- Black Mondo Grass Seeds – Ornamental Grass Seed For Shade
- Let’s Monkey Around With Mondo Grass!
- How to Prune Mondo Grass
- How to Maintain “Monkey Grass”
- Mondo Grass Care: How To Grow Mondo Grass In Your Garden
- Mondo Grass Information
- How to Grow Mondo Grass
- Mondo Grass Care
- Types of Mondo Grass
- Ideal Mono Grass Growing Conditions
- Planting Dwarf Mondo Grass (with Video)
- Watch the video or follow the directions below
- Step 1: Dig planting holes 6″ apart
- Step 2: Planting Dwarf Mondo from trays
- Step 2: Transplanting Dwarf Mondo from an established area
- Step 3: Water the Dwarf Mondo plugs
- Step 4: Watch the Dwarf Mondo Grow
- Read this article for additional detailed information on planting Mondo Grasses.
- Summary of some of the important points:
- When to plant Dwarf Mondo
- Where to plant Dwarf Mondo
- Preparing to plant Dwarf Mondo
- Weed control after planting the Dwarf Mondo grass
- Disease and Pest Problems
- Mowing Dwarf Mondo
- Related posts:
Black Mondo Grass Seeds – Ornamental Grass Seed For Shade
USDA Zones: 6 – 10
Height: 6 inches
Width: 12 inches
Foliage Color: Black
Flower Color: Lilac
Growth Rate: Slow
Fall Color: Black
Soil Requirement: Well drained soils, pH 5.6 – 6.5
Environment: Partial to full shade
Temperature: 69F – If after 3 weeks no germination has occurred, place the container in a refrigerator (not freezer) at 40F for 3 – 4 weeks, then move the container back to the warmer temperature as indicated above. Germination can be erratic but usually takes between 30 and 150 days..
Average Germ Time: 30 – 180 days
Light Required: Yes
Depth: Cover with thin layer
Sowing Rate: 1 – 2 seeds per plant
Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination
Plant Spacing: 9 – 12 inches
Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens) – If you have shady areas, you’ll want to start Black Monda Grass seeds for a unique and attractive grass. Ophiopogon planiscapus Mondo Grass is considered to be a dwarf ornamental grass as it only reaches about 6 inches in height. It is one of the few black leaved ornamental grasses in the world and is stunning when planted in mass or as an accent plant in the flower garden. Black Mondo Grass ground cover is very useful in partial to full shade where it will spread slowly and not be aggressive or invasive. This is a great ornamental for year round color and interest.
How To Grow Black Mondo Grass From Ornamental Grass Seeds: Start Mondo Grass seeds indoors in the early spring. Use small pots filled with seed starting mix. Place the ornamental grass seeds onto the soil and cover thinly with sand or soil and keep the seeds moist. Transplant outdoors once soil temperatures have warmed and frost danger has passed. Black Mondo Grass Care: Do not cut Black Mondo Grass back as you would other types of ornamental grasses as it will take a long time for it to recover. You should only cut out dead or ugly looking leaves. It will develop small lilac blooms in summer followed by shiny black berries that persist through the winter.
Let’s Monkey Around With Mondo Grass!
Q. I’ve seen beautiful tufts of Mondo Grass growing among flowers, shrubs and trees in shopping center planters and have admired the pretty purple flowers that bloom amidst the dark green blades. But the little purple flowers on the Mondo grass I have at home are puny; I have to really hunt to find them. And even though I cut my grass short every Spring, the lush green leaves are encroaching on my other plants by summer. I’m also finding more and more OTHER grasses growing among the Mondo, and it’s getting harder to keep the unwanted plants at bay. How do I properly grow this beautiful ornamental grass?
