Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens; my favorite plant in the garden this week…


Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens, that’s a mouth full! Even though I've finally mastered the tongue twisters Hakonechloa and Eryngium I prefer to call this fav by its much easier to pronounce common name Black Mondo Grass.

This is another one of those rock-solid plants that is just "there," always looking good and thus often taken for granted. It reliably blooms every summer but the flowers are nothing special…probably the flashiest it gets is right now when any seeds left on the plant turn a sort of metallic blue.

But those sleek black blades in your garden…who needs extra flash? They make everything look good.

I continue to be amazed by the price this plant commands in nurseries, fortunately it multiplies well (although it’s no thug) and is easily divided. If you buy any one plant chances are when you plant it you can split it into 3 or 4 plants right then.

My biggest splurge was 10 plants to line our sidewalk back in 2009. But those plants have grown and been divided over and over again to be planted elsewhere in my garden and given to friends.

I have it planted in full sun areas and shady places, here it gets sun from the early morning hours until late afternoon.

Whereas these plants are seeing full sun for the first time in months… shaded by a clump of Hackonechloa I just cut back you’ll notice a few of these blades are green. Hopefully they'll turn black eventually.

Where as these green blades are Liriope mixed with an expanding patch of Black Mondo, I like how this combo makes a simple good looking ground-cover off the edge of the patio (the golden blades are Hackonechloa I missed when cutting back the others)...

The Stats:
  • Hardy in USDA Zones 6a-10b
  • Eventual size 6” tall x 18” wide
  • Reportedly needs even moisture but in my experience once established it’s tolerant of some drought
  • Full sun to part shade, best color with sun

24 comments:

  1. Agreed! I can't believe how long it took me to get on board with this great groundcover. A friend gave me a pot of it two years ago, and now I have a lifetime supply!

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    1. So why did it take you so long Jane? Just didn't care for it? Too expensive? Too trendy?

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  2. I know this plant is listed as zone 6 but I have never been able to get it to grow in my garden (6a-b depending on who you believe). Wish I could because it would make some nice combos but it just sits there and slowly fades away. If it weren't so expensive I would be inclined to buy a bunch of it and try it all over the garden.

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    1. You are not alone Sue! I have a friend in Portland who would dearly love to grow this plant but claims she fails every time.

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  3. You're right(as always) this is a great plant! I'm with you on not understanding the high price, though.

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    1. "As always???" Can I quote you on that?

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  4. First time I saw this grass was in mass qtys at a Seattle area nursery...palettes of it...but I didn't like it then! Now, I'm trying to figure out where I can use it, without torturing it, seeing it happy there and in Denver. Great texture there w/ water droplets, but esp nice when you show it against greens...my mind now churning.

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    1. Water droplets are readily available in my neck of the woods...as is green. Can't wait to see how you use in ABQ, or elsewhere in the desert lands.

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  5. Such a reliable, tough, undemanding plant. It seems to do well anywhere you site it :)

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  6. At first I thought you were just making up a name. Then it sort of looked like a Harry Potter spell - ha! But, I too, love this plant. In fact I think I'll put it on my list of things to add to the yard this year.

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    1. I don't think I could ever make up a name that convoluted!

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  7. What is that plant in the background, in the upper left corner with yellow flowers atop stems of thin bluish leaves? Is it curry plant?

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    1. In the 6th photo? Euphorbia 'rigida' also a favorite plant!

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  8. I like it because it is one of those plants that plays well with others.

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  9. black mondo might be an all time favourite, ever!!! its a go to plant

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    1. Great minds Louis...as always...

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  10. How much blacker can a plant be? None. None more black.

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    1. Which makes it pretty cool right?

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  11. Lori- I think I have a G. x gaudichaudii knocking areound the back of the nursery. In my old garden I had one for 10 years- it was 14' across and spectacular, it had a 6" diameter trunk. It went away at 9ºF in 2009. What you really want is G. laurifolia- one of the parents of the hybrid and its hardier to cold and its virtually everblooming. Unfortunately, its notoriously difficult to root. I tried and failed on all counts. Sometime you can find 'Poorinda Royal Mantle'- its similar. I'm not sure about the hardiness. I'll set aside the x gaudichaudii so that we don't toss it.

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    1. Thank you!!! But who are you? I hope you find it who ever you are, and thank you again!

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  12. Funny, I showed this plant in my post about a local nursery yesterday. I also called it pricey because the one I showed was $19.99 for two small tufts in a gallon container. I love the color and would enjoy it in my garden, but I saw it growing in Austin on tour last fall and it didn't look that great so I have concerns about how well it does here. And at that price it had better work!

    Yours look awesome lining the walk.

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    1. Yes! Wow...the container you showed was very pricey for $19.99, that's horrible!

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