Tropical Style

Fantastic Design Plant: Black Mondo Grass

In the soul of Black Friday, one of the most highly anticipated unofficial American holidays, this week’s plant select features — you guessed it — a black plant. Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) has gained fame as one of the most uniquely-hued and easy-to-grow plants on the market.

Much like many perennial grasses, autumn is a great time to plant black mondo grass. Elect for well-drained, humus-rich soil for a positive planting.

Botanical name: Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’; Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Arabicus’; Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Black Night’
Common names: black mondo grass, black lilyturf
USDA zones: 5-10
Water necessity: Moderate to regular, based on climate
Sun necessity: Full sun to partial shade
Mature dimensions:12″ tall x 12″ disperse
Tolerances: Drought

Distinguishing attributes. Striking matte black foliage resembling a sea anemone immediately catches your attention and draws you to the plant. Droopy leaves reach 15″ in length, leading to an overall plant height of around 10-12″. While the grass is slightly clumping and spreading, general it will only grow to about 12″ in diameter.

Evergreen in temperate climates, black mondo provides year-round interest. Initially spring new growth emerges in a dark green, quickly transitioning to its regular black. Summer brings amazing bell-shaped pink, white or lavender flowers which then give way to bluish black berries lasting well into winter.

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How to utilize it. Volume plant black mondo grass or utilize it as a planter accent, along a path, or in a stone garden.

Unlike many grasses, black mondo can grow in the shade. Whether planted under an enormous spreading tree or with a massive boulder, black mondo can serves as a textural contrast to essentially any plant or landscape design element out there — especially lighter foliage colors in a bold chartreuse or deep red.

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Before you plant. Black mondo is a low-maintenance, cold-hardy and pest-free plant. Plant spring through autumn in rich, well-drained soils with medium moisture. As a slow-growing and non-spreading perennial grass, it may take longer for beds to fill out than with other mondo grass varieties.

More great design crops:
Feather Reed Grass | New Zealand Wind Grass | Red Kangaroo Paw
Blue Chalk Sticks | Catmint | Slipper Plant

Amazing design trees:
Japanese Maple | Persian Ironwood | Smoke Tree | Bald Cypress | Tree Aloe

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