Variegated Liriope

Last updated : 21 November 2014

Variegated Liriope (Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’) is one of my all time favorite plants to use as a border around a planting bed or along a sidewalk or even a driveway.  They are colorful, low growing and they flower in mid summer with purple flowers on short spikes about 12″ tall.  Probably closer to 8″ tall.  Unlike hosta, the flower spikes look like they belong to the plant.


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Variegated Liriope

Variegated Liriope

They are super easy to maintain and they are tough as nails!  They like any kind of soil, tolerate wet conditions or drought conditions and they are even somewhat salt tolerant.  I’ve been using them as border plants for years in many of the landscapes that I’ve done.  Over the years I’ve tried all kinds of different border plants.  I’ve landscaped over 500 homes in my earlier life so I have experience trying to find a good border plant.  Variegated Liriope has out performed and out lasted them all.

Variegated Liriope used as a border plant.

Variegated Liriope used as a border plant.

When used as a border you can plant them as close as 12″ and as far apart as 24″.  I often used them at 24″ apart I have been very happy with the result.  They are almost semi evergreen.  They’re not really an evergreen, but the foliage isn’t harshly affected by a frost or a freeze.  The foliage actually looks okay throughout most of the winter.  Then come spring the old growth starts to die back and new growth emerges from the crown.


Variegated Liriope

Variegated Liriope

To maintain them all I do is go out in late fall or early spring, pull all the top foliage into a “pony tail” and clip it off right above the crown.  Then all you have left is a little stump of a thing, but as soon as the  new growth appears they look great again for another growing season.

This is also a great plant to grow and sell!
Really good seller.

And that’s what I like about growing and selling plants.  You don’t have to do any selling.  As soon as people find out about a plant that they’d like to have they go looking for it and buy it on sight.  They don’t have to be sold.  When you have small plants for sale, people get excited as soon as they find out what you do.  They want to see what you have for sale!

Variegated Liriope

Variegated Liriope

Check out the Backyard Growers in your area here.

Check it out.  I let my Backyard Growers advertise on this website.  We need more backyard growers across the U.S. and Canada.

Variegated Liriope

Variegated Liriope

 There are People in Your Town that Would Love to Buy Plants Like this from You!


  1. Ronel says

    Mike is right, the Lirope can grow anywhere
    and don’t need much water. I like to plant
    them in groups, make a great show.

  2. Jan says

    Folks, great chat. … There are two (or more) varieties of what are both commonly called monkey grass and what, more widely, is called “border grass” or lily turf.

    And herein lies the difference between what some experience as a polite, contained liriope and others as a spreader: different varieties:

    Liriope muscari (Z6 or Z7-Z10), This is the clumper. There are solid dark green-bladed varieties and variegated forms — some with white, some with cream variegation. ‘Monroe’s White’ has solid, darker green foliage and white instead of lavendar tiny flowers.

    The variegated form Mike mentions is l. muscari. L. muscari tends to be the most commonly sold form, countrywide.

    Lirope spicata (Z4-10): This is the spreader! More cold hardy than l. muscari. Commonly also called just plain lily turf and, yup, monkey grass, and creeping lily turf. Just to keep us confused. Spreads quickly by underground rhizomes, though may not spread so quickly in its northern reaches. Its foliage is narrower and a somewhat darker green when mature than l. muscari. Far as I can see, there’s no variegated form of l. spicata-the-creeper.

    Both varieties seem to prefer acidic soil. Maybe that’s one reason the l. spicata I have hasn’t spread much in the more balanced soil it’s now in, and because of our MA Z6a/b coastal location.

    — Also: there’s a related (not) “grass” — mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus)– very narrow, fine textured foliage and usually tends to be shorter than liriopes. There’s a near-black mondo grass that’s really fascinating to use next to chartreuse foliage, but it’s only marginally winter hardy in Zone 6. And there are varieties of both the green and black mondo grass that are teensy-short, and we wish our lawn grass wouldn’t grow any taller.

    — Also: Love liriope’s 3 to 4 seasons of interest, with the small, pea-sized black or sometimes white berries along the upright flower stems in the fall! … I’m from Savannah, and all my family members back to ought-one had liriope in their yards. Glad when it began appearing in Boston-area some years ago.

