Mondo Grass

Ophiopogon japonicus

  • Great lawn alternative in shade; provide fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Clusters of flowers close to the leaves.
  • Dwarf form also available; do not plant near preserves.
  • Needs even moisture so not suited for rain gardens.
  • Cut back in winter if needed.

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-petaled, 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 grown for its tufts of grass-like leaves.

Despite its name, this is more of a Lily-like plant than a true grass. It is the traditional groundcover of the Japanese garden, planted at the base of pagoda lights and stone basins. A fine groundcover that stays small, it’s perfect for entry gardens, courtyards and atriums. Very good as an edge plant for water gardens or arranged at the base of fountains. Plant in small clusters or as a large, irregular shaped mass in Asian gardens. Great for geometric layouts in postmodern and tropical schemes.


Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nanus’

Dwarf Mondo Grass – This dwarf variety, only half the size of others, creates a lush groundcover of dense, dark green grass-like clumps. Excellent as an edging plant or tucked into rocks for a pleasing contrast. Striking in mass plantings in the landscape. Evergreen.

Common Names:  Japonica, Lilyturf, Monkey Grass, Kyoto