Ground covers are popular Louisiana landscape plants, and the most common around here is liriope.
Industry pros and home gardeners commonly say you should never have to buy new liriope — just get extra plants from your neighbors.
Liriope, along with other ground covers, is a low-growing, attractive, evergreen plant used in place of grass, rocks, pebbles or mulch in areas that might otherwise have sparse vegetation.
You also can use a ground cover to add visual interest by softening architectural features, adding foliage and flower color, height and textural patterns and edging for walks or beds.
It also provides continuity by tying together mature plant specimens with new additions or bridging a garden’s formal and informal features.
Liriope is sold at garden centers as either green or variegated.
Green liriope is usually best suited for sun while variegated liriope is usually best for shade. Don’t confuse liriope with monkey grass.
These are separate plants belonging to different plant genera.
Now is an excellent time to trim back liriope and other ground covers to rejuvenate and refresh them, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill.
Even evergreen ground covers like liriope often get a lot of brown leaves built up in them over time.
By shearing them back within a few inches of the ground, you can stimulate lots of fresh, healthy new growth and get that plant looking good again.
Fertilize liriope annually in the spring with a slow-release landscape fertilize. And after plants are 5-6 years old, thin plantings, especially in border situations, once every three years to maintain vigor.
Liriope is fairly drought tolerant, so be sure not to over-irrigate.
If you have an area that’s gotten too shady and the grass won’t grow or if you have an area where you think ground cover might add a beautiful landscape effect, this is a great time to do that, too, Gill says.
Make sure that you look at the growing conditions. Liriope is good for sun to part shade. If you have deeper shade, think about Japanese ardisia or monkey grass, which is available in a dwarf form.
Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.