Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Black Mondo Grass
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'

Family: Asparagaceae
Genus: Ophiopogon (oh-fee-oh-POH-gon) (Info)
Species: planiscapus (plan-ih-SKAY-pus) (Info)
Cultivar: Nigrescens
Additional cultivar information: (aka Ebknizam, Black Dragon, Arabicus, Ebony Knight )

Synonym:Mondo planiscapum

16 vendors have this plant for sale.

26 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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9 positives
10 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral Saulamus On Mar 14, 2015, Saulamus from Wellington, CO wrote:

Just a note concerning region, this plant does quite well in zone 5b. The nursery in Fort Collins keeps these in a cold frame all winter, covering them only when the temp is supposed to drop into the negative teens. I've put several in the barrels on the north side of my house, so we'll see how well they fare throughout the year.
They're the front drop for Rocky Mountain Blue Columbines (Aquilegia caerulea), and hopefully some Orange Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) behind the columbines. Not sure if the latter will get enough sun, but we'll see. If so I will have something blooming in front for most of the season and most of them butterfly and bee friendly.

Positive marino760 On Aug 8, 2013, marino760 from Victorville, CA wrote:

This plant makes a very unique conversation piece for containers or small areas of shade or semi-shade. I've never seen a plant as totally black as this one is. It's slow growing but the rewards are worth it. I bought a one gallon plant many years ago and have moved twice during that period, digging it up and taking it with me each time. It spreads through it's roots and each year I have more and more of it. The new plants are easily transplanted and have never disappointed. Even the tiny, waxy flowers are interesting and showy and stand out nicely against the black foliage.
If you're looking for a ground cover to spread and cover a large area, keep looking as this is not the right plant for that situation. If you're looking for an unusual plant for containers or a small semi-shady spot in your garden, this will impress you.

Positive magicalthinking On Sep 10, 2012, magicalthinking from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

It is now mid September (zone 9b), many black seed berries which I snipped and planted in a planter..slow growing but uniquely elegant and contrasts with white small annuals

Neutral poisondartfrog On Sep 22, 2010, poisondartfrog from Barbourville, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Visually striking but slow growing. I use it in containers adding different white flowering annuals every year; sometimes white impatiens, white Angelonia, white verbena. It grows in sun and part shade, but in deep shade the black color loses depth.
Seeds are in blue/purple "berries" that develop in fall.

Neutral ragman51 On Jun 19, 2010, ragman51 from Macon, GA wrote:

My local Lowes currently has this plant in 2.5 L pots for just under $9 each - seems expensive(??). Many clumps in bloom with small white flowers. I want to try it as a border plant in deep shade areas. We'll see.

Positive jawharpqueen On Apr 23, 2007, jawharpqueen from San Francisco, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Black mondo grass looks so nice popping out of bright white alyssum. Alyssum is low enough that it doesn't cover the black mondo grass. It has spread slowly but surely for me here in San Francisco -- I really like it.

Positive bluespiral On Sep 29, 2006, bluespiral from (Zone 7a) wrote:

Those little black "whiskers" certainly fill up a low, flat "plain" in a small area with delicate finesse. The flowers show up as dainty pearls irridescent with the faintest blush of pink. The "mountain" in our tiny "plain" is a low Japanese lantern. I need to adjust the neighboring jungle of uncouths to the character of this wonderful plant.

Yes, this plant is expensive. As mentioned above, just break off the berries a couple of weeks before your ground totally freezes for good and stick 'em in the ground. They will germinate late next spring and be about 90% true to the parents in having those black leaves (Perhaps there's a larger window of time to sow those berries; I've just mentioned what we do that works).

Negative CastIronPlant22 On Dec 11, 2005, CastIronPlant22 from Lompoc, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

When i grew this plant, i was very disapointed. It was very very slow and it was 12.99 for a one gallon. I kept it dry, in sun and it never seemed to look good. After having it in the ground for 4 months, i decided to move it. Well what i found was the roots were all rotten and the leaves were still good. I dont know what caused this plants roots to rot out, like i said, they werent over watered. I just see this plant as hard to grow. Plus the leaves looked great for all those months, then to find all the roots were rotted, i was very disapointed.

Positive sueone On Sep 21, 2005, sueone from Weymouth, Dorset
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant is in fact a member of the lily family, but is nearly always included in with grasses.

The leaves are evergreen, and make a good ground cover, creeping slowly, but never enough to be a nuisance.

The flowers are small and fairly insignificant, and these leave black seed heads.

Neutral darylmitchell On Jul 26, 2005, darylmitchell from Saskatoon, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

I grew this on a south-facing patio, and I love its black colour. Unfortunately it grows very slowly in this climate. I do like this plant but I doubt I will buy it again, as it is a very expensive annual.

