What Is Black Mondo Grass: Landscaping With Black Mondo Grass

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Image by MichelR45

If you want a dramatic groundcover, try landscaping with black mondo grass. What is black mondo grass?  It is a low growing perennial plant with purplish-black, grass-like leaves. In proper sites, the little plants spread, forming a carpet of unique color and foliage. Before planting it’s good to learn just when to plant black mondo grass for better results.

What is Black Mondo Grass?

Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens,’ or black mondo grass, is a clumping plant with thick tufts of arching black leaves. The strappy leaves are about 12 inches long (30 cm.) when mature. Plants send out racemes to form little baby plants over time. In late spring to early summer, racemes of pink bell-like flowers appear. From these, bluish-black berries form.

Mondo grass is evergreen, deer and rabbit resistant, and even salt and drought tolerant once established. The plant is hardy to USDA zones 5-10. There are a few types of mondo grass, but the black variety brings an interesting color note to the landscape that really sets off other plant hues. It is useful in full to partial shade sites.

When to Plant Black Mondo Grass

If you are intrigued and want to know how to grow this grass variety, first select a site with well-draining, rich, moist soil. For best results, install plants in early spring where you can take advantage of wet conditions. You can also plant them in summer or fall but water regularly in the former and mulch in the fall to protect plants from any unexpected freeze.

Try landscaping with black mondo grass around paths and along borders. They can also be used in containers, but expect slower growth.

How to Grow Black Mondo Grass

The best way to propagate this plant is through division. As the plant matures, usually in a couple of years, it will send out rhizomes that will form little baby plants. Divide these away from the parent in spring. Or just let them continue growing to produce a thick carpet of lush black foliage.

Black mondo grass care is simple and straightforward. They need regular water to get established and weekly thereafter for optimum growth. If planted in rich soil, they won’t need fertilizing but every couple of years in spring.

Black mondo grass has few pest or disease issues. Smut may be a problem unless the plant’s leaves have time to dry before nighttime. Slugs occasionally are an issue. Otherwise, grass care is easy and low maintenance.

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