Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mondo Grass

Mondo grass planted in mass groupings makes a wonderful statement in your rock garden.

I'm not one for lawns here in the desert.  It's a waste of time and money.....and water!!!  However, it doesn't mean you have to give up grass altogether in your own yard.  The problem with the grasses is that they tend to dry up during the winter and if you're grilling in the yard, like we do, we need to be careful about igniting a grass fire on our plant away from grills or chimeneas.  Grasses can add structure to pots, planters, or landscape.  They always seem best singular or planted in repetition like the above picture.  While I have enjoyed growing a variety of grasses in the garden, I don't enjoy the fact that most dry up during winter.  So this summer, I experimented with Mondo Grass.  Many times this plant will be on shelves, and like magnolia trees, purchased right away. Mondo grass seems to do very well here and it stays green in the hot or freezing weather.  I purchased several pots and placed them around the property in different locations....shady, part sunny, and sun.  They did extremely well and all of them continue to grow.  After the freeze, these plants were still green and full.  They are slow growers and need water initially when first planted.  If you're looking for a reliable grass that stays green all year round, I highly recommend this variety.
It's described as a small ornamental grass to be planted in full sun. It's excellent ground cover and has few pests and diseases. Mondo grass will grow 3-10 inches in height and just as wide.

"Mondo grass is an ornamental plant used as groundcover in a garden or lawn. An alternative to turf grass, mondo grass is a low maintenance turf that never needs to be mowed and remains colorful all-year long. Its rich green color helps to provide definition, allowing the features of the garden to really stand out. While technically a member of the lily family, this evergreen plant, also known as monkey grass or ophiopogon japonicus, has the appearance of a lush, hardy grass with slender blades. The summer months mark the appearance of small, blue berries that blend in naturally with the plant’s green leaves. This ornamental plant is a popular choice for use along garden borders, between stones, and in flower beds. Mondo establish themselves rapidly and do well in most any type of soil. They are a perfect solution in areas where water conservation is necessary since they do not require a lot of watering and can easily withstand heat and drought. The plants are successful in full shade as well as in direct sunlight. Weed control is also quite simple, giving mondo a distinct advantage over traditional grasses. Mondo grass typically reaches a height of 6 to 10 inches (15-25 cm)."

When putting together the perfect Zone 9 plants, I had to consider a bunch of factors.  I wanted to list a variety of plants that survive our winters and hot summers while staying green all year round with little water or maintenance.  So far, I've listed a tree, a bush, and now a groundcover plant.  I'll list a vine for you tomorrow.  Common.  Aggressive. And a survivor in our Tucson extremes.  Stay tuned for more of the perfect Garden 9 plants......


  1. Very interesting post. It sounds as if you have some similar problems for gardens to what we have out here in Australia - except that where I live we also get very heavy rain for part of the year. So my garden plants must be able to withstand both the heavy rain and also times when it is very dry. I refuse to waste water on the garden. I only water to establish plants then they must be able to grow by themselves! Oh Yes, I have some mondo grass in my garden also.

  2. Actually, we also have heavy summer monsoon rains here so we are very similar to Australia!


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