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PlantFiles: Black Mondo Grass
Ophiopogon planiscapus

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Family: Asparagaceae
Genus: Ophiopogon (oh-fee-oh-POH-gon) (Info)
Species: planiscapus (plan-ih-SKAY-pus) (Info)

Synonym:Mondo planiscapum

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

19 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Category:
Perennials

Height:
6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

Spacing:
9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Hardiness:
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

Danger:
Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Violet/Lavender
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Foliage:
Evergreen
Dark/Black

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

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

Patent Information:
Non-patented

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

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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There are a total of 14 photos.
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Profile:

8 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Neutral coriaceous On May 30, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The species is green. The cultivars, 'Nigrescens' and 'Arabicus', have black foliage. They are very slow growing, which is why they are so much more expensive than the green.

Positive Holeygloves On May 30, 2014, Holeygloves from Ridgefield, CT wrote:

This is the third summer for my three black mondo grass plants. Two of them have stayed black, bloomed and gone to seed, and maybe doubled in size to a 6" X 12" mound. Last summer the third grew a bit more than the other two and the fresh growth started out green and then darkened. This summer, this one plant is going gangbusters. It has grown to 30" tall and is green. What is up?

Positive BellaMB88 On Sep 23, 2011, BellaMB88 from Camarillo, CA wrote:

I've had several of these growing for a few years in full to light shade. Haven't noticed any flowers yet, but the leaves are great and the plants are beginning to multipy. Another plus is that the rabbits don't seem to like them, unlike the dwarf green mondo salad bar.

Positive njblondie On Jun 3, 2011, njblondie from Dunellen, NJ wrote:

I have this grass around the front of my pond. It stands out with all the other grasses I have. It grows better in full sun than shade. It is expensive but I found it at Home Depot and Lowes in the summer in small pots...it multiplies fast. I have not have any insect problems at all. The purple flowers are awesome.

Neutral vossner On Feb 8, 2009, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I grow the black, reg. green, dwarf green, and variegated. The black is the slowest and sluggish performer for me. I hoped to have a ring of black mondo around the base of an oak tree and it was so uncooperative, I am now yanking it off and putting clumps here and there in planters hoping it will do better. I guess what bothers me most is that for being the worst performer, it was the priciest.

Positive Ficurinia On Feb 7, 2009, Ficurinia from Portland, OR wrote:

Even though this plant is a little expensive, it does grow well and spreads within a year or two. I grew them in different areas for a few years, then transplanted them this past fall into one area. I cannot wait to see what happens now! Easy to grow, and fun to mix with others.

Positive bluespiral On Jan 26, 2005, bluespiral from (Zone 7a) wrote:

We haven't had any slug, insect or disease problems with this plant in the four years we've been growing it. Following are a "gothic garden" built on this plant and my method of propagating it - as mentioned above, it's expensive.

The narrow-leaved, black mondo grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus 'nigrescens', makes eery, low, dark pools that are nice to nestle spooky sculpture in, or run around in streams connecting larger islands like "black flowered" forms of pennisetum, or for underplanting shady woody plants, especially those with sinewy, orange-ish bark (forms of stewartia, paper-barked maple, crepe myrtles come to mind) that echo the red tint in the ophiopogon's black leaves in winter.

There's a smaller, less-likely-to-flop form of white colchicum that could underplant this black ophiopogon with its alabaster flowers popping up through the black threads in late summer (or a later blooming white crocus).

There's something about box that adds a flavor of a lost, abandoned garden, so extending the theme of "structural bones" for a gothic garden, I would include that, too. Especially in a small garden, a "grove" of, say, 3 or 5 narrow, vertical columns of Buxus 'Graham Blandy' would inject just the right hint of something monolithic, ancient. There are other fastigate woodies that could be substituted for this particular sculptural effect.

