The Dwarf Black Grass - Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens -
is an evergreen dwarf spreading Ornamental Grass and it grows to a maximum of 20cm in height. Its ultimate spread depends much on its planted environment, it will spread as far as it can.
The Black Dragon Ornamental Grass is best planted in contrast to other plants, or can be easily overlooked! It is good if allowed to meander onto - and through - a gravel path. It spread by way of underground rhizomes - but not quickly.
As can be seen in the frosty picture below, this black grass is fully hardy and evergreen
Ophiopogon planiscapus Black Dragon Grass
Black Dragon Grass grow to a height of no more than 8in (20cm) and a spread after two years of around 12-15in - dependent upon conditions and size of original plant.
The leaves are not fully black, but close enough for it to earn its common name of Black dragon. It has a better dark colour if planted in light shade. Woodland situation suits it well. But, it is as accommodating as most grasses and will carry on with life if planted in full sun. (In fact this particular inclusion is not actually one of the grass family - but is included here because it is normally classed (wrongly) as a grass.)
Ophiopogon is from the same family as the Lily of the Valley perennials. Those of you who grow Lily of the Valley - Convallaria - will be aware that shaded damp conditions are best.
Ophiopogon is happy growing in shrub borders or at the front of perennial borders and beds. Particularly so if they are somewhat shielded from midday sun by surrounding plants. It is fully hardy and evergreen. The flowers are insignificant little pendant bells (Lily of the Valley!), but they do contrast with the foliage. In a good year, the flowers set fruit (seed) which are dark blue almost black fruitlets.
Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens is a suitable subject for planting in a patio pot - preferably with contrasting plants - or as stand alone subject with a gravel covering of the container compost. Visitors are more likely to see and admire it in this way, for it is not easily visible at any distance when planted in the garden!
The newly ripened seed can be sown as soon as ripe in the Autumn. Sow in seed tarys in sheltered place - cold glasshouse, coldframe etc. Seedlings can be potted up in the spring and grown in pots until mature.
Far better to propagate by dividing the clump in the spring, or separating a few of the small plants from the underground rhizomes. These can be planted direct into the soil, or grown in a pot for a few months.
Thos of you who have read our pages on ornamental grasses will be aware that there are rarely any insect or fungal problems. Ophiopogon Black Dragon is different (not being a true grass!) It is apt to be home to slug and snail families who are happy to munch away at the new tasty foliage in the spring.
Now, having included Ophiopogon, we will include the other non-grass (same family incidentally) which is often referred to as a grass - Liriope muscari!
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