensure that the roots establish themselves. You may lower the watering frequency and look after your other monkey grass plants once you notice new growth.

Monkey grass can also be grown from seeds. When the plant’s berries turn dark purple or black, you can harvest seeds from the flowers. Monkey grass seeds, on the other hand, take a long time to grow. Harvesting and caring for the lilyturf seeds in order for them to germinate successfully is also difficult.

Trimming Monkey Grass

Late in the winter or early in the spring, trim monkey grass. Old foliage is removed and new, healthy-looking growth is encouraged by cutting back monkey grass. To shorten the blades, use your lawnmower on its highest setting. Trim the back of the leaves to 3″ or 4″ (7.5-10 cm) high using a trimmer or garden shears. To keep monkey grass in its best condition, it’s usually a good idea to trim it. Older grass blades lose their verdant green appearance as they age and become brown.

Monkey grass is a tough grass that tolerates extensive pruning. Nevertheless, when mowing the plant, you must avoid injuring the crown in order for it to look its best.

How to Water Monkey Grass

When it comes to establishing monkey grass, it isn’t necessary to water it much. Even in warm summer climates, the plant survives on little water. If there isn’t any rain, you’ll have to water the plant every week. Before watering, always make sure the top layer of the earth is dry.

After planting new tufts of monkey grass, you’ll need to water your plant regularly. The roots of moist soil spread quickly, allowing them to establish themselves. You may water the clumps of new grass growth at the same rate as other monkey grasses when you observe them.

Problems Affecting Monkey Grass Growth

The most prevalent issue affecting monkey grass plants is brown blade tips. As leaves age and die off, they often turn brown. A fungal disease issue, on the other hand, may be seen with a lot of brown leaf tips on your grassy plants. Browning monkey grass leaves are most commonly caused by over-watering. Dead, brown blades will be mowed away by early spring mowing monkey grass. You’ll need to take further action if the plant has root rot.

Hold off watering until the soil dries if monkey grass leaves become yellow and have brown tips. If water tends to pool on the ground, you may need to improve drainage by altering the soil. If the soil is waterlogged, root diseases can affect monkey plant species. However, you may need to give the plant a thorough watering if the soil is dry.

In that case, water every morning to allow for any excess moisture to escape throughout the day. Before watering the soil, wait a week or two to allow it to dry up once more. The plant will be able to recover and dry out its roots with this watering technique. You’ll need to dig up the monkey grass plant and throw it in the trash if it doesn’t recover after a few days.

How to Control or Get Rid of Monkey Grass

Digging up monkey grass is the best way to eliminate it permanently. To avoid regrowth and keep it at bay for good, you should also eliminate as many of the surrounding roots as feasible. Although monkey grass is a lovely grass for garden landscapes, it may become invasive.

It’s a good idea to cover the area with landscape fabric after removing clumps. Sunlight cannot reach the earth if it is not allowed to. This helps avoid new, unwanted growth. Straggling roots have a tendency to sprout and grow, so diligence is required.

Is Monkey Grass Poisonous?

Cats, dogs, and other pets are not poisoned by Lilyturf or monkey grass. On their non-toxic garden plants list, the ASPCA includes plants from the family Asparagaceae, such as Liriope muscari. Several pet owners claim that monkey grass makes their animals sick to their stomachs.

Yet, there have been no documented cases of the seeds or grass causing harm to people or animals. After eating monkey grass or mondo grass, the majority of animals get upset stomachs as well.

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