Mondo GrassOphiopogon japonicus
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Mondo Grass is a shade-loving grass-like ground cover that creates a beautiful carpet of narrow, rich-green leaves all year round. It can be used to replace grass in shady spots, to edge beds and pathways, and it is an essential component of Japanese gardens, planted beside rocks and water features, or in any shady corner. It grows from zone 7, and often survives in sheltered spots in zone 6 as well. In warmer areas it is completely evergreen. In summer short spikes of whitish-lavender flowers will be seen, and these become blue-black berries in fall, adding interest. This easily grown plant has so many uses around the garden, and adds a richness and completeness to your planting, in any style of garden.
Mondo Grass will grow in any well-drained soil, preferring damper soils, but tolerating some dry periods too. It grows from full sun to full shade, preferring shade in hotter areas. In sunny areas the soil needs to be constantly moist for best growth. This plant has no pests or diseases, and it is easy to grow with almost no maintenance required at all. In colder areas it may turn yellow in winter, so simply cut back the foliage in early spring, and fresh, new, rich green leaves will soon return.
It used to be that anywhere in the garden without shrubs or flowers was covered in lawn. This was done even in areas where grass does not grow well, so every garden inevitably had areas of bare earth, especially in shady spots. Today we rely on a wide range of ground-cover plants to fill these spots with green, and they do that beautifully, without even needing mowing. In zone 6 or higher, if you have shady areas, especially ones that are damper soil, a wonderful way to fill those spaces with lush greenery is to plant Mondo Grass. This easily-grown plant thrives in partial or full shade, and it grows well in damp or wet soil. Established plants will tolerate some drought too, making this an easy plant to grow, and the perfect choice for shady spots.
Mondo Grass is a small plant, reaching 12 inches tall, forming a clump about the same distance across. It has narrow, deep-green leaves that densely cover the ground. These are a little less than ½ an inch wide, and 8 to 15 inches long, arching over at the tips. They have a smooth glossy surface and straight sides. The tip is rounded. This plant spreads slowly by underground roots, but it is not invasive, instead forming dense areas that do not leave space for weeds to grow or earth to show. In summer short spikes of pale-lilac bell-shaped flowers, each about ¼ inch across and hanging downwards, grow among the leaves, and by fall these become clusters of deep blue ¼ inch berries that later turn almost black. You may need to look a little for these flowers and berries, but they are very interesting, and worth the search. These flowers show us that this is not a true grass, but is a member of the Lily family, related to Liriope, (e.g. Variegated Lily Turf), Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant), and lily-of-the-valley.
Mondo Grass has many uses around the garden. Plant it in clumps among other shade loving plants. Use it alone in drifts to cover areas large or small with rich green. In a smaller garden it is ideal for edging a pathway, or bordering beds of shrubs. Grow it around mature trees, where few other plants will grow. Plant it between paving stones to soften that hard look. Mondo Grass is widely used in Japanese gardens for edging, around ponds and water features, below lanterns or rocks, or in pockets by steps. It is also used in dish-gardens and in pots with larger bonsai trees. It looks equally at home in a cottage woodland garden or a modern courtyard. If you have trees in planter boxes, use Mondo Grass to cover the soil below, creating a richer look and more interesting containers, for no extra work.
Once you start to use this plant, and discover how useful it is, you will be growing it everywhere. It looks especially effective growing as an edging to plantings of lighter-foliage plants, like hydrangea, or below gardenia bushes. To create a groundcover, plant between 6 inches apart for a quick cover to develop, or at 10-inch spacing if you don’t mind waiting a little longer for the bed to fill. In poor soil use an organic mulch in spring, spreading it between the plants, to encourage stronger growth. After a few years of growth, you can lift a clump and split it into many plants, finding novel places in your garden to grow it.
This plant grows from full sun to full shade. In warmer areas it does best in partial or full shade, with shelter from the hot afternoon sun. It will grow in most kinds of soil, and it prefers moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils. Once established it will tolerate some dryness, but regular watering is preferred. It has no pests or diseases and need almost no care to thrive. It grows well in zone 7 and can also survive in sheltered spots in zone 6. In these zones the leaves will yellow in winter. In zone 8 or warmer it is completely evergreen. If the leaves yellow, simply cut it back in early spring, by hand or with a mower set high, and new leaves will quickly grow up to restore that beautiful carpet of green.
Mondo Grass, Ophiopogon japonicus, grows naturally in woodlands and beneath trees in Japan. It has been used for centuries in their gardens, and probably came to America in the 19th century, when so many Japanese plants were introduced. Our plants are grown by division of superior, healthy forms and they will quickly establish and become dense clumps of this attractive plant. The trends of ground-cover plants, Japanese gardens and container gardening all come together in this versatile and useful plant, so the demand is always high. Order now while our top-quality plants are still in stock.