- —Erin in Hopewell, NJ
I would like to plant some type of Mondo grass on a long, narrow, mostly shady slope that refuses to support regular grass. (An article in the Washington Post mentioned it as an option for such locations.) But I have beds on either side that I don’t want the Mondo grass to invade, have been “Goggling” like mad, and can’t find a definitive answer on HOW invasive the regular or dwarf varieties might eventually become. I’d prefer the regular variety because the height would look better between the beds. But would it be a safe choice? Thanks,
- —Liz in Spotsylvania, VA
A. Mondo grass—often called Monkey grass down South—is a member of the Ophiopogon (“o-fee-oh-poe-gone’) genus of groundcovers from Asia, specifically O. japonicas. It is tempting to call these plants ‘ornamental grasses’, but despite their appearance and common name, they are not grasses of any kind. They’re members of the lily family and are closely related to the notorious lily of the valley, a groundcover beloved by many gardeners, but probably despised by many more for its invasive habit. Hmmmm…Is this relationship a warning of potential invasiveness? Or just an interesting botanical footnote?
Let’s begin with a discussion of basic, normal sized Mondo grass. The leaves are dark green and look a lot like those of an ornamental grass. Although Mondo grows in clumps, those clumps send out underground runners that slooowly spread laterally to gradually fill in the areas in-between, giving the appearance—after a few years—of something a bit like a lawn. The basic type grows to around eight inches in height, but the leaves tend to bow down, giving it a shorter appearance and leading to a more full, lawn-like look. Mondo grass lawns need no mowing, tolerate pretty deep shade and are very drought resistant.
Mondo grass is also used to fill in areas between pavers and stepping stones. The dwarf varieties—named versions of O. japonicas that range in height from a tidy two to four inches—are especially good at this. Now, you’d think that grass-like plants that size would make a perfect lawn substitute, but dwarf Mondo grasses are notoriously slow to spread, and you’d have to plant them as thick as sod to keep weeds from overwhelming them in a big lawn-like planting.
Although it’s most widely used as a ground cover in shady areas, sources tend to call Mondo a ‘sun or shade’ plant. But as I’ve explained in the past, ‘full sun’ means different things depending on where you live, and the garden experts at Southern Living magazine (who know a lot more about hot weather gardening than I do) warn not to plant it in areas that receive a fair amount of hot, direct sun.
The little purple flowers lusted after by our New Jersey listener appear on very short spikes, and are generally lost inside the leaves; so I’m guessing that placement had a lot to do with her shopping center experience. Mondo grass that’s planted higher—in a container or dramatically raised bed—will appear to have more visible flowers, as will individual specimens that don’t have the leaves of other plants overlapping them. It’s much easier to achieve this look in a commercial bed that’s probably planted fresh every year than in a home landscape.
The annual mowing she mentions is also probably detracting from its potential appearance, as well as opening it up to weed invasion and maybe even forcing it to spread faster into those unwanted areas. So no more mowing. But the habit of basic Mondo is to slowly spread, and if she wants it to stay exactly where she plants it, she needs to install edging around a desired area of plants, or tear out what she has and replace it with a similar but black-bladed cousin that doesn’t move around.
That would be so-called ‘black Mondo grass’, which despite its common name, is a different species of plant within the Ophiopogon genus. (Its scientific name is O. planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’.) The leaves are about as close to true black as you’ll see in the plant world, and it grows about as tall as true Mondo grass, but it doesn’t spread much at all, behaving a lot more like a true ornamental grass. (So it wouldn’t fill in to give you a black lawn; sorry, Addams Family fans.)
And Black Mondo can also be grown a little further North than regular Mondo grass (which is frost hardy, but wouldn’t survive a far Northern winter).
Black Mondo may also be the best choice for Liz near D. C., who wants height but not spread. Otherwise, some decent edging should be enough to keep the basic type where you want it. Because,while it does spread, I wouldn’t call Mondo grass invasive or aggressive. Ah, but some other members of the Ophiopogon genus, like Aztec grass, are aggressive and highly invasive. Be careful you don’t get one of them mislabeled as Mondo.
How to Prune Mondo Grass
lawn and border bed image by TMLP from Fotolia.com
Looking like grass but really a member of the lily family, mondo grass forms clumps of curving, linear leaves, which work well as a ground covers in garden settings. Most often mondo grass is the species Ophiopogon japonicus, but another species, Ophiopogon planiscapus is also called mondo grass and has a variety with dark purple foliage known as black mondo grass. Grow these species of mondo grass in a fertile, moist, well-draining soil in partial sunlight exposures in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 7 through 10.