  3. Kitty E says

    I call this plant border grass and have it extensively in central Florida. The variagated
    variety doesn’t do as well in winter. I would never cut the tops off as they automatically mulch themselves. I do have a problem with rabbits eating the blades in winter but other than that, their perfect.

  4. jeaniec says

    Fran, can’t get more eastern KY than Ashland and it’s a prolific grower in my yard. Last year was first time I trimmed them back in the fall. Spring growth was beautiful!

  5. Heather says

    We have varigated and solid green liriope. Our green, well established before we moved here, Is NOT valued because it spreads so fast it is invasive! The VL in different part of yard, is not thriving at all.
    I believe there are such different opinions due to everyone’s different conditions.
    I started to appreciate Green Liriope when I found that in the shade, it would grow as an isolated plant and/purple blossom is beautiful against the lush green.
    Some parts of my yard clearly doesn’t have all the nutrients/conditions that cause this plant to grow out of control. MULCH CONTROLS SPREAD TOO. While weeds are thwarted, so is some of the spread of our desired plants: conditions!

    • Anonymous says

      As a rule of thumb I have been told that higher shade tolerance is generally–generally–indicated by a darker green leaf. Following this I would say VL is less-tolerant of deep shade than is the standard.

  6. Donna says

    When is the best time/method to divide them?

    Thanks, Mike, for your emails and advice. Can’t wait to get started with my own backyard nursery! :)

    • Anonymous says

      This can be separated, pulled apart and replanted just about any time. It’s pretty much indestructible.

  7. Sonya says

    I have this plant as well . I really enjoy it . I do have problems with deer in my plants, but they do not eat these. It grows great here in virginia .

  8. Jill Ann says

    I just bought 4 of these plants on clearance at a local greenhouse. I can’t wait to plant them.

  9. Greg says

    I have used variegated liriope for over 30 years in landscaping and on my own property. One of the easiest to care for, hardy, and it’s contrast to a red bark or a darker bark is spectacular. One of my all time favorites also.

  10. Tom Windsor says

    Mike is right. I have used this for years – in fact in some way, manner or form this VL creates a boarder feature throughout my front, back and “behind the fence” areas of my property. Hence it does well in all variations of light, soil and water environment. The only place I have found that it is a very marginal performer is heavy North side shade.

    I divide every couple of years as my long term landscape plan called for this as a boarder plant throughout. Has always been deer and rabbit proof for me.

    Great recommendation.


  11. Grace says

    To Chuck, CArol and Bernice. I have plant that looks like this, but it is called Ribbon Grass, and it has been known to spread if it is not in an isolated spot. I think it may have purple flowers. I don’t let the new plants grow, i just pull them out in spring and it doesn’t seem to be too bad. Google Ribbon Grass and you can read all about it.

  12. SGW says

    Mike — How would this plant do in Colorado? In full sun — which can cook most anything? Plant it in mile-hi full sun or partial shade?

  13. Shirley Bossbach says

    The dark green spreads all over but the variegated does not spread. I have had it for years.

  14. Dinesh says

    hi i m living in an apartment in new delhi and i have a balcony,where i want to develop a garden so i cannot use this plant for border plant as i have only choice to grow plants in pots,please give me some tips to enjoy my hobby

  15. Ellis says

    Thanks Mike for all the wonderful information about plants and how to take care of them. I am really glad I found your website :) I live in zone 4, would this plant lives through the winter in zone 4?

  16. Dolly S. says

    Mike I have this same plant and it is growing in almost all shade. I think those that are saying it spreads have some other plant than monkey grass. I have had mine for about 5 years and it has not spread.

  17. cbattles says

    Since it does look like spider plant, can spider plant babies be planted to grow outside? Guess winter will kill them? Spider plants are tropical plants?

  18. Dudley Louvier says

    Varigated liriope is a great border. It stays where you put it and does not run out of control like the common green “monkey grass (which I HATE.) You can divide the liriope every few years for more clumps.

  19. Dudley Louvier says

    Varigated liriope IS a great border. It will not run out of control like the common
    green monkey grass more. It stays where you put
    it, and you can easily dig and divide it every few years if you want more.

  20. Bernice says

    Hi Mike..thanks for all the helpful info. I have something very similar which DOES spread, and no flowers on it. Do you know what I might have?

