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:
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 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.
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.
- 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.
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:
- Perennials 101: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design
- If you like the idea ground covers with tufting clumps, consider Fescue 101 and Lilyturf 101 as options.
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.