black mondo grass companion plants

6 Best Black Mondo Grass Companion Plants for Contrast-Rich Spaces

Sharing is caring!

Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) is one of the most interesting plants you can add to your garden. This type of ornamental grass produces dramatic black foliage that will strongly contrast any lighter-toned plants in your garden.

These grasses will only grow up to 8 inches tall and sometimes produce pinkish-white flowers followed by black berries.

These texture-rich plants are often used as a ground cover in gardens and can also be practical as borders alongside walkways.

On its own, black mondo grass can look a bit plain, but the plant can be accentuated by combining it with companion plants of contrasting colors like creeping jennies, coral bells, ivy geraniums, snow-in-the-summer, japanese sweet flag, or boxwoods. 

Let’s look at these companion plants and discuss creative ways to use them for more exciting landscapes. 

What to Grow with Black Mondo Grass

Black mondo should be grown next to bright companions because its dark color will make any other foliage species stand out even more. 

Plants can only live in harmony if they all have similar growing needs and if they receive enough nutrients. Pay attention to the growing requirements of all the plants you pair together to create a healthy and showy garden. 

Black mondo grass prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. These interesting perennials are not too drought-tolerant but can tolerate humidity and prefer moist soil. 

The evergreen grass grows well in light- to full-shaded positions, but it is best to plant them in partial sun because they will appear greener in shaded places. 

Here is a quick look at some companion plants for black mondo grass growing well in moist conditions with lots of direct sunlight.

Creeping Jennies

creeping jenny plants

Creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) is an ideal ground cover for black mondo grass because the vivid yellow or lime green foliage color will starkly contrast the black or dark green foliage of these ornamental grasses. The creeping plant will also make your plants more water-efficient because they will keep the sun from drying out your garden beds.

As with mondo grass, creeping jennies prefer lots of moisture and must be planted in full sun to partial shade. 

This plant is ideal for creating a vibrant green mat around the ornamental grasses, and they can look attractive as their vine-like branches spill over the edge of containers or large rocky boulders.

Coral Bells

If you want to create a garden filled with interesting colors or create a lovely contrast with your black mondo grass then you can grow them next to coral bells (Heuchera). The leaves of these black mondo companions come in vivid tones of lime green, chartreuse, yellow, peach, pinkish-red, purple, and copper. The bright foliage will look striking if grown right next to the spiky leaves of mondo grasses.

Coral bells are shade lovers but can also grow in partial shade with about 2 hours of direct sun. They need moist soil to survive but should be planted in well-drained soil so the root systems won’t start to rot.

It is best to select coral bell varieties that will form a stark contrast with black foliage plants. Copper, lime green, or reddish combinations will stand out much more than darker varieties like dark purple coral bell shrubs.

Ivy Geraniums

Ivy geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) will also look striking next to mondo grass. This evergreen perennial produces bright green foliage and vivid blooms in colors like red, pink, white, burgundy, and lavender, and there are even some with deep purple-black flowers.

These lovely vine plants dislike wet environments but thrive with frequent irrigation. They may grow in full sun, but in hotter climates, they should be grown in partial shade. Their leaves can scorch if they receive too much heat or direct sunlight.

Grow these vine plants against the backdrop of dark mondo grass for a striking look. With this type of pairing, the bright flowers of these plants are sure to stand out.



A row of snow-in-the-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) next to barriers of black mondo grass will create a yin-yang effect in your garden. These ground covers have light-toned silvery leaves and produce an abundance of tiny white flowers that make it look like it is snowing in the summer.

These flowers are quite flexible. They will grow well in well-drained garden soil, including sandy soil types. The flowers definitely require a lot of water, especially during the dry months.

These delicate evergreen shrubs can quickly spread by re-seeding and are easy to maintain.

If you pair it with black mondo grass, it is best to position these flowers in areas where they will receive the most sunlight because they might not flower as much in shaded areas.

Japanese Sweet Flag

Pairing different types of ornamental grasses in the same garden always tends to look attractive. Japanese sweet flag (Acorus gramineus) can be a good companion plant for black mondo grass to create gardens filled with movement and color. 

These perennials stand out next to black mondo grass because their foliage is yellow-green to white-green-toned. 

The vivid grasses can grow in full sun to full shade positions and love plenty of water or moist soil. This plant can even grow in shallow water or bogged conditions.

Japanese sweet flag is taller than mondo grass, with a maximum height of up to 30 inches. Because of its taller stature, growing it behind a barrier of contrasting black mondo grass is usually best.


boxwood bush

Boxwoods (Buxus) or box shrubs are ideal companion plants to grow among mass-planted black mondo grassscapes. Boxwood shrubs are evergreen, producing vivid green foliage with dense growth. These shrubs are easily trimmed into square or rectangular hedges or other shapes like spheres.

The perennial shrubs can grow well in full sun to dense shade positions and flourish in moist soil conditions.

To create a showy effect in your garden, you can grow a hedge of buxus with a row of ivory black mondo grass in the front. Gardeners also love to mass plant the black grass in garden beds with spherical boxwood shrubs above these dark spaces.

What NOT to Grow with Black Mondo Grass

Black mondo grass can look attractive next to bright foliage and flowering plants but they typically don’t stand out much if grown next to other dark foliage or black foliage plants. A garden filled with dark foliage plants can look interesting but it is typically best not to grow it with dark purple coral bells, black dragon Ophiopogon, elderflowers, or hebes.

These grasses also need lots of water to survive. Drought-tolerant plants like lavender, bee balm, or dusty miller won’t survive in moist soil for too long. 

dusty miller plants

Landscaping Ideas for Black Mondo Grass and Companions

Black mondo grass is ideal for making other bright-colored plants in your garden stand out even more. This plant and its companions can be useful for creating the following garden features.

Rocky Gardens

The dark foliage will add lots of contrast and texture to gardens with lots of rocky boulders. You can plant species like black mondo grass, creeping jennies with their lime-colored leaves, and vivid red coral bells randomly with lots of large rocks positioned among them to create an interesting rock garden.

Borders or Barriers

Black mondo grass is an ideal plant to use as a border around a garden bed or alongside walkways. You can then grow colorful plants like ivy geranium, snow-in-the-summer, coral bells, creeping jennies, or boxwoods inside your garden to create a mixed garden bed or right behind a border of black mondo grass to accentuate these grasses.

Mixed Containers

Use the plants we discussed in this guide to create showy mixed garden containers by adding an interesting accent plant with vivid blooms like red ivy geranium in the middle with lots of black mondo grass growing around it. You can then add some bright sunny creeping jennies along the rim of the container so these vivid plants can spill over the edge of the container. 

Final Thoughts

Black mondo grass doesn’t look like much on its own. Still, suppose you combine it with showy companion plants like creeping jennies, coral bells, ivy geraniums, Japanese sweet flags, or boxwoods. In that case, these grasses will start to stand out and make these colorful companions pop. 

These ornamental grasses are ideal for showy landscape features like rock gardens, garden edging, borders, or mixed garden beds. 

We hope you had a lot of fun learning more about mondo grass and its companions and that our guide inspired you for your beautiful garden.

See more:

Image by lenschanger–Dimanikin/depositphotos

Scroll to Top