Here's another plant that has been unfortunately neglected as a houseplant. If someone approached you and asked if you were interested in a reliable indoor foliage plant that maintained its color in shady conditions, wasn't overly concerned about colder temperatures, and was tolerant of a huge range of conditions, including periods of drought, you'd jump on it, right? Well, that describes liriope pretty well. Long used as a dependable border or massed bedding plant, liriope is rarely the star of any garden. It's used to frame a walkway or set off flowers. Indoors, however, liriope can be used as a grassy, textured potted plant on a windowsill, and because it provides such consistent color, it will deliver. There is also a variegated type available.
- Light: Liriope prefers bright light of sunlight, but it can also grow in relatively shade and the less-then-perfect light of an indoor room. Be aware that the variegated type is less tolerant of full sunlight.
- Water: Provide ample and regular moisture throughout the growing season. In the winter, cut water back some, but don't cease watering. Liriope is a sub-tropical plant and does not require a dormant period. Brown leaf tips usually signify lack of water.
- Fertilizer: Use a high-quality fertilizer beginning in the spring. They aren't heavy feeders, so a controlled-release fertilizer is a good choice.
- Soil: Liriope are not particular as to the soil type. Any high-quality potting soil is a good option.
Liriope are typically sold as potted plants, and because they're so cheap, most people don't bother propagating them. However, if you want to propagate your liriope, they can be divided at replanting time. It's best to choose a fairly robust and large clump for division, then repot each clump into its own pot and water and treat as a mature plant.
Mature liriope reach about 18 to 24 inches (although there is a dwarf variety that is less commonly seen). They are not particularly fast growing and do well when they are slightly pot bound. Nevertheless, it's a good to repot healthy liriope annually, dividing the plants at repotting time. When repotting liriope, only go up one pot size and use fresh, well-draining potting soil.
The main liriope features green, grass-like leaves that first grow up, and then arch over. Despite appearances, liriope is not actually a grass but a relative of the lily. This type of liriope works beautifully in masses and can be used to set off foliage plants such as caladium. There is also a variegated type of about the same size and height. And finally there is a dwarf variety that grows in smaller clumps and generally stays less than about 6 inches in height. All liriope generally thrive in the same conditions.
There's a reason liriope is so heavily used as a bedding and landscape plant in the warmer zones: it's a very tough plant that does fairly well with drought conditions, variable light, and can handle both heat and cold without undue stress. It likes good drainage and will suffer from sitting in water, but unlike some other plants, this won't be instantly fatal. The main problem with liriope is likely to be brown leaf tips and brown leaf margins. These can be caused by a number of conditions, including too little water and dry air. If your plant starts to develop brown leaf tips, try misting it occassionally and making sure your water is adequate. Liriope is vulnerable to mealybugs and aphids.