Ophiopogon japonicus 'Gyoku-ryu'
Common Name: mondo grass
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Asparagaceae
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 0.25 to 0.25 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Lavender
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Tolerate: Drought, Heavy Shade, Black Walnut

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. It is not reliably winter hardy in the northern parts of USDA Zone 6 where it should be sited in a protected location. Although rhizomatous, it spreads slowly. Plant foliage is evergreen in warm winter climates, but may depreciate considerably in harsh St. Louis winters. Turf-like clumps develop over time into a 12” tall ground cover which will spread somewhat indefinitely to 12” wide or more. Propagate by division.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ophiopogon japonicus, commonly called mondo grass, is an evergreen, tuberous-rooted, rhizomatous, perennial of the lily family. It typically forms an arching clump to 8-12” tall and as wide of narrow, linear, grass-like, dark green leaves (each leaf to 8-15” long and 3/16” wide). It is native to woodland areas in Japan and Korea. Foliage is similar to that of Liriope (also in the lily family), but leaves are narrower and more refined. Small, 6-tepaled, bell-shaped, white to lilac-tinted flowers (1/4” wide) bloom in summer in short racemes (2-3” long) atop leafless stalks. Flowers are followed by spherical, pea-sized, blue-black berries (1/4” across). Flowers and fruits are usually partially hidden by the foliage. This plant is ornamentally grown for its tufts of grass-like leaves.

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

Specific epithet means of Japan in reference to native habitat.

Gyoku-ryu’ is a dwarf mondo grass cultivar that forms a dense carpet to only 1-2” tall. Tiny, pale lavender flowers bloom on short stalks in summer, but are often hidden from view by the leaves.

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 of the landscape. Border foregrounds. Rock gardens. Path edger. Along ponds or streams. Interesting turf substitute which requires no mowing.