Now is the time to tend to liriope

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

Early February in the Miss-Lou landscape reveals the natural contrast of the bare deciduous trees and lush southern evergreens.

Elegant trunks and branches of crape myrtles stand out gracefully against the winter sky.

Camellias color the local landscape with marvelous flower hues that brighten even the dreariest day.

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Succulent bright green Sedum acre, an evergreen groundcover, is beautiful in winter as it prepares to flower soon in brilliant yellow.

Planted under evergreen Nandina, the two make a marvelous winter combination.

Both are plants that some folks classify as &8220;common&8221; and not worthy of space in their garden.

However, one look at their winter beauty should be enough to encourage anyone to plant these easy-to-grow species.

Rumors you may have heard regarding the possibility of either or both of these plants taking over your garden should be ignored.

Both grow well in the south (a good thing if you ask me), but with a little attention every few months they can be easily maintained to fit any space.

The best aspect of gardening in the south is that we can spend time outdoors during the coldest months and enjoy our landscape. Sunny days are a great excuse to get out into your yard and do a little maintenance.

Liriope in need of a trim can still be cut back while it&8217;s dormant.

If you wait until the new shoots emerge, you will cut off the tips of the fresh foliage, causing them to brown.

Doing so will make the plants look unsightly for the entire year.

Obviously this would defeat the purpose of the pruning. Depending on the weather, the new growth could begin in the next couple of weeks.

I have often been asked if liriope has to be trimmed every year. The answer is &8220;Absolutely not.&8221;

Healthy, attractive green foliage should remain as such throughout the year.

Pruning off old, tattered growth is purely a matter of aesthetics and is a necessity some years to rejuvenate the plants.

Ideally, liriope should rarely need such harsh treatment&8212; although for some of us that have spring fever already, pruning the plants seems like a good way to speed up the process.

Breaking out the weed whacker or the clippers to do the job is simply our way of warming up for spring gardening activities.

Either way, an application of a slow release fertilizer now will make nutrients available to the feeder roots so that they can distribute them through the plants just as the new growth begins.

In return for a little maintenance, your liriope will reward you with lush new leaves and stunning blue blossoms this year.

Enjoy the peaceful beauty of winter in the Miss-Lou, but if you&8217;re itching to work in your garden, now&8217;s the time to take care of your liriope so that it will be lovely year-round.

A little attention now will go a long way for this southern landscape staple.

Traci Maier

writes a weekly column about gardening in the Miss-Lou. She can be reached at