Mondo Grass vs Monkey Grass: Differences and Similarities

Mondo Grass vs Monkey Grass: Differences and Similarities


Welcome, lawncare enthusiasts, turf aficionados, and grass gurus! Today, we’re diving into the world of ornamental grasses and exploring the differences and similarities between two popular varieties: mondo grass and monkey grass. These visually appealing grasses are often used interchangeably, causing confusion among homeowners and landscapers alike. Don’t fret, though, because I’m here to shed some light on the subject and help you make an informed choice for your lawncare needs. Let’s get started!

Section 1: Overview and Classification

To understand the nuances between mondo grass and monkey grass, let’s begin with a quick overview of their scientific names and classifications. Mondo grass, scientifically known as Ophiopogon japonicus, belongs to the Asparagaceae family. On the other hand, monkey grass is scientifically named Liriope spicata and belongs to the Liliaceae family.

In terms of physical appearance and growth habits, mondo grass and monkey grass have distinct characteristics. Mondo grass features a fine texture, giving it an elegant and delicate look. It has dark green foliage and grows close to the ground, making it a great choice for ground covers. Monkey grass, on the other hand, has broader leaves and a slightly lighter shade of green compared to mondo grass. It tends to grow taller and is often used as an edging plant or for filling gaps between stepping stones.

Section 2: Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus)

Let’s dive deeper into mondo grass and its unique characteristics. This grass variety is known for its fine texture, which adds a touch of grace to any landscape. Its dark green color provides a beautiful contrast against other plants in your garden. Mondo grass is a low-growing variety, making it ideal for creating lush ground covers or borders.

There are different varieties of mondo grass to choose from, each with its own unique features. One popular option is black mondo grass, also known as Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’. As the name suggests, it offers striking black foliage, making it a standout choice for adding drama to your landscape. It thrives in well-drained soil and performs best in partial shade or filtered sunlight.

To ensure successful growth, mondo grass prefers slightly acidic soil and requires regular watering. It can tolerate drought conditions, but it’s best to keep the soil moist to promote healthy growth. Mondo grass is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 6 to 10, which cover a wide range of climates. Whether you live in a cooler or warmer region, you can enjoy the beauty of mondo grass in your lawncare endeavors.

Section 3: Monkey Grass (Liriope spicata)

Moving on to monkey grass, this variety offers its own set of unique features. With broader leaves and a slightly taller height, monkey grass creates a fuller appearance in your landscape. Its lighter green color adds a lively touch to any setting and complements various garden designs.

Similar to mondo grass, there are different varieties of monkey grass to choose from. One notable option is variegated monkey grass, which features striking yellow or white stripes on its leaves. This adds a splash of color and visual interest to your lawncare design. Monkey grass performs well in well-drained soil and can thrive in full sun or partial shade conditions.

For successful growth, monkey grass also requires regular watering, although it can withstand drought once established. It’s suitable for USDA hardiness zones 6 to 10, just like mondo grass. So, no matter where you are located, monkey grass can be a wonderful addition to your landscape.

Section 4: Growth and Maintenance

When it comes to growth rates, mondo grass and monkey grass have slight differences. Mondo grass is generally a slow grower, which means it takes some time to establish a lush ground cover. On the other hand, monkey grass has a slightly faster growth rate and can fill in empty spaces more quickly.

Maintaining both grass varieties is relatively easy. Regular watering is essential to keep the soil moist and promote healthy growth. However, be mindful not to overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot. Fertilizing once or twice a year with a balanced lawn fertilizer can help keep your grasses looking vibrant. Additionally, occasional mowing may be required to keep them at the desired height.

One of the great advantages of both mondo grass and monkey grass is their ability to withstand drought conditions. These hardy grasses can tolerate periods of limited water availability, making them an excellent choice for areas prone to dry spells.

Section 5: Uses in Landscaping

Now that we understand the growth and maintenance aspects, let’s explore the versatile uses of mondo grass and monkey grass in landscaping. These ornamental grasses offer a myriad of possibilities to enhance the beauty of your lawncare design.

Mondo grass is well-suited for ground covers, providing an elegant, lush carpet-like appearance. Its fine texture creates an attractive contrast when combined with larger leaf plants or flowering perennials. Mondo grass also works wonders as a border plant, neatly framing walkways, flower beds, or other landscaping features.

Monkey grass, with its taller height, is often used as an edging plant to define garden borders or pathways. It can create a visually appealing transition between different sections of your landscape. Monkey grass is also an excellent choice for filling gaps between stepping stones or pavers, adding an aesthetically pleasing touch to your hardscape elements.

