Most gardeners wouldn’t buy liriopes for their flowers. Dainty and delightfully pasted to a totem resemblant spike, they are fairly insignificant and command an attentive eye to take notice of them. Yet, isn’t this one of the joys of gardening – discovering hidden jewels amongst the plethora of flora in our gardens?
For me, it was a spontaneous moment of breathtaking awe. As I spent Saturday afternoon systemically pruning my way around our back yard, I began to tidy around some of our pots. I was disentangling some alyssum from amongst our kalanchoe, which both shared a container with the liriope, when I discovered these beautiful flowers.
I had forgotten that liriopes even flower.
Purchasing them predominantly for their fountainous foliage, I had never even considered that there might be more to these plants than their strappy leaves. Honestly, I was a little surprised to find that it was producing flowers – and not just one spike but multiple emanating from what appeared to be the centre of the plant.
While this discovery was somewhat humbling, I did consider whether this knowledge would have affected my initial purchase decision. Alas, I reasoned that the foliage virtues were far more appealing to me than its blooming prowess.
In essence, liriopes are destined to be noted for their foliage over and above any other feature. And this isn’t such a bad thing. Their common names; Lilyturf or Border Grass advance similar notions – and why not? We need foliage plants in our gardens as much, if not more, than flowering extroverts. They create the backdrop for our art-form like supporting actors help focus the attention on our movie prima donnas.
How to grow and care for liriopes
If you’re looking for a border plant that won’t be exposed to full-sun all day then liriopes might be a wonderful option. They actually prefer part-shade and can even tolerate full-shade locations provided they’re situated in well-draining soil.
Liriopes aren’t even fussy about fertilisers and can often reside in soil that is far from rich in nutrient base. But, if you want to get the most from these plants then rewarding them with a twice per year foliar spray might just encourage some better growth – and even a peek into their floral producing acumen.
Their watering needs are fairly minimal and they have few disease and pest problems.
The propagation of liriopes isn’t overly onerous either. This plant, like many clumping foliage plants, is propagated by division. Simply lift the plants in late autumn or early spring and tease apart sections ensuring that each separation contains some rootstock. Then situate them back into their growing location or pot out in a well-draining potting mix.
Each plant can be propagated this way each year but you may want to give them a season or two before separating them out.