  21. Jane says

    I have this plant in shade & in sun in southern Iowa & also grew it in Florida – as you say its a great plant. It doesn’t flower frequently – maybe would if fertilized? You’ve inspired me to divide & use mine for border plantings – thanks for your always great advise! :)

  22. Sammie says

    I’m agreeing with Carol. I love this plant. In Alabama, we call it monkey grass. But it does spread like crazy. Not the same as spider plant. There is also a non-variegated variety.

  23. says

    It may be another version or laripope or monkey grass that we have in our yard, but it is definitely invasive. It shows up in the lawn and perennial beds uninvited and has deep roots so it has to be dug out. Can Mike clarify the different types so people plant to friendly version?

  24. Gina says

    Here in Southern Cali it works great in semi shaded areas and is evergreen. Glad to finally see a plant for my climate =)

  25. clyde holmes says

    mike i am familer with this plant it is not spider grass i have heard it called monkey grass, mike i wish i was able to work outside but cannot, i ordered me some clam shells and i already have me an apple tree i love sprouting buds putting out where the leaves were. i can do some work on my back porch my wife helps me some ,do’nt know what would
    without her. enjoy all your emails keep them coming an have a good summer my wife will not let me out in this heat we are having at this time.good luck an god bless.

  26. Sharon says

    I love these and planted several for borders. However, the rabbits (or something) ate them clear down to the ground. Quite upsetting!So I am hesitant about even trying them again. I have found this year that rabbits are eating things they usually don’t!

  27. Lynn says

    I had miles of dark green liriope in our house in Atlanta. It was a great border and always looked good. I moved. Is it appropriate, ie will it grow well and easily in Los Angeles?

  28. Linda Erman says

    These are lovely shade lovers – drought or “whatever” tolerant plants for borders. I thought they were deer resistant – NO. We live in deeply, shaded woods in So. Indiana and the deer are eating everything – Liriope, hydrangea plants, lilies, yews, and, of course, hostas & English Ivy to the point that over the past 3 years it has not come back! Our yard is a mess.

    LOVE your emails and advice, Mike!

    Linda Erman

  29. PATTY Ising says

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the suggestion. Since deer eat just about everything we plant I put lambs ears down the driveway and
    they are doing fine. Growing big and tall and the deer hate them. Finally, not another salad bar!

  30. Jay says

    Have a question and don’t know where to ask. Was given a rose tree for mother’s day but don’t know how to take care of it for the winter. Live in Massachusetts and it is very cold and snowy here. Does anyone know how to take care of a rose tree?

  31. june says

    I have that in a few places. It’s NOT a take-over plant and has pretty purple spikes. I wish the spikes lasted longer because between them and the nice foliage, it’s a nice plant. Doesn’t even need tons of sunlight.
    Definitely NOT a spider plant either. That’s not tropical in zone 5 but the lirope is.
    And it’s deer resistant.

  32. REBECCA says


  33. Dolly says

    Similar questions as previous:
    1) Is Liriope the spider plant?
    2) Can this plant cope with the winters of the Northeast?

    Thanks Mike for your informative emails, keep them coming you are providing and excellent service.

  34. Erika Buck says

    What a great looking plant. Thanks Mike! Along our driveway we need something tough as nails. We have been looking for options and this looks like the type of plant we are looking for. My husband and I really enjoy your emails. Thanks so much!!!

  35. Sreah Kelley says

    Hi Mike…I have a different type of these, and the deer eat them to the ground. Are these deer-proof? THANKS

    • says

      Sreah, I don’t know, but most deer damage is done during the winter so that kind of pruning would probably be a good thing since I cut mine back anyway.

      • Linda Erman says

        Yes, I agree they’ve eaten mine in the laate fall, early winter. They don’t eat all three of my plants. Only thing I can come up with is that this one plant is in the deer path. Any comments you can pass along??

      • Dolores says

        where we live the deer eat up every thing winter or summer. Just worse in the winter when snow is on. Missouri has a major deer problem.

    • says

      Carol, are we talking about the same plant? I’ve never had a problem with them taking over a bed or spreading much at all. Mondo grass is a different story.

    • Darlene McCluskey says

      We have had three of these in our flower bed for the last eight years and they have never spread out or taken over. They have never been eaten by the deer and do well in our crazy Leavenworth Kansas weather from one extreme to the other. It’s a great plant and I love them!