Clip back the blades of mondo grass with a heavy-duty scissors or lawn clippers in early to mid-spring before new leaf growth has started. Make the cuts so that 1 to 2 inches of leaves remain on the plant. Do not allow the pruning debris to remain atop the mondo grass plants. This is the same technique used on lilyturf plants (Liriope spp.).
Water and fertilize the pruned mondo grass to encourage healthy, robust rejuvenation of leaves in mid to late spring.
Spot-cut or pull out any leaves or tufts of foliage that brown and dry during the growing season and into the cooler winter months. Do not over-water the mondo grass during winter so less foliage dies back from rot.
How to Maintain “Monkey Grass”
Chances are if you live in Atlanta, you’ve seen this ornamental grass and likely have some in your yard. This popular plant is as an ideal candidate for groundcover and border planting in the south. Its hardiness and versatility make it an easy choice for Atlanta homeowners. Monkey grass requires very little maintenance but yields great rewards in its ability to give your yard an aesthetic facelift.
Monkey Grass Facts: This Asian-native is an interesting plant with a few types to choose from.
- Other names it is known as include: liriope, spider grass, lily turf, border grass, and mondo grass.
- It’s not actually grass, it’s a perennial with leaves that resembles grass.
- Some varieties produce white or purple blooms in the summer.
- Leaves tend to be darker green in the shade and lighter green when exposed to more sunlight.
Types of Monkey Grass: With several selections, it’s just a matter of finding the right one for your needs.
- Spreading: If you’re looking for a great solution for those tough to mow areas or groundcover for a slope or large area in your yard, make sure you choose a monkey grass that spreads.
- Clumping: If you’re seeking a lovely border plant with lush green leaves to distinguish gardens and walkways, you will want a monkey grass that clumps.
Benefits of Monkey Grass: There are many attractive characteristics that make this plant popular to homeowners around the country, especially here in the Atlanta area. Monkey grass is:
- Tolerant to drought and heat
- Requires little to no fertilizer
- Grows in many types of soil
- Can flourish in a variety of conditions
- Rarely suffers from foot traffic, disease, insect or animal damage
Monkey Grass Maintenance: With all the hardy qualities of this thick, low-maintenance groundcover, what can you do to care for your monkey grass?
- Water: Monkey grass only needs watering two weeks after initial planting. Afterwards, you can water your liriope during periods of consistent or extreme drought.
- Mulch: Apply 2-4 inches of mulch after trimming to help ward off weeds.
- Weed: Hand pull weeds around your monkey grass or spot treat weeds with a post emergent- be sure to steer clear of spraying the monkey grass.
- Trim: Although cutting back your monkey grass isn’t a necessity, it is recommended. As the leaves on the plant begin to age, they develop brown spots on the tips that won’t do much for the beauty of your yard. The good news is that monkey grass produces a new set of leaves each spring so you can easily replace that old growth with a lush, green border for spring.
- Timing: It’s best to trim in the late winter or early spring before new shoots appear. Waiting to cut liriope down after new shoots emerge will create dull tips for the remainder of the year.
- Methods: You can cut back your monkey grass by simply giving it a quick mow or using your weed eater. Just be sure to adjust the mower to the highest setting. If you don’t have much to trim and want to take a more delicate approach, hand trimming will also work. Use clippers to cut the leaves down to about 3 inches.
Monkey grass will survive with little to no care, but there are some steps you can take to keep it looking top notch. Know what types of monkey grass you need for your landscape, don’t forget to add mulch and weed around it, and also give it a quick trim to make room for new blades come spring.
photo credit: Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’ via photopin (license)
Mondo Grass Care: How To Grow Mondo Grass In Your Garden
Mondo grass is also known as monkey grass. It is an evergreen perennial that makes a great groundcover or standalone grass-like plant. These plants perform well in almost any soil and lighting condition. Mondo grass is a slow growing plant that can be easily propagated by division and requires minimal care once established. A truly attractive and outstanding landscape plant with a multitude of uses, it is well worth the gardener’s time to learn how to grow mondo grass.
