Mondo grass is known for its low-growing habit that naturalizes among the garden to create a sea of dense, carpet-like tufts. Mondo grass propagates via rhizomes, or underground stems. Grown in a wide range of varieties, each with its own distinct size and growing requirements, mondo grass is an ideal plant to grow as a ground cover, container plant or along the front of borders and beds. Oftentimes, mondo grass prefers some shade, as prolonged full sun scorches or burns the foliage.
Ophiopogon Planiscapus "Nigrescens"
Ophiopogon planiscapus "Nigrescens," also referred to as black mondo grass, is a perennial grass variety with a running growth habit and moderate pace. The strap-like, shiny foliage of black mondo grass grows in small tufts, creating an attractive contrast with colorful plants. The summer-blooming, bell-shaped flowers on black mondo grass grow along the upright racemes and range in color from pink to pale violet and white. Following the flowers are the fleshy seeds that remain on the plant throughout winter. Black mondo grass grows best in full sun to part shade. It reaches a maximum height and width of 12 inches and is an ideal plant to grow in container plantings or lining a border or bed. Black mondo grass grows best in moist, well-drained soil and is suitable in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 6 to 11.
Ophiopogon japonicus has a moderate growth rate and fine texture. It grows 6 to 10 inches tall and in grass-like clumps or small mounds. The pale lilac to white flowers emerge in summer and are followed by the glove-shaped, blue fruit. As an evergreen, mondo grass retains its foliage color year-round to provide warmth to the garden, especially in winter. It grows best in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. Plant mondo grass in USDA zones 6 to 9.
Ophiopogon Japonicus "Gyoku-ryu"
Ophiopogon Japonicus "Gyoku-ryu," a type of ornamental grass, is a super dwarf mondo grass variety that grows no higher than 3 inches high. "Gyoku-ryu" has a spread up to 1 foot and forms a dense carpet of short, green, strap-like foliage. The tiny, pale purple flowers of "Gyoku-ryu" emerge in summer along the stalks but are often camouflaged by the foliage. As a groundcover, "Gyoku-ryu" naturalizes to produce dense mounds of color. It grows best in full to part shade and well-drained soil with medium moisture content. Mondo grass "Gyoku-ryu" is not tolerant of sun and grows best in USDA zones 7 to 10.