Both mondo grass and monkey grass are versatile enough to fit various garden designs and themes. Whether you have a formal garden, a cottage-style landscape, or a contemporary design, these grasses can enhance the overall aesthetic appeal.

Section 6: Climate and Hardiness

Considering the climate in which you reside is crucial when choosing between mondo grass and monkey grass. These grasses have specific hardiness zones and preferences when it comes to weather conditions.

Mondo grass thrives in hardiness zones 6 to 10, which encompass a wide range of temperatures. It can withstand both cold winters and hot summers, making it suitable for most regions. Mondo grass also tolerates high humidity, giving you the freedom to enjoy these elegant grasses in a variety of climates.

Monkey grass has the same hardiness zones as mondo grass, making it equally adaptable. It can withstand cold weather and hot summers, making it a reliable choice for lawncare enthusiasts across the country. Monkey grass also has a decent tolerance for heat and humidity, allowing it to flourish in various environments.

Both mondo grass and monkey grass can thrive in both full sun and partial shade conditions. However, in regions with scorching temperatures, providing some shade during the hottest part of the day may prevent stress and maintain the health of the grasses.

Section 7: Pests and Diseases

As with any plant, mondo grass and monkey grass are susceptible to pests and diseases. Being aware of common issues and practicing preventive measures can help keep your grasses healthy and vibrant.

Some common pests that may affect both grasses include aphids, grasshoppers, and spider mites. Regular inspections and early intervention can prevent these pests from causing significant damage. Applying insecticidal soap or a mild pesticide can be effective in controlling infestations.

In terms of diseases, root rot and fungal infections can pose a challenge for mondo grass and monkey grass. Ensuring proper drainage and avoiding overwatering can help prevent these issues. If you notice signs of disease, such as yellowing or browning leaves, it’s best to act promptly. Applying fungicides specific to the identified disease can help mitigate the spread and protect the health of your grasses.

Maintaining good overall lawn care practices, such as avoiding overcrowding and providing adequate air circulation, can also contribute to the prevention of pests and diseases.

Section 8: Landscaping Tips and Combinations

Using mondo grass and monkey grass in combination with other plants can create visually appealing lawncare designs. Here are some tips to consider when incorporating these grasses into your landscape:

1. Pairing With Companion Plants: Choose companion plants that complement the color and texture of mondo grass and monkey grass. For example, vibrant perennials like daylilies or sedum can create beautiful contrasts against the dark green foliage of mondo grass. Alternatively, combining monkey grass with low-growing flowering plants can add bursts of color to your landscape.

2. Creating Contrast: Play with contrasting elements by mixing mondo grass or monkey grass with plants that have different leaf shapes or textures. For instance, broad-leaved hostas or spiky ornamental grasses can create interesting visual dynamics next to the fine texture of mondo grass.

3. Group Plantings: Planting mondo grass or monkey grass in groups can create a more cohesive and impactful landscape. This technique works particularly well in large lawns or gardens where you want to create distinct sections or focal points.

4. Edging and Bordering: Utilize the taller growth habit of monkey grass to create clean edges or borders along paths or flower beds. This adds definition and structure to your landscape design.


In conclusion, the differences and similarities between mondo grass and monkey grass are essential to consider when planning your lawncare design. Mondo grass offers a fine texture, dark green color, and low-growing nature, making it ideal for ground covers and borders. Monkey grass, with its broader leaves and slightly taller height, adds a fuller appearance to your landscape and works well as an edging plant or for filling gaps.

Both grasses are easy to maintain, tolerate drought conditions, and adapt well to different soil types. They also offer their own unique visual appeal and can be used to enhance various landscaping styles and themes.

When selecting between mondo grass and monkey grass, consider the specific needs and preferences of your lawncare project. Whether you choose the delicate elegance of mondo grass or the fuller look of monkey grass, these ornamental grasses will bring beauty and versatility to your garden. So, go ahead and experiment with these stunning grasses, and let your lawncare creativity flourish!


Published by Marty

Hello there! I'm Marty Robbins, the man behind Growing up amidst the rolling green landscapes of Minnesota, my passion for lawns and their care took root in childhood and has only grown stronger over the years. With a blend of science and artistry, I founded as a sanctuary for both seasoned enthusiasts and green-thumbed beginners. My goal? To equip you with the knowledge and tools to craft your very own lawn oasis. Whether you're in search of expert guidance, sustainable solutions, or the latest in mower innovations, I'm here to help. Welcome to Lawnmower Heaven, and let's create some lawn magic together

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