What is Black Mondo Grass?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Black mondo grass, or ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens, is a type of evergreen perennial lily-grass native to Korea and Japan. The leaves of the plant are typically black with a purplish tinge, but may have a greenish tinge on an immature plant. Its flowers are usually small, bell-shaped, and purple-white in color. Black mondo grass is hardy and often needs very little care in order to flourish. It spreads slowly and thrives in temperate zones.

Black mondo grass is an evergreen perennial grass often grown ornamentally as a garden plant. Its leaves are usually dark purple to black in color and about 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) wide. New leaves may appear green in hue, but turn black as they mature. Black mondo grass produces bell-shaped, pale lavender blooms in the summer and shiny black berries throughout the winter. The plant can grow as tall as 15 inches (38.1 cm).

Typically preferring partial shade to full sun, black mondo grass generally needs well-drained soil, and can be a good choice for rock gardens. The plant typically requires little attention and little fertilization to thrive, and is not considered particularly attractive to parasites. It grows in small clumps, and spreads slowly through its roots. Smaller plants will typically appear not far from the parent plants. Black mondo grass is propagated through separating the root clumps in the spring.


Because evergreen grasses like black mondo grass aren't considered true grasses, but only grass-like plants, they should always be divided in the spring. Evergreen grasses such as black mondo grass do not typically undergo periods of dormancy, such that dividing the root clumps invariably injures the plant to some degree. Dividing root clumps only in the spring can allow the plants enough time to recover before winter. If plants aren't allowed to recover from root clump division, they may not survive the colder months.

Many prefer to grow black mondo grass in the shady areas of the garden, as it can usually be cultivated in the shade of larger plants. Black mondo grass is considered a desirable ornamental plant for its striking foliage, which emits a pleasant fragrance when brushed against or trod upon. As a landscape plant, it is often used as edging and can highlight the lighter foliage of other plants in the garden.


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Post 3

@litterally45-- The other good part about black mondo grass is that animals are not attracted to it. I had issues with deer and rabbits munching on some of my plants and grasses previously. But they don't touch the black mondo grass at all.

If I had to think of a downside, I guess it would be that it's kind of expensive.

Post 2

@turquoise-- Yes, black mondo grass and green mondo grass are basically the same. I like black mondo grass because of the dark black foliage and purple flowers. It looks very nice.

The only downside I've noticed is that it takes a while for it to get established. Once it's established though, it grows well and adds a nice contrast to any green garden or yard. It's important to be patient in the beginning until it adapts to its new environment. From my experience, the grass does well in partial shade rather than full shade. I had one clump in full shade and one in partial shade and the one in partial shade grew faster.

Post 1

I'm familiar with dwarf mondo grass and regular mondo grass. I have not seen black mondo grass but it sounds like it's the same a regular mondo grass, just a different color.

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