      • lindsay says

        I also live in Kansas. Do you cut yours back? If so when? I probably have about 100 of these planted in my landacapig and need to know what to do with them.

  36. cbattles says

    Is this the spider plant? Can you clip off the babies from a houseplant and use them outside like this? Thanks, Mike.

    • Karen Smola says

      Nope. It is commonly called “Monkey Grass,” for some reason. It is a perennial; the spider plant is basically a houseplant. The Liriope does not shoot off “babies.” It does, however, have pretty little purple, bead-looking flowers at one point in the growing season. KS

    • alissnow says

      No, it is not a spider plant. Spider plants are truly evergreen and don’t grow to a specific maximum size whereas Liriope are often perennial plants and generally reach a specific maximum size.

    • Cajun Dave says

      I live in South Louisiana and have spider plants in the ground. They die back in winter but in spring they pop back and grow great

    • Jolene says

      I live in CA and I received a spider plant and placed it outside on the ground to water and it rooted. I have 1/2 acre and they grow everywhere now. And it looks just like the pictures. They have tube roots and can be thinned & placed somewhere else. It also grows a long stem and flowers on the end….and when that end touches the ground it starts another plant. I love it because it takes NO care & looks pretty. I planted it around a tree and it looks great and grows well…..even tho the tree absorbs alot of ground water. This is a plant for shade, sun or anywhere you want it.

      • Elizabeth McCapes-Livingston says

        I have also had Spider Plants in central CA for many years and love them. The tubers will increase as well as the “spiders” making new plants when rooted. A very hard freeze will kill the tops but it comes back from the tubers.

  37. Doris Hopper says

    Thanks Mike for all your advice. I enjoy your email so very much. Keep them coming

    God Bless

    • Jeannie Carnes says

      I live in northern KY and they grow beautifully.
      I also use them as my favorite border plant.

    • Karen Smola says

      I have used both the green and variegated in Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama. With the exception of Florida, the soil was mostly red/clay. It is the most durable and versatile plant, and as such, it is the first plant I use when landscaping in a new home. In Oklahoma, it doesn’t snow, it ices; and it can stay frozen on the ground for days.. The Liriope may look dead, but trim it like Mike says (or use the “Weed Eater” trimmer on it), and it will come back thicker and prettier each year. It does spread, and it can become a solid border. You can also divide it and plant new plants.

      • Tom Windsor says

        IMHO I disagree. Monkey grass is similar in growth pattern, flowering characteristics and hardiness. But monkey grass is more dense in leaf folliage and spreads more rapidly. VL is more confined and can be maintained as a separate plant entity before growing together. I have both and have had so for years.

        • Anonymous says

          Monkey grass is shorter in stature, has stiffer blades and tends to be darker green than ever the non-variegated liriope. In my experience, very dark green, actually. And tough as nails!

    • Susie says


      I’m in Ga and monkey grass I seen here everyone call is the dark green incolor and variegated liriope here in central Ga i’ve noticed people call all kinds of plants with a different name.

  38. Chuck says

    Do you have a picture of variegated liriope with flowers on it? I have plants in the yard that look like this but the white parts of the leaves is less pronounced than what you show here. They have purple flowers so maybe with a picture of the flower I can identify them.
    Thank you!

    • says

      Chuck, at this time I don’t have a photo with blooms, but google will turn up all kinds of images. There are a lot of different Liriopes.

    • ezdavie says

      I have planted these now for the past three years. How do we keep the rabbits from eating them in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

      • Mary Hook says

        I was a dog groomer for over 30 years and I would always keep my “dog hair garbage” bagged alone, and not with the other “garbage” because I knew that starting in late winter or early spring I would have clients asking for dog hair to mulch around their veggies. I never tried it myself, but apparently just a whiff of dog kept the bunnies away. However, if you try it under something you want to look nice, I would highly recommend a thin layer of something on top of the fur that doesn’t have much of an aroma of it’s own. Maybe even sand or small pebbles. Because when the dog hair is dry, not only is it unattractive, it’ll blow about in the slightest breeze.

      • Lisa says

        I was having trouble with bunnies eating my grasses and when I cleaned out my spice cupboard I had lots of chili seasoning and paprika. I sprinkled it on and the bunnies stopped eating. It washed off in the rain and I reapplied and after a couple times the bunnies decided to stay away and I don’t have to reapply. It helps to do it after a rain so the spice will stick.

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