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Preview: Gardening Q & A

Gardening with George Weigel

Answers to your gardening questions and other tips by George Weigel.

Last Build Date: Sat, 19 Aug 2017 13:08:24 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2017

One of our hardest-to-kill plants is now a thriving bloomer: George's Plant Pick of the Week

Fri, 07 Jul 2017 13:06:07 UTC


This week's Plant Pick of the Week is a groundcover variety that blooms well enough to be used in a perennial garden.

Here's PennLive garden writer George Weigel's Plant Pick of the Week for this week:

* Common name: Lilyturf Purple Explosion

* Botanical name: Liriope muscari 'EXC 051'

* What it is: Liriope has long been a garden workhorse - a durable, versatile, grassy-looking perennial that does sun or shade, poor soil, and even the dry shade and root competition under big trees. It's always been a little weak in the bloom department with just a smattering of spiky purple flowers for a few weeks in late summer. Purple Explosion kicks up the bloom by sending up many more flowers of darker purple over a much longer period - from late June through summer.

* Size: Foliage grows 10 to 12 inches tall with flower spikes that reach up to 15 to 18 inches. Plant 18 inches apart.

* Where to use: One of those rare plants that will tolerate just about any site, although Purple Explosion flowers best in full sun. Use it as an edging along walks and driveways or as a sunny to partly shaded groundcover. This one blooms well enough to earn a place in perennial gardens and foundations, too.

* Care: The foliage stays green through most winters, but then it needs to be cut back to a 1-inch stub before the next season's new growth emerges in April. A weed-whacker is fine. If you don't cut it, it'll brown later and be much harder to remove with the new green foliage in the way. Needs only occasional watering in the worst dry spells and little, if any, fertilizer. This variety expands slowly from around the clump; no invasive runners. If it spreads beyond where you want, dig up clumps and replant divided sections or simply shovel out unwanted growth from the perimeter. Early spring is best time for dividing.

* Great partner: Contrasts nicely with the wide leaves of hosta, coralbells or brunnera in shadier settings. The strappy, bladed leaves pair well with rounded shrubs, such as boxwoods, hydrangeas and spirea.

See George's Plant Profiles for more on hundreds of past plant picks of the week.

George's 170 most recommended plants for Pennsylvania gardens are profiled in his "Pennsylvania Getting Started Garden Guide" book.

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