Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Gardening 101: Black Mondo Grass

Search

Gardening 101: Black Mondo Grass

October 24, 2017

Black Mondo Grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’: Dark Diva

Yes, Halloween is near. Yes, this plant is scary. Thankfully black mondo grass does not lurk under beds or wield sharp knives, or even creep around gardens scaring small woodland creatures. Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ is, however, scarily beautiful—when perfectly contrasted with well-chosen plants.

Please keep reading to learn how to use this dark beauty:

A dry-stack basalt stone wall and stone staircase create a garden bed for a sculptural tree, underplanted with black mondo grass. See more in Rehab Diary: A Garden Makeover for a Ranch-Style House in Oregon.
Above: A dry-stack basalt stone wall and stone staircase create a garden bed for a sculptural tree, underplanted with black mondo grass. See more in Rehab Diary: A Garden Makeover for a Ranch-Style House in Oregon.

Erroneously, I once thought that black mondo grass was a grass. But despite the appearance of  the word “grass” in its common name and the fact that the leaves look like blades of grass, mondo grass is in the Ruscaceae family (just like other chameleons such as Liriope and Carex).

Black mondo grass plays beautifully against purple or pink foliage. Photograph by Meredith Swinehart.
Above: Black mondo grass plays beautifully against purple or pink foliage. Photograph by Meredith Swinehart.

Black mondo grass has evergreen, tufty charm. With its exotic, modern-looking, fine-bladed texture, you can use black mondo grass as you would low ornamental grasses in your garden and containers—for its textural appeal, ground cover abilities, and relaxed nature.

Black mondo grass, rootbound. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.
Above: Black mondo grass, rootbound. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

Now to the scary part. Black mondo grass is, of course, an adherent to the classic Halloween- dark- toned theme. But outside of this holiday season, you can use its dark delights to add a supreme color contrast hit, especially when the truly deep black blades are paired with chartreuse colored plants such as Heuchera ‘Lime Rickey’, scotch moss, or sedum angelina. When thinking of what to pair it with, think lighter tones and bright contrasting colors.

Black mondo grass has a demure, delicate flower. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.
Above: Black mondo grass has a demure, delicate flower. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

Cheat Sheet

  • As are most grass and grass-like plants, black mondo grass is deerproof.
  • Produces lavender flowers in the summer that are cute for small arrangements; black mondo grass also has purple berries in the fall.
  • Black mondo grass is a theatrical choice for the front of borders, containers , edging, ground cover, woodland, and modern Asian/Zen gardens.
A black mondo grass mash-up; a Black Mondo Grass Kokedama is £50 from Kojo.
Above: A black mondo grass mash-up; a Black Mondo Grass Kokedama is £50 from Kojo.

Keep It Alive

  • Plant black mondo grass in rich, well-draining soil, and space 3″ apart for a quicker spread if using as a ground cover.
  • Sun is a conflicting issue. In hot areas plant in part sun, in Northern climates plant in full sun. Tip: too much shade fades its notable blackness.
  • Provide consistent moisture and more in extreme heat.
  • Clumps to 6 inches tall and wide. Not a fast spreader.
  • For a tidy look, remove old ratty leaves in the spring before new blades emerge.

N.B: Gearing up for a garden makeover? Delve into our Hardscape 101: Design Guides. They will take you through planning, designing, and planting your new garden. What plants should you use? See:

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow and care for various grasses with our Grasses: A Field Guide.

Additionally, get more ideas on how to successfully plant, grow, and care for black mondo grass with our Black Mondo Grass: A Field Guide.

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various perennial plants with our Perennials: A Field Guide.

Additionally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various ground cover plants with our Ground Covers: A Field Guide.

Product summary  

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0