Mondo Grass


  • Marjan Kluepfel, HGIC Information Specialist
  • Bob Polomski, Extension Consumer Horticulturist, Clemson University

Mondo grass, also known as monkey grass (Ophiopogon japonicus), is an evergreen, sod-forming perennial. The scientific name is derived from ophis = snake, and pogon = beard, most likely referring to the flower spike


Plants are tufted, grasslike and 8 to 16 inches high. The ½-inch leaves are dark green and fine to medium in texture. They are erect to arching, smooth and grasslike. The flowers are usually white or white tinged with lilac. Flowering and fruiting occur from July through September.

Mondo grass is quite often confused with liriope (Liriope muscari). However, the leaves of mondo grass are more narrow than those of liriope, the smaller flowers are hidden by the leaves, the fruits are blue compared to the black fruits of liriope and mondo grass is less cold hardy.

Landscape Use

Mondo grass is primarily used as groundcover. It is also attractive as a border along paths, between stepping stones or flowerbed and lawn, or in rock gardens. It grows well along streams and around garden ponds. Mondo grass competes well with the roots of other plants. Under trees or shrubs it makes an excellent shade-tolerant lawn that never needs mowing.


Mondo grass grows well in ordinary garden soil, requiring minimum attention once established. Plants thrive in filtered sun to full shade and prefer moist soil. The foliage is usually light green when plants are grown in filtered sun. Plants growing in the shade have dark green leaves.

Propagate by dividing large clumps. Be sure to include as many roots as possible and eight to 10 leaves on each section for planting. The plants are easily established and require little effort. The plants do not need heavy feeding. Mondo grass looks attractive year-round. However, the leaves may become ragged by late winter. Shear back the shaggy old leaves in early spring before new growth starts.


  • The cultivars ‘Aureovariegatus,’ ‘Variegatus’ and ‘Vittatus’ have longitudinally striped leaves with white or yellow and green stripes. The variable variegated foliage usually makes it difficult to distinguish one cultivar from another.
  • The cultivar ‘Caeruleus’ has dark green leaves like the parent species and violet blue flowers.
  • ‘Kioto’ or dwarf mondo grass grows only to about 4 inches high. Flowers are small, 2 to 3 millimeters long and light lilac to white.
  • ‘Nippon’ is very small (2 to 4 inches tall) and has whitish flowers in the summer.
  • ‘Gyoko-ryu’ is even shorter and more compact than ‘Nippon.’

Related Species

  • Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus) is an interesting introduction from England. The dark purple leaves appear almost black. The plants are about 6 inches tall. In South Carolina, black mondo grass should be planted in partial shade. Cultivars ‘Nigrescens’ and ‘Ebony Knight’ do not differ very much.
  • O. jaburan is coarser than O. japonicus, with light purple to white flowers. Plants grow 15 to 18 inches tall but are not as good a groundcover as O. japonicus.


A fungal disease known as anthracnose is the most common problem. Remove infected leaves and/or apply a recommended fungicide.

Resource(s): Ground Covers

Center Publication Number: 204

Care of Poinsettias


  • Nancy Doubrava, HGIC Information Specialist, Clemson University.
  • Bob Polomski, Extension Consumer Horticulturist.

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is the most popular flowering plant sold in the United States with more than 70 million sold nationwide each year. When South Carolinian Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, introduced the poinsettia to the U.S. in 1825, it’s doubtful he had any idea how popular this plant would become.


Plant breeders have produced cultivars with many other colors besides the traditional red bracts, or modified leaves. Plants are available with white, pink, peach, yellow, marbled and speckled bracts. The actual flowers of the poinsettia plant are the small, yellow blossoms in the center of the colorful bracts.


To help your poinsettia thrive in your home during the holiday season, follow these tips:

Light: Set your poinsettia in a bright location so that it receives at least 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day. Putting it in direct sunlight may fade the color of the bracts. If direct sun cannot be avoided, filter the sunlight with a light shade or sheer curtain.

Temperature: Excess heat will cause the leaves to yellow and fall off and the flower bracts to fade early. The daytime temperature should not exceed 70 °F. Do not put your poinsettia near drafts, excessive heat or dry air from appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts. Chilling injury is also a problem and can cause premature leaf drop if the temperature drops below 50 °F.

Water and Fertilizer: Poinsettias require moderately moist soil. Water them thoroughly when the soil surface feels dry to the touch. Never let the potting mixture completely dry out and never let the plant sit in standing water. When watering, always take the plant out of its decorative pot cover. Water until water seeps out of the drainage hole and the soil is completely saturated. Do not fertilize a poinsettia when it is in bloom.


Around March to April, when the colorful bracts fade, prune the plant back to about 8 inches in height. Although the plant will look bare after pruning, eventually new growth will emerge from the nodes up and down the stem. Keep the plant near a sunny window and continue to water it regularly during its growing period. You can take the plant outdoors once the night temperature remains above 50 °F. Fertilize the plant every two to three weeks during the spring, summer and fall with a well-balanced complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10.

In early June, transplant the poinsettia into a container 2 to 4 inches bigger than the original pot. Use a soil mix containing a considerable amount of organic matter, such as compost, leaf mold or peat moss. Pinch back the shoot tips or prune back the branches. Do not pinch back after September 1. When night temperatures become cool, 55 to 60 °F, bring the plant indoors to a sunny location.


Poinsettia plants can be brought back into flower next year, although this procedure is somewhat demanding. Poinsettia is a short-day plant, which means it needs a continuous long dark period each night to form its colorful bracts. Starting the first week of October (for an eight- to 10-week period) the plant must be kept in total darkness for 14 continuous hours each night. Keep the plant in darkness by moving it to a closet or covering it with a large box. During this period, the plant must also receive six to eight hours of bright sunlight daily. Depending on the response time of the particular cultivar, the plant will come into full bloom during November or December.


Pests that attack poinsettias are also common to many other plants. The most common insect pest is the whitefly. Other pests of poinsettia include mealybugs, soft scales and spider mites. Root rotting fungi can occur in overwatered or poorly drained soils. Several factors can cause premature leaf drop, such as temperatures dropping below 50 °F, poor light or poor nutrition. Keep the delicate colorful bracts well-protected from wind and cold rain.

Center Publication Number: 158