Mondo Grass Information
Mondo grass can tolerate almost anything, including deer, but fails without adequate moisture. What is mondo grass? It is not a true grass, but it does have strappy leaves and a clumping habit. In summer it brightens up the area with lavender or white flowers that develop into glossy black fruit.
Growing mondo grass is easy, as the plant withstands neglect in regions where plentiful moisture is naturally available. Once established, you can pretty much forget about the plant unless you want to go check out its seasonal beauty, or it is time to divide it.
Imagine great grassy tussocks shrunk down to fairyland size, and you can envision mondo grass. These small plants grow only 6 to 10 inches tall (15-25 cm.) and have a clumping or mounding nature depending upon variety. Ophiopogon japonicus is the scientific name and refers to the plant’s native region of Asia. The components of the name are derived from the Latin words for snake and beard, a reference to the spiky flowers.
As a lawn substitute in shady to partially sunny locations, it is a great sod alternative that never needs mowing. Mondo grass spreads by stolons, or underground stems, and can slowly form dense colonies. Leaves are ½ inch wide (1.3 cm.) and glossy green or even variegated.
How to Grow Mondo Grass
Mondo grass care is extremely minimal, but you do need to choose the correct site and prepare the bed for best results. Plants are light green in full sun but deeper green in shade. Either location works well provided soil is well draining and free of competitive weeds.
You can separate clumps into sections, each with several stolons and plant 4 to 12 inches (10-30 cm.) apart depending on how quickly you want the area to fill in. Dwarf mondo should be planted 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm.) apart.
Cover roots and stolons with loose soil but avoid covering the crown of the plant. Keep soil moderately moist during establishment.
Mondo Grass Care
If you are growing mondo grass as a lawn, there is little you need to maintain it. Remove any weeds as they appear and keep the area moist in the dry season. After winter storms, leaves may be ragged and can be trimmed back a bit for best appearance.
Divide clumps every 3 years if grown as standalone plants.
Mondo grass needs very little fertilizing. A once-annual feeding in spring with a diluted grass feed is sufficient.
Any mondo grass information should list its pest and disease issues. Snails and slugs may be a problem, as can scale. Disease issues are fungal and form during wet, warm periods. Serious damage by any of these is unlikely.
There are numerous cultivars from which to choose, with variant flower colors and size. There is even a black-leaved mondo, which is an excellent foil for both green-leaved plants and brightly colored flora.
Mondo Grass is an incredibly resilient type of plant that is both tough and durable. It will stand up to everything from shade to deer – all it needs is to survive is moisture. You’ll find that you maintaining this plant is quite easy and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep it looking great.
Most often this plant is used to line flower beds and trees and works perfectly to add some dimension to your garden.
Types of Mondo Grass
Before you go out and get yourself some Mondo grass seeds you’ll need to understand the different types of this grass subset.
There are 4 main types of Mondo Grass you should be aware of including:
Dwarf Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon Japonicus ‘Nanus’)
This is a specialized type of Mondo Grass. It grows to only around half the size of the other species in this family (around 2 – 4 inches). Dwarf Mondo Grass will have more slender leaves that give it a more petite look. You can also expect this type to not be easily affected by weather and animals.
What you will love is how easy it is to take care of, its aesthetics, and the expansive area it can cover.
Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon Planiscapus ‘Nigrescensan)
This type of Mondo Grass will surely get the biggest response from guests. Just like its name implies it is a darker shade than what you’ve come to think of grass. It is slow to spread as it needs to branch out from stolons under the surface of the ground. Black Mondo Grass flourishes in full sun (or part shade) and needs to be watered routinely.
Black Mondo Grass is considered a rare type due to its dark leaves. It can grow to 10 inches high and blooms in the summer months. You should expect the leaves to start out with a green color and turn to its dark shade once it’s more established. It will also remain evergreen during warmer winters as well.
