Do you have lots of shade in your yard? Use liriope (Liriope muscari) or monkey/Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) for borders, ground covers, or as an accent.

Liriope and monkey/mondo grass do well in most light exposures, but do not seem to like full afternoon sun. They do well in other parts of the landscape, especially in the shade. Both are heat tolerant to our East Texas summers and are not especially thirsty.

Liriope and monkey grass are dense-clumping evergreen plants with dark green, grass-like blades. Liriope has a broader blade than the mondo grass. Both grow to a height of about 12″ and produce small flowers on spikes in summer, followed by a black fruit that looks like a berry.

Both can be purchased at nurseries and garden centers. But if you keep your eyes open, a neighbor or friend will probably have some that they would share if you are willing to put in the sweat equity to retrieve it.

Large clumps of liriope can be divided into smaller clumps and planted six to eight inches apart. With time, it will fill in and become a lovely solid border or ground cover. The variegated variety is especially well suited for use as an accent plant in beds.

Plan carefully where you plant monkey/mondo grass because it is very aggressive. In time, it will take over an area. It is great to use on slopes and large areas where you want it only as ground cover. A dwarf variety is low growing and is suitable for growing between stepping stones.

Cindy Harrington, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Shade Gardening