A first-class ground cover, mondo grass looks like a lush grass and pleases the eye-especially dark-foliaged types, such as ‘Nigrescens'. In summer, the plants send out spikes of white or pinkish flowers. Though it looks like a grass, mondo grass is not in the grass family-instead, it is in the lily family and is closely related to liriope (lilyturf).
- Common name: Mondo grass
- Botanical name: Ophiopogon spp.
- Zones: 6 to 10
- Size: To 12 inches tall
- From: Areas of Asia
- Family: Liliaceae (lily family)
- Sun: Full sun to partial shade
- Soil: Moist, well-drained soil is best.
- Moisture: Water in times of drought.
- Mulch: Lay a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch over the soil around the plants to suppress weeds and conserve soil moisture. Use winter mulch only after the soil has frozen.
- Fertilizer: Fertilizer is generally not necessary in soils that are rich in organic matter. If desired, use a balanced fertilizer in spring.
- Division: Division is easiest on the plant during spring or autumn, though it is possible any time the soil isn't frozen.
- Seed: Sow seed in the garden or in a cold frame in autumn. Note: Named types-such as those with variegated or nearly black foliage-usually do not come true from saved seed.
- Rot: To deter rot and other fungal diseases, avoid wetting the foliage in the afternoon and evening and thin the plants to provide better airflow.
- Slugs/Snails: Slugs and snails tend to eat at night, chewing up leaves. They leave slick, slimy trails behind the next morning. To deter slugs and snails, surround plants with a ring of horticultural grade diatomaceous earth or slug baits. Some people have found success with laying copper strips around plants, but this does not work for everyone. If slugs and snails are not particularly numerous, set out shallow containers of stale beer at ground level. Slugs and snails, attracted to the beer, crawl into it and drown.
- Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Blue Bird': Dwarf form to only 3 inches tall. Dark-green leaves. Zones 7 to 10.
- Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Silver Dragon': Selection that grows to about 12 inches tall and has white variegation on the leaves. Zones 7 to 10.
- Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Torafu': Variegated form with yellow bands that run across the leaves, not along them. Plants to 6 inches tall. Zones 7 to 10.
- Ophiopogon ‘Little Tabby': Selection with narrow, dark green leaves striped with creamy white. Plants to 8 inches tall. Zones 6 to 9.
- Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens': Selection that has dark, purplish-black leaves and grows to about 8 inches tall. Zones 6 to 10.