One of the most popular landscape plants in many home landscape beds is Monkey Grass, but there are several species that all share similar features. They all grow in clumps, generally low-growing and are normally free of most insect and disease pests. Once established, the grass can grow for years without much care, but as it is said, one person’s desired plant is another person’s weed. You can cultivate it, but you can also eradicate it. Here are the basic differences between these ornamental grasses.
Liriope Muscari (Monkey Grass)
This low-growing flowering plant was imported from Asia and is known for its low growth and low maintenance requirements. It will grow just about anywhere and will tolerate drought, heat and high humidity and it will grow in both sunny and shady areas. It grows well in zones 5 through 10, so it will not grow in areas with extreme heat or cold. It is better suited for southern landscapes, but will grow in northern climates as well. Most plants of this cultivar grow in a clump, forming mounds that are 12 to 24 inches high. They have flowers that range in color from white to pink to lavender to purple. They are evergreen in southern areas and the leaves range in color from green to variegated to yellow.
Liriope spicata (Lilyturf)
This cultivart is also from Asia, and like Monkey Grass, it is almost indestrucatible. It has very similar characteristics as Liriope muscari with the big difference of having a creeping growth habit and it will fill in a large area within a short period of time. It does grow shrter than Monkey grass, only reachong heights of 10 to 15 inches. It has white to lavendar flowers that rise on flower stalks that reach about 10 inches in length in late summer. It also has varigated varieties. It grows best in zones 4 to 11.
Ophiopogon (Mondo grass or Monkey grass)
This plant originates form Japan and is an excellent ground cover for shady areas. It will produce a dense mat that is perfect for areas where erosion may be a problem. It also has dwarf varieties that grow only 2 to 3 inches that make an excellent ground cover that can be a substitute for normal turfgrasses. It can grow in shady areas as well as in sunny locations. This grass only grows well in zones 7 through 11, so it is not as versatile as the other ornamental grasses listed above.
Monkey grass, lilyturf or Liriope all have a place in a home landscape. Just be sure you choose the species that will grow best in your landscape. Have questions about what plants are right for your landscape, contact your neighborhood Spring-Green. Thanks.