Mondo grass (Ophiopogon Japonicus and other species) in all of its varieties has been one of the favourite low to medium growing grasses or ground cover plants with landscapers for a number of years.
Although most used widely as a ground cover it is also suited for planting between pavers (see picture right) as well as for use as an edging plant. With its green or black strappy leaves, this is a low maintenance easy care plant.
Loved by landscapers for its ‘low care’ characteristics and the fact that it grows in shade. This is one of the few ornamental grasses that will reach its best height and stop.
This is a strapped leaf plant that is available in the common green form, black as well as a variegated form that is a little more difficult to find.
With a number of varieties available ranging from mini mondo to taller cultivars you can select a height of between 30cm tall to around 10cm.
A number of varieties are available for sale from participating nurseries including :
- Ophiopogon japonicus the common variety. Dark Green Foliage to 10 -15cm
- Ophiopogon japonicus var. nanus a dwarf variety . Dark Green Foliage to 5cm
- Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Kyoto-dwarf’ ( ‘Gyoku-ryu’) or ‘ super dwarf’. Dark Green Foliage to 2-3 cm
- Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Silveredge’ a new cultivar with silvery foliage best suited for shade areas. Foliage to 15 cm
- Ophiopogon jaburan ‘Variegatus’, or aztec grass. Nice variegated foliage.
- Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens‘ or Black Mondo Grass 25cm, deep purple to near black foliage, contrasted by lilac pink flowers in summer followed by small deep red berries.
- Ophiopogon jaburan ‘Evergreen Giant’ a larger clumping form growing to 30cm
- Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘haku ryu’
Mondo Grass Care
This is an ornamental grass that requires little care, although it does not like frost so plant in frost free areas. All varieties prefer a moist but well drained soil and actually do better in part shade than full sun.
Best grown in an open free draining loamy soil which allows easy natural root growth and therefore faster establishment of good sized clumps. Soil does need to be able to retain some moisture, so prepare well by adding some well rotted compost before planting.
Mulch around individual plants and water in with a liquid seaweed fertilizer when planting.
Annual Top dressing of with an organic compost will help promote growth. A slow release fertilizer is best.
Mondo grass works well as an underplanting for small shrubs in containers, it does require a good quality potting mix to thrive.
Summary Growing Conditions
- Position – Full sun to part shade. The warmer the climate the more shade.
- Watering – Once established, Mondo grass is reasonably drought tolerant. Best watered through the first summer and again during long dry periods especially when in full sun.
- Soil – This is a grass that tolerates a range of soil conditions as long as drainage is good. Performance and growth rate will be better in good soils.
- Fertiliser – In good soils little fertiliser is required, an application of a slow release fertiliser each spring in generally adequate.
- Propagation – This is a clump forming spreading grass and can be propagated by division, best in early spring. Propagation from seed is also possible.
- Dwarf Mondo Grass
Dwarf species such as Ophiopogon japonicus var. nanus and ‘Kyoto-dwarf’ will be longer than a normal”cut lawn’
- Mondo Grass as a Ground Cover
As a ground cover Mondo Grass is usefull in preventing weed growth
- Planting Mondo Grass
Best planted in late winter. Seperate into individual plants and make sure that the roots are adeqautely covered with soil. Water in well/
- Mondo Grass Spacing
Larger growing species can be planted 20 – 30 cm apart. Dwarf Species 7-10 cm apart.
Mondo Grass Alternatives
- Themeda australis var. Mingo
- Dichondra repens
- Lomandra filiformis
- Dianella longifolia
- Dichelachne crinata
- Liriope muscari