This is the type you’ll come to expect when you hear Mondo Grass – Ophiopogon Japonicus is the most common type of this grass.
It has an average height of 6 to 10 inches but has been known to be as tall as 12 inches. The great thing about this species is that it grows upwards of 15 inches wide per plant. This allows the area to remain weed free, significantly reducing the time and effort you need to spend in that area of your yard.
You’ll also be happy know that this Mondo Grass is resilient and can be grown in shaded areas.
Ideal Mono Grass Growing Conditions
Mondo grass is ideal in that it requires very little maintenance. For this reason, it is an ideal plant to grow in areas that are difficult to reach such as along steep slopes, flower beds and under trees.
It is important to note that Mondo grass really only grows well in USDA zones 7 – 11.
While this type of plant flourishes best without full sun exposure it is also drought resistant making it a great option for those who don’t spend a lot of time watering their garden.
Mondo grass is incredibly passive to grow which makes it a favorite amongst many gardeners. Little needs to be done in order to keep this plant looking its best. Simply remove any weeds as they come up and water occasionally during dry warm weather. In the springtime, you will want to trim back any ragged leaves to help your plant looking at its best.
Yearly you may want to add a small amount of diluted complete fertilizer. This will help to keep the plant growing at its best. Maintenance only really comes every couple of years. We recommend you dividing the clumps of this flower every 3 or so years.
Any good gardener will want to know the different pests that may be interested in their plants. Snails and slugs may become an issue to this type of plant. This plant rarely poses any disease threat but can at times form fungal issues. This is due to prolonged wet, warm periods. The results of this are not serious.
How To Grow And Propagate Mondo Grass
Mondo Grass is one of the easier plants to grow and propagate. This can be done by purchasing seeds or pre-grown plants from your local plant store. The biggest task you’ll have is keeping weeds from overtaking the area you’re planting in. A key way to combat this is by using straw or wood mulch in the areas directly surrounding your plants.
We find this to be a more natural way of combating weeds rather than using pesticides. Be sure to rid the area of weeds (even small ones) before adding your layer of straw or mulch. This will deter weeds from poking through.
- When to Plant: Ideally you will want to plant your mondo grass in early spring following the last frost. It is possible to plant later in the season as long as you provide enough time for your plant to establish before frost sets in.
- Where to Plant: Shaded and partial sun conditions are ideal for this plant but it can tolerate full sun as well. If planting in full sun be sure to water thoroughly following transplant. Work the area up using a rototiller. Mixing in roughly 2-3 inches of compost will produce the best results. Mondo grass grows well in containers or in garden beds.
- Soil Type: Planting in slightly acidic soil is best for mondo grass.
- Planting Depth: Make note of the depth your plant was growing in when in the cell pack and replicate that when transplanted to your garden.
- Spacing: This depends on desired coverage. Planting 3-4 inches apart is ideal for those who want full coverage. Sticking to 6-8 inches apart is ideal when going for a cleaner look.
- Feeding: Be sure to use an organic fertilizer before planting. Following the initial planting, a light use of diluted organic fertilizer every spring for the first few years of planting is ideal to keep your plant looking healthy.
Mondo Grass Lawns
This type of plant has many uses. While often times people use mondo grass as an accent piece in many different types of garden arrangements, their use goes far beyond simply that.
As this plant is incredibly resilient, they make a very good ground cover for large areas too. Using mondo grass as a turf lawn replacement is a popular option, especially in areas with a more desert climate.
If you are looking for an alternative to turf, Mondo Grass is what you’re searching for. Just like regular grass, it will remain green all year while adding a unique touch to your yard.
Not only does this plant look great but are also incredibly easy to grow and maintain. Mondo Grass also grows slowly so you can tame it and reroute it where you want it.
Planting Dwarf Mondo Grass (with Video)
Dwarf Mondo is a low maintenance, shade tolerant, and drought resistant grass substitute. It’s a great choice for heavily shaded areas where other grasses can’t grow. Or, in steep slopes where mowing is difficult. We’ll show you how to use the ProPlugger to plant Dwarf Mondo grass from trays, or transplant it from areas that are already established
Watch the video or follow the directions below
Step 1: Dig planting holes 6″ apart
- Dwarf Mondo is a slow spreader so take that in consideration when deciding how far apart to plant it.
