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May 5, 2018


I have 2 types of monkey grasses in my front beds--the striped and the solid green.  In one bed the solid spread and now occupies all of one end.  Last year I dug up roots and all but it came back even thicker.  Can it be killed totally without using a poison of any kind?  Would vinegar help?  I just want it gone--all of it.


 AnswerThere are two types of liriope or monkey grass-not just variegated and green.  There are clumping forms and spreading forms, and they both have variegated and solid green plants available.  The spreading form is Liriope spicata and is quite invasive.  You can dig up as much as you can and then watch what sprouts from remaining roots and spray those with a glyphosate product (Round-up). It will take a few seasons before you are monkey grass free.


April 28, 2018


I purchased a house that has liriope planted on both sides of a sidewalk.  I'd like to move the liriope to another location but not if it is the invasive, spreading variety.  Based on information from the neighbors I believe that it was planted 20+ years ago and I assume that the plants would have been no larger than 5" in diameter.  The rows of liriope are now 24" wide and I do not see any "volunteers" that are outside the rows.  Is it safe to assume that it is the tidy variety?  I'd hate to dig it up, divide it and plant it in another location only to see it spring up (unwanted) in other parts of my yard.

AnswerI would definitely say you have the well-behaved variety (Liriope muscarii).   The invasive one (L. spicata) would have blanketed your entire yard after 20 years.  The muscarii variety is a clumping one where the clump enlarges each year, while the spicata is a runner which produces lots of small plants, but no large clumps. 


May 20, 2017

QuestionDue to my holly bushes being full of bees, I didn't get my liriope under the bushes trimmed early and then forgot about them.  Is it too late to trim it now?



You can still trim it but it is going to take more time. Instead of just cutting the whole plant back, you will now need to selectively cut the older leaves so that you don’t cut the new growth that is up and growing.   If you do cut the new growth, it will have that cut look all summer. It won’t hurt the plant, it just won’t be as attractive. 


March 2014

QuestionI've tried to find the answer to this question on the Internet but have had no luck finding a specific answer. Will liriope suffocate other vegetation? I find it is considered a groundcover which makes me think it might not kill the shrubs and trees it might surround. But I'd like to be sure before I let it run wild.

AnswerIt depends on which type of liriope you are growing. Liriope muscari is the clumping form of liriope which is pretty well behaved. Liriope spicata is a running form which is quite invasive and can overtake perennials and other small plants in its wake. It usually does not hurt large trees or shrubs. 


(June 2010)

QuestionI have a fifty foot border of monkey grass along my front walkway. I am threatening to dig it up and replace it with a rock border because I can't keep the Bermuda grass out of it. Other than hand pulling it out, which would be a daily chore, do you have any suggestion to getting it and keeping it under control? We love the look of the monkey grass but the Bermuda makes it very ugly. I would appreciate any suggestion you may have.


AnswerI have two suggestions. One is to invest in a grass specific herbicide that can be sprayed on the monkey grass or liriope (Liriope is in the lily family, and is not a true grass). Poast, Fusilade, Grass-b-gone, Ornamec and/or Over-the-top are all brand names. Try to get these products sprayed as soon as possible, since the grass is getting a strong foot hold and dead grass can be just as unattractive as live grass in the liriope. Once you have the grass under control, create a buffer zone between your lawn and your monkey grass. It should be at least six to twelve inches wide. You can use some type of edging or mulch here, but it gives you some space to keep the lawn in check either with a weed-eater, edger or chemical. Whenever we have our beds directly adjacent to running grasses, the grass takes over.

(May 2010)

QuestionI have a raised berm with a mass planting of liriope. The bed is well established, but I am having a problem with weeds (both grass and broadleaf) where the liriope is a little thin. What can I use to handle the weed problem and what can I do to increase the density of the liriope in the thin spots?


AnswerThere is not a broadleaf weed killer that you could use that wouldn’t also harm the liriope. Try to hand-pull or hoe the broadleaf weeds. For the grass, you can use a grass-specific herbicide such as Grass-b-gone, Ornamec, Over-the-top, etc. Liriope is in the lily family so will not be affected by the grass herbicide. The key is to catch the grass when it begins to run. Then put down a good layer of mulch. To thicken up your stand of liriope, either divide some of your larger plants or plant a few more where you have bare spots. A light application of a slow release nitrogen fertilizer will also help.

