Black mondo grass
Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black mondo grass) is a small but dramatic ornamental grass with narrow, dark purple to black leaves.
The flowers are followed by shiny black berries. A slow grower, it takes the patience of Job to cultivate black mondo grass to its full glory, but the wait is definitely worth it. Plant size about 20 x 30 cm.
The ‘calming’ effect of mondo grasses makes them excellent fillers around accent plants such as cycads, and they are equally charming as border plants in the front of flower beds. In Eastern or Zen gardens, dwarf forms of mondo grass have reached icon status. They are equally at home in low maintenance gardens that sport large paved areas, providing welcome greenery amongst the pavers, and they are very good alternatives to a waterguzzling lawn. Raging winds and Mother Nature’s other vagaries have no effect on these plants. They are not assailed by pests and diseases, and they do not need much water. Another benefit is that you can walk over them without causing much damage, and if planted in place of lawn grass you don’t need to use a lawnmower to keep them in check. All you need to do is some dividing every few years, purely to increase your stock levels so that you can plant more somewhere else in your garden.
Most suitable climate
Mondo grasses suit all climates. They will grow more luxuriantly in warmer regions if they are planted in light to deep shade.
What they need
Location: full sun to deep shade.
Soil: any soil type is suitable, as long as compost has been worked into it.
Water: regularly and deeply. Twice a week in summer will be more than enough, unless it is excessively hot.
Fertilizing: adding compost and bone meal to the soil when planting should be good enough to keep the mondo grass happy, but if you prefer you can also fertilize in early spring, using a quick-working fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen.
In a nutshell
* Full sun to deep shade.
* Evergreen and always pretty.
* Can be divided in spring by digging up dense clumps and gently pulling them apart.