Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
Common Name: mondo grass
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asparagaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Best grown in rich, fertile, humusy, slightly acidic, moist but well-drained, soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers consistent and even moisture in soils which do not dry out. Not reliably winter hardy in the northern parts of USDA Zone 6 where it should be sited in a protected location. Plant foliage is evergreen in warm winter climates, but foliage may depreciate considerably in St. Louis winters. Turf-like clumps develop over time into a 12” tall ground cover which will spread somewhat indefinitely but slowly to 12” wide or more. Propagate by division.

‘Nigrescens’ develops best black foliage color in sunny locations. For growth as a ground cover, plants are best spaced 4” apart.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ophiopogon planiscapus, commonly called mondo grass or lily turf, is a tuberous-rooted, often stoloniferous, grass-like perennial of the lily family. It typically grows in slowly spreading clumps to 8-12” tall. It is native to Japan. This is a stemless plant that features narrow, linear, deep green, basal leaves (to 3/16” wide) which appear in arching, slowly-spreading clumps rising to 8-12” tall. White, 6-tepaled, bell-shaped flowers (to 1/4” long), often tinted with lilac, bloom in summer in racemes located atop leafless stems which rise above the foliage clump. Flowers are followed by globular, pea-sized, glossy dark purple berries.

Genus name comes from the Greek ophis meaning snake and pogon meaning beard.

‘Nigrescens’, commonly called black mondo grass or black lily-turf, is most noted for producing narrow, linear, grass-like, blackish-purple leaves (to 3/16” wide) which appear in arching clumps rising to 6-8” tall. Clumps are somewhat shorter than those of species plants. Leaves appear almost black in many lighting situations. This cultivar may have the blackest foliage of any perennial. White, bell-shaped flowers (to 1/4” long) with pink to lilac tinting bloom in summer. Globular dark purple berries mature in fall. ‘Nigrescens’ is sometimes sold in commerce under the names of O. p. ‘Arabicus’, O. p. ‘Black Dragon’, or O. p. ‘Ebony Knight’ which are generally considered to be synonyms.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Winter hardiness in the St. Louis area is a concern.

Garden Uses

Low-maintenance, ornamental, grass-like ground cover for shady areas. Primarily grown for its tufts of grass-like leaves. Beds, border fronts, edgings and rock gardens. Streams and pond margins.