Positive fluffygrue On Jul 12, 2005, fluffygrue from Manchester
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

I love this plant, but would recommend it more as a small specimen plant than groundcover, as it takes time to get going. It does clump nicely, its foliage is gorgeous, and it's low maintainence. Great plant.

Neutral vossner On Sep 18, 2004, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Agree with all neutral comments made here. Extremely slow and disappointing as a groundcover because it just doesn't fill up like the green and variegated varieties. Better used as specimen, IMO. Tried growing from seed; that was a joke. I haven't noticed a difference in growth rate of mother plant vs. runner, will pay attention. Having said all this, I will readily buy every rare chance I get.

Positive Kachinagirl On Jul 19, 2004, Kachinagirl from Modesto, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love this plant! It's worth waiting (and searching) for even though it is difficult to find, most likely because it is slow growing thus not as easy to propigate. How interesting that the "babies" seem to grow faster....I wonder if the parent plant is a tissue culture and why the "baby" would grow faster. Fascinating! I use this plant in groupings (planted fairly close) with Scotch Moss and other brightly foliaged plants...imagine it with Heuchera 'Amber Waves' and a pale-leaved Ajuga! It can usually be found through mail order nurseries if local nurseries don't carry it (click "Garden Watchdog" in the"DG Network" box...a great and helpful tool for finding vendors...Thanks Dave!)

Neutral jhyshark On Jul 16, 2004, jhyshark from Scottville, MI (Zone 4b) wrote:

I love the way this plant looks as an edging with almost anything... lamb's ear, things with pink blossoms, etc. But alas... it's not hardy here and I'm pretty useless with taking things in.

Positive lb1 On Apr 7, 2004, lb1 from Murphys, CA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I have been growing this plant since 2001 and have had great luck with it. It is an extremely slow growing plant, but it does send out "little babies" on runners. It seems that these grow a little faster than the "mother" plant has(?) I really don't think it would be a good groundcover because, besides the fact that it's slow growing, I think in an area large enough to need groundcover this plant would be disappointing because the black leaves(blades?) tend to get dirty and dull looking. I only have about 6 throughout my garden both in pots and in the ground and it's definitely one of my favorites.

Neutral knees On Apr 6, 2004, knees from Washington, DC (Zone 7a) wrote:

I grow a black Liriope and it is doing wonderfully. Not as tight and "cute" as the mondo grass, but still outstanding. I planted is mixed with the white varigated and it totally took over. Now I moved the white variety to glumbs adjacant, rather than inter-planted (my back yard in Wasington DC). I have the chance to go to the National Arboretum where they use mondo grass often and quite effectively.

Neutral msbabe On Apr 6, 2004, msbabe wrote:

Have just got hold of this plant, & so far, it's looking good... still in pot but have 5 of them to use. I'm in south east area of England so I believe it's quite new to this area. We get good sun & not too cold winters. The reports I've heard say that it thrives well here, so should like these conditions quite nicely.

Neutral suncatcheracres On Oct 29, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I've only seen this plant once, in a pot at a "rare plant" nursery in the Atlanta, Georgia area. I'm now sorry I didn't buy it then, because I've never seen it offered anywhere again. Perhaps because it is a very slow grower, and doesn't really "make a solid cover" as a groundcover, it is not being propagated by a lot of plant nurseries. I do have the regular green Mondo Grass growing as a border in front of a white azalea bush, but I would like the black type too.

I've read that the flowers of 'Nigrescens' are white, sometimes flushed pink, but in my experience most Liriope and Ophiopogon flowers, no matter the color, are difficult to see due to their being so small, and often growing down into the rosette of foliage. I've had success with picking off the ripe seeds of Liriope and immediately burying it where I wanted it to grow, and the next Spring I had a lot of little plants. Since these two genera are so similar, I expect you could do the same with Ophiopogon too.

Neutral dho1655 On Oct 28, 2003, dho1655 from Belvedere Tiburon, CA wrote:

This plant is deer resistant.

Positive Candycane On Sep 23, 2003, Candycane from Camberley, Surrey
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have just planted 'Nigrescens', black evergreen leaves, in my garden. It is said to have sprays of tiny pink flowers in summer, which I missed this year. I am, however patiently waiting for the shiny black berries promised in winter.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tucson, Arizona
Belvedere Tiburon, California
Crescent City, California
Folsom, California
Fresno, California
Livermore, California
Martinez, California
Mountain View Acres, California
Palo Alto, California
San Francisco, California
Temecula, California
Clifton, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado
Wellington, Colorado
Wilton, Connecticut
Boca Raton, Florida
Macon, Georgia
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Plainfield, Illinois
Corbin, Kentucky
Nottingham, Maryland
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
West Roxbury, Massachusetts
Cato, New York
Chesterland, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Hillsboro, Ohio
Painesville, Ohio
Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
Missouri City, Texas
Richmond, Texas
Springfield, Virginia
Bainbridge Island, Washington
College Place, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Spokane, Washington

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