Sunday, September 3, 2017

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: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved

17 comments:

  1. I've used black mondo grass on a limited basis - I'd use it more if it wasn't so ridiculously expensive here. I trialed a "black" Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) this year but I've been disappointed with it. It didn't handle our early summer heat as well as other varieties; its flowers are far smaller; and the color reads more grayish purple than black.

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    1. It is pricey here too, so I have it in a low maintenance garden planter. It draws interest from visitors wondering what the black grass is.

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  2. It is pretty, especially when it is used in contrast other colors.
    Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Agree Lea. I think most like it because it is so unusual.

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  3. Thank you for coming by to share at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2017/09/inwardly-gazing-with-monochrome-eyes.html

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    1. Thank you for commenting and hosting Sue. Have a wonderful week!

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  4. Lee, you have a lovely blog full of valuable info about gardening. We had a little of the black Mondo grass years ago. Love the unique color. Thanks for your visit. I shall be back to read more of your wonderful posts.

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    1. I am glad to have found your wonderful blog Linda. Thank you for the kind words on my blog. I hope you find the information to be helpful.

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  5. I grew Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' in my last garden, and it spread itself around remarkably happily. I don't grow dark plants in my new garden as all the walls are black and I wouldn't see the plants against the black backdrop! I rather miss them - particularly Tulipa 'Queen of the Night'.

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    1. It is very dark, so it works great in a planter, or next to something golden. There is an alternate perennial with a behavior similar to Mondo Grass. Liriope Variegata is grass-like and exhibits green and yellow variegated foliage.

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  6. I use a lot of wrought iron trellises, garden furniture, and decorations. No black flowers though.

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    1. Wrought iron is a beautiful element in the garden. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Lee, to say honesty I do not like black color in the garden because most months of the year - from November to March - I see black gray and white colors in my garden.Therefore I grow golden globe tujas to see something another than black and gray in winter. But I like to photograph black wet trunks of trees with yellow leaves or colorful water lilies on the deep black water of pond.

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    1. I can understand that Nadezda. Black (or nearly black) plants need to be used correctly in a garden, and need to be complemented by something brighter. I use a lot of conifers in my garden for the same reason, color during the winter months.

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  8. I never thought about the color black in my garden! I love these lovely grasses.

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  9. I love grasses, Lee, and have several in my garden -- but not Black Mondo Grass that I'm not sure would be happy here in our mountain temperatures. The new zoning maps put us in Zone 6, but I don't believe that is correct for this location. I have wrought iron trellises and benches in black -- and lots and lots of white. P. x

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  10. Hmmm, perhaps I should try black mondo grass again. I didn't have much luck with it, but then again our soil is alkaline here.

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Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!

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