- Planting Dwarf Mondo 6″ apart should allow for full coverage in 2-3 growing seasons.
- Planting it closer together will provide quicker coverage.
Step 2: Planting Dwarf Mondo from trays
- Plant the full cell size plugs, or divide up the smaller plants within the tray
- In this instance, I’m cutting the plugs in half.
Step 2: Transplanting Dwarf Mondo from an established area
- Take plugs every 3″ apart
- Use the 4″ depth ring to harvest plugs (4″ deep)
- Plant the Dwarf Mondo plugs into transplant area.
Step 3: Water the Dwarf Mondo plugs
- Keep the soil moist for 2 weeks.
- I’m watering this area several times a day for the first 2 weeks.
- You may have to water more or less frequently depending on your climate, shade, or soil type
- Water twice a week for the first growing season.
- Watering more frequently helps the Dwarf Mondo grass get established and begin to spread.
- Save time by using a timer and sprinkler
Step 4: Watch the Dwarf Mondo Grow
- The Dwarf Mondo may take 2-3 years to fill in.
Read this article for additional detailed information on planting Mondo Grasses.
Summary of some of the important points:
When to plant Dwarf Mondo
- Best in early spring, but can be planted in the summer through early fall so that the plugs can root in before winter sets in.
Where to plant Dwarf Mondo
- Shady areas where lawn grasses struggle to grow. Mondo grass can also tolerate near full-sun.
- Areas too steep for mowing (it only needs mowing once a year)
- Grows in USDA zones 6-11
- Drought resistant once established.
- Does not tolerate heavy foot traffic.
- Thrives best with well drained soil
Preparing to plant Dwarf Mondo
- You must kill the existing grass or weeds. This can be done with or without herbicides.
- The brand name is Round-Up, but there are many formulations.
- I use Hi-Yield Killzall
- Follow the directions on the label for mixing and spraying.
- Spray it, wait a week, spray it again, wait a week, and it’s ready for plugging.
- This link follows another method which takes more time, but is more effective.
- It’s important to note that Glyphosphate kills the visible grass and weeds, but not seeds.
- This method will also kill any visible grass and weeds, but not seeds.
- Solarizing involves tilling, watering, and then covering the area with clear plastic during the summer for at least 4 weeks. This is a more involved process but comes with the added benefit of killing seeds in the ground.
Weed control after planting the Dwarf Mondo grass
- Apply straw or wood mulch in between plants to suppress weed growth while the plants are young.
- Pick out the weeds that do emerge by hand.
- Wait until after rain or watering to pick weeds
- They come out much easier when the soil is moist.
- Post-emergent herbicides (these herbicides are designed for broadcast spraying but can still be slightly harmful to new plants so avoid direct hits if possible).
- Pre-emergent herbicides
- Most pre-emergent herbicides can be used with Dwarf Mondo grass (shows you which ones)
- Use with caution on newly planted plugs.
- They can slow new root growth, and young plants are the most vulnerable to this.
- You can lessen the risk for young plants by spraying in between the plants.
Dwarf Mondo grass only requires light fertilization.
- Annual top-dressings of 1/2 inch of compost.
- This is preferred because it provides nutrients and helps the plants spread faster.
- Organic fertilizer: Apply lightly through spring and summer.
- Inorganic fertilizer: Use an all purpose controlled release formulation and apply lightly through the spring and summer.
Disease and Pest Problems
Like many groundcovers, Dwarf Mondo grass is rarely plagued by disease and pest problems. Though information on some common pests can be found in this link
Mowing Dwarf Mondo
- Some recommend mowing once a year to increase the rate of spreading (but this is debatable).
- Don’t mow too low.
- Dwarf Mondo grass can be damaged by scalping.
Be sure to check out other uses for the ProPlugger on our website including:
- Lawn Plugging
- Bulb Planting
- Soil testing
- Planting annuals