When used for a garden's "bones", the woodies are just the right plants to double up for off-season interest, so perhaps some odd-numbered groups of low, mounding woodies placed on an outer verge, opposite the viewer, for a "cradling effect" could be winter-flowering Viburnum bodnantse 'Dawn', faced down with the dwarf quince 'Cameo' might be nice for winter posies (not black, but does summer have to know what winter does?). Black flowered hellebores would be wonderful underplanting for this group, perhaps around a bird bath.

A gothic garden also should have fragrant vines flinging about for creepy effects - I wouldn't leave jasmine out, although containing the horizontally wandering shoots of some can be quite a tussle, but worth it for the schnozz. Against dark, black leaves, the pale peach-apricot noisette hybrid, Desprez a fleur jaune (1830) - fragrant and always in bloom - would be something wonderful to walk under (farther north, there is a wild-ish, pale blush-pink rambler that repeats with fragrant clusters of single roses - just the right mood for this garden. It was bred not too long ago and is worth looking for.).

About propagation of Ophiopogon planiscapus 'nigrescens' - this plant is expensive. Here is how I multiply it in my garden:

I either poke the mature seeds in the ground among the "mother" plants or in a cold frame in late autumn, which is when I get around to it.

There probably could be more to it, but this allows me to outsmart my disorganized self. This method gives you far more plants in a shorter time than propagating by division would. A few seedlings will be green, but most will be black.

Negative lisettelarkin On Mar 6, 2004, lisettelarkin from Hartford, NY wrote:

Has anyone living in an area with Red Lily Leaf Beetle infestation tried to grow this plant? I have wanted to ever since I first saw it about 7 years ago; but it is so expensive I'm afraid to try for fear it will get eaten! (I suspect that if snails and slugs will eat it, the Lily Leaf Beetle will too.) I asked around at several nurseries and no one could give me an answer.

Positive suncatcheracres On Sep 5, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I've only seen this plant at a rare plant nursery in Peachtree City, Georgia, listed as 'Nigrescens,' and I was told it is a slow grower. It was also rather pricey, but a very dramatic looking plant. I have never seen it for sale in any other garden center, but if I ever do, I will certainly buy it, as I now have the perfect climate for it in northcentral Florida, zone 8b.

I'm currently growing Ophiopogon japonicus, the dark green "Mondo Grass" with light lilac flowers that are low and almost hidden among the leaves. Ophiopogon jaburan also has dark green leaves, but more upright white flowers--I'm looking for this one too!

Positive Karenn On Sep 5, 2003, Karenn from Mount Prospect, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I am able to grow this in my Zone 5A/4B garden on the south side of my home in a protected area. It's great - it multiplies - it flowers - and everyone wants it because it's so unusual around here!

Positive pleb On Sep 4, 2003, pleb from Plymouth,
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

Does well in pots in full sun or half shade provided it is not allowed to dry out. A plant full of interest due to it's unusual, blackish foliage.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Protect from snails and slugs. Plant at 8 inches interval. Divide in early spring.

Regional...

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

Anniston, Alabama
Mentone, Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tucson, Arizona
Benton, Arkansas
Bodega Bay, California
Brentwood, California
Camarillo, California
Grass Valley, California
Mountain View Acres, California
Murphys, California
Pittsburg, California
San Leandro, California
Temecula, California
East Hartford, Connecticut
Wilton, Connecticut
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Barbourville, Kentucky
Ellicott City, Maryland
Fallston, Maryland
Batesville, Mississippi
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Collingswood, New Jersey
Dunellen, New Jersey
Oaklyn, New Jersey
Brooklyn, New York
Boone, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
Garner, North Carolina
Mooresville, North Carolina
Cleveland, Ohio
Oregon City, Oregon
Portland, Oregon (3 reports)
Erie, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Sumter, South Carolina
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Duncanville, Texas
Lancaster, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Springfield, Virginia
Anacortes, Washington
Kenmore, Washington
La Conner, Washington
Lake Stevens, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Poulsbo, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Vancouver, Washington



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