Controlling and Dividing Liriope (Monkey Grass)

Category Plant Info
Easy tips for growing this hearty plant in your garden. This is a page about controlling and dividing liriope or monkey grass.


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I had to sink some cinder blocks into the ground to hold back soil my foundation Holly hedge is planted in. The blocks do a great job, but the exposed top halves were rather unsightly.

I planted liriope in front of the blocks. The liriope hides the blocks and helps to give the lawn a more complete look. For now, it also helps take the eye away from some sparse grass in the area where newly sown grass will soon emerge.

A lot of people like liriope very much, but are reluctant to grow it for fear they cannot keep it under control. I know from personal experience liriope will spread aggressively. Once it has spread past it's desired site, it can be very difficult to remove. It's underground runners spread quickly and when digging them up, it's almost impossible to get them all. I have solved that problem, at least for the way in which I use liriope. I simply plant the liriope in pots and sink the pots into the ground, level with the surrounding soil. Using an empty pot for measurement, I dig a hole just the size to accommodate the pot. Then, another pot with the
same measurements and holding a liriope plant is placed in the hole.

It is possible for the liriope to escape the pot, but in all the years I've grown it in pots sunken into the ground, I've never had this happen. Liriope grows quickly. A small plant will soon fill these pots and become root bound.

For me this is a blessing rather than a nuisance. I always need more plants. Division of liriope grown in pots couldn't be easier.

Lifting the liriope for division can be done while leaving its pot in the ground. Just grasp all the foliage together and give it a tug. It should release from the pot with all soil intact. To divide the clump, lay it on a steady surface. Place a long serrated knife into the top center of the ball of soil. Saw from top to bottom all the way through the clump. You should end up with two neat divisions.

One division can be centered in a new pot and filled with soil. The other division can be placed back into the inground pot from which it was taken and the pot filled with soil.

I have many pots of liriope. They all came from one pot which has been divided many times over the years.

If you want to grow liriope but fear it's invasive nature, I think you can grow it in inground containers without any worry. I do.

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