(July 2006)

QuestionI need a good sidewalk border that will look good all year round with some.


AnswerDo you really need plants running the length of the sidewalk, or can the lawn be enough? If you think you need some type of planting, make sure there is a distinct border between lawn and plants. Many times you see monkey grass or daylilies flanking a sidewalk and they are a mess of grass and plants. A buffer zone that can be edged or weed-eated can help. You didn't mention if you had sun or shade. If you have sun, perennial verbena can be a nice addition, but usually won't live more than 3-4 years. Stella d'or daylilies can bloom for a long period of time and are only dormant for a month or two in the winter and candytuft is an evergreen perennial with beautiful white spring flowers. Monkey grass (Liriope) is evergreen and takes sun or shade, but isn't particularly colorful unless you go with a variegated form. You could always do a mass planting of low growing shrubs, but they usually aren't necessary the entire length of the sidewalk. For shade plants, try ajuga with great colorful foliage, heuchera--many different colored varieties to choose from and they are evergreen, or pachysandra an evergreen groundcover.

(April 2010)

QuestionI have tried and failed numerous times over the years to get either Zoysia or St. Augustine sod to grow on the north side of my home (in the alley between our home and the house next door). My wife and I have decided to consider a ground cover of some type in lieu of grass. Could you possibly point us in the direction of some appropriate types of ground cover for this area which has little, if any, sunshine, year round?


AnswerSeveral choices come to mind, including moss as mentioned in earlier columns. If you want a grass look-alike there is Mondo grass (Ophiopogon) and Liriope or monkey grass--if there are strong borders limiting growth you can use Liriope spicata--the running form, but it can be invasive; the clumping form is Liriope muscarii. Other options include Ajuga, pachysandra, and Creeping Jenny- Lysimachia nummularia--I really like the golden form. Mazus, pratia and ardesia are other choices.

(September 2007)

QuestionWe have some creeping liriope that has become invasive and it is also hard to keep weeds under control in the bed. I would like to kill it with something like Roundup and then dig it up before replanting something else in the spring. My concern is, will the use of Roundup be harmful to the next planting?


AnswerThe Round-up will not be harmful to next years planting, but I doubt it will completely kill all the liriope either. Running liriope--Liriope spicata, is quite tenacious. It will probably take more than one application of Round-up. The fact that you want to dig up the roots will definitely help, but don't ignore the site--watch for sprouts next spring.

(November 2006)

QuestionWhen is the best time to trim azalea bushes and monkey grass?


AnswerDon't prune your azaleas any more now, wait until after they bloom. The flower buds are set for next spring’s display, so any pruning now will cut off flowers. Prune as needed immediately following bloom up until mid June. Then let them grow and prepare to set more flower buds for the next season. For monkey grass or Liriope prune in late February before the new growth begins. Cut off the spent foliage to clean things up for the new growing season.

(November 2005)

QuestionMy neighbor and I were wondering if we could cut back our variegated Liriope now instead of spring


AnswerI know that there has been some damage to Liriope or Monkey Grass this growing season due to the dry, hot summer. If it is really hideous, I guess you could cut it back, but in my opinion, the cut look is not that much better, and you may have to cut even further in the spring. Doing the pruning in the fall could lead to some winter damage--however, Liriope is a tough plant. We often get some discolored leaves during the winter, and use the late winter/early spring pruning as a means of rejuvenation and clean up.

(April 2005)

QuestionI have Monkey Grass that is 9 - 15 inches tall; it is very ragged looking and the tips are brown. I want to cut it back for new growth. How short can we cut it and it still thrive.


AnswerCut away but do it quickly. You normally can cut it back to almost the soil line, but since it is so late, you don't want ragged, cut tips on the new foliage, so be a bit more sparing. See how tall the new growth is and selectively prune around it if possible. If you don't cut the old foliage off, the plants will look bedraggled all season.

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