Monday, October 12, 2009

Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens

Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens, or Black Mondo Grass is one of my all-time favorite plants. Not only is it sleek, black, and virtually impossible to kill; it also spreads quickly and is extremely easy to divide. It’s happy (in my experience) in the sun or the shade, and it is evergreen (or should that be “everblack”?) What’s not to love?

What I don’t understand is why it is so expensive; it seems something that spreads so easily should be affordable! Right? Luckily I can rationalize the price by knowing that within the same season I will be able to divide it and get a couple of “free” plants. Or if it’s a massing I’m after I will just leave it and let it multiply. I am not the most confident of plant dividers; in fact I avoid it if at all possible. Some of my Canna Lilies would love to be divided, but I am afraid I’ll do more damage than good, so I ignore them. Not so with Mondo grass. All I have to do is identify the “clump” that I want to divide.I dig a bit (just a bit, the roots are pretty close to the surface) and pull the thick root that connects the clump to the mother plant out of the soil…
Cut it and it’s read to plant elsewhere! Easy huh? Even if you only get a short root, like this, it will be fine. Tough as nails this plant.
I’ve been filling this area with divisions from other plants.
Black Mondo grass has to be one of my top 10...if not top 5 favorite plants.


  1. I like it too, though I never see it here in Austin. Too hot, too dry? I'm not sure. Regular mondo grass is used in Austin from time to time, but it tends not to thrive. Liriope, however, performs wonderfully.

  2. Loree,

    I wish I was a real gardener like you. I seem to be painting now instead--every room from the downstairs hallway up. Miller Paint is selling quarts for $5 a pop--usually $12--until they come out with a new product, sometime soon I'm told (essentially a tinted primer that will sell for $5.) So, no gardening for me, but I could fix you up with any number of test colors...

  3. I too love Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' - it is teamed wwith HAkonechloa macra 'All Gold' for a wonderously contrasted plant combo. I love that it is so easily divided.... have to agree with the price..... a tad hefty but so well worth it whenever I glance in it's direction in the garden!

  4. Yep, that's definitely a cool grass

  5. Your garden style is not "my style" but I just love looking at your blog!

  6. Thanks for the primer on dividing, Loree. A happy plant I forgot to mention in my recent post is a striped mondo grass that's making babies. So now I know how to divide it!

    Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens...say that fast three times!

  7. I, too, have marveled at the way some plants that are easy to propagate hold their price point...must be the "coolness" factor. I'm loving your use (I would call it minimalist) of the mondo.

  8. Pam, that really surprises me! I would have thought it would be all over Austin. It really seems indestructible.

    Patricia, it seems the perfect time of the year for painting. I may be joining you soon! There is still much painting to be done around our house and since the rains have hit it seems nice to have an indoor project, or five.

    Teza, that is one of my favorite combos! Just perfect color pairing...

    Nicole, is Black Mondo available in the Caribbean?

    MTJ, thanks, glad you enjoy it!

    Jane, I don't think I could even say it correctly once.

    ricki, I must be the coolness factor!

  9. I can kill this plant, I've done it a couple times in the past, so the price tag does scare me off a bit. However, I got a bargain black mondo grass at means earlier this year ($5.99 or so I think, I know it was less than the usual $9 or $10), and grew it in a pot as you recommended, and it has done great. I'll be trying to divide it next year and hope to have more success stories. I think I could plant it under my little alpine collection, it would be pretty next to the gold needles of my chief joseph pine. I might even buy a few more if I can figure out the secret to keeping it happy in my yard.

  10. Buy one, get thousend

  11. I really love Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens, too. I have one living in a pot inside the house for I bet they wouldn't survive outside over the winter. Such a shame.

    Nice pictures and blog. : )

  12. its also my favorit plant, i am studying horticulture at college and its the first plant what name i memorised lol

    good blog!

  13. Hi all,
    I too love Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'. It's super cool. Last year I became a Master Gardener intern in King County (Seattle, Wa) and part way through that course, I needed to move my Black Mondo Grass. I was alarmed to see the bulbous growths on the root, and thought it might be nematodes or gall or something like that. I took it to the local nursery and learned that this is NORMAL for this plant. It is not sick at all. Interesting to know.


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