This Month's Color in the Garden September 2017: Feature Plant-Black Mondo Grass

This Month’s Color in the Garden
Welcome to This Month’s Color in the Garden! It’s September and the feature color is black. Black is a rare and unusual color in the garden, but is exquisite when mixed with the right combination of plants. Although there are no truly black flowers or foliage, some varieties appear black due to the deepness of the purple or burgundy hues within them. Black blooms or foliage can bring interest and drama to the landscape when used properly. One plant in particular, which is known for its striking black foliage, is Black Mondo Grass. Mondo Grass is actually not a grass, but rather a member of the genus Ophiopogon, a genus of evergreen perennial plants native to India, China, Japan and Vietnam. Black Mondo Grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ is considered a ground cover that grows to approximately ten inches tall and slowly spreads to about two feet in width. Foliage emerges as dark green in spring and matures to a deep purplish-black by summer. Black Mondo Grass is hardy in zones 6-10.

Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ )

Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ produces spikes of small light pink-white bell shaped flowers in mid-summer, followed by small black berries. Mondo Grass prefers to be grown in full to partial shade in a well-drained, slightly acidic soil. In cooler climates, Mondo Grass can withstand some sun. These plants can be propagated by division, best to be performed in early spring before new growth emerges. 

Black Mondo Grass and Golden Japanese Sedge (Photo Credit: Houzz Idea Books) 

To add that wanted interest and drama to the garden, combine Mondo Grass with other grass-like plantings such as Variegated Liriope, Golden Japanese Sedge and Golden Variegated Sweet Flag (as pictured above). Black Mondo Grass fits into a variety of garden styles, including container gardening, mass plantings and rock gardens. Mondo Grass is mostly maintenance free, except for an occasional feeding with a light fertilizer, or as mentioned, a division in spring. If desired, prune back old foliage in spring to tidy up the plant and promote new growth. 

Black Mondo Grass with Variegated Liriope in Backdrop

When discussing the color wheel and design, black, white and gray are not true colors (or hues) but are considered as neutral, achromatic colors. According to the language of flowers, the color black has been associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery throughout history. It denotes a feeling of strength and authority, and is considered to be formal, elegant, and prestigious. In the horticultural industry, plant developers have been working on hybridizing even darker varieties of plants due to the increased interest of using black in the garden. 

I hope you enjoyed This Month’s Color in the Garden for September. Please do share your experiences with the color black in your garden, whether it be with plants, hardscape or garden decor. Next, join me for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up on the 15th! See you around the garden!

As Always…Happy Gardening!

Author: [email protected] Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved