Monkey Grass Vs Mondo Grass: Similarities And Differences

This article was reviewed by Steve Snedeker, professional landscaper.

Would you like to know the differences and similarities between monkey grass and mondo grass? Well, we have researched this topic and have answers for you. Understanding the differences between monkey grass and mondo grass is vital to know which will work best for you.

Monkey grass, also known as liriope, differs from mondo grass in that it's thicker and usually has a lighter color. Monkey grass also has tall flower stalks and black berries, while mondo grass has short flower stalks and blue berries. Other than these minor differences, monkey grass and mondo grass look so similar they are often mistaken for one another.

In this article, we will learn more about the differences and similarities between monkey grass and mondo grass. We will also learn the answers to other interesting related questions, such as how do you propagate monkey or mondo grass, and why is my monkey or mondo grass dying? Keep reading to learn more.

Big blue lilyturf or monkey grass in Outdoor garden, Monkey Grass Vs Mondo Grass: Similarities And Differences

Monkey Grass Vs. Mondo Grass: Similarities & Differences

Monkey grass, better known as liriope, is commonly confused with mondo grass. Let's first look at some similarities between these plants and then cover how these plants differ.

Both Look Like Grass But Aren't

Both monkey and mondo grass aren't true grasses. Each has been cultivated to look like grass but are different plants.

Mondo grass is a member of the lily family, while monkey grass is a member of the asparagus family. Despite these origins, both look strikingly similar.

Both Tolerate Full Sun To Full Shade

Another similarity between monkey and mondo grass is their ability to tolerate an extensive range of sun-to-shade ratios. If you plant them in any area in your yard, they will thrive no matter the level of sunlight.

The sunlight levels will also affect the colors of the plants. The more sunlight your monkey or mondo grass gets, the darker the leaves. The leaves darken to help block excess sunlight, which can damage their leaves.

Appearance Differences

While there are many similarities between monkey and mondo grass, there are some differences in their appearances. Monkey grass is thicker and has a lighter color. There are also differences in how they flower.

Monkey grass flowers send tall stalks above the plant's foliage. Mondo grass's flower stalks are much less prominent and barely stick above the foliage.

Monkey and mondo grass also have different colored berries. The berries on monkey grass are black, while the berries on mondo grass are blue.

Winter Tolerance

Monkey and mondo grass also differ in how well they handle the winter. Monkey grass is not very winter tolerant. If you live in an area below freezing during the winter, your monkey grass will die.

One solution in colder areas is to keep monkey grass in pots and bring them in for the winter. If you don't want to bring your monkey grass in every winter, then you could try mondo grass.

Mondo grass is much more winter tolerant. These plants can tolerate winters as cold as -10 degrees Fahrenheit which means they can survive in Hardiness Zone 6 or higher.


While there are a few cosmetic differences between monkey and mondo grass, they are very similar. If you live in an area with freezing winters, it would be best to choose mondo grass over monkey grass.

How Do You Propagate Monkey Or Mondo Grass?

Monkey grass and mondo grass can both be propagated the same. Let's discuss each of the steps to propagate monkey or mondo grass.

1. Dig Up Part Of The Plant

To propagate monkey or mondo grass, you must dig up part of it. Take a shovel and insert it a few inches away from a clump of grass. Lift the shovel so a piece of the outer part of the bunch breaks off and lifts.

Dig up as much plant material as you need from the edges of the largest clumps of the plant.

2. Separate The Plant Into Pieces

Take the dug-up grass and separate it into plugs of grass containing 10 to 15 blades of grass and several rhizomes. Each of these plugs can be used to start a new plant.

3. Plant Each Piece Of Grass

Stock photo showing elevated view of clumps of Black mondo (Ophiopogon planiscapus) removed from soil ready to be transferred to another area of a garden.

Now take these tiny clumps of grass and plant them where you want to propagate. It would be best to water the monkey or mondo grass shortly after planting to help reduce the shock of transplanting.

Why Is My Monkey Or Mondo Grass Dying?

There are three main reasons that your monkey grass may be dying. Let's learn how to identify these likely causes for your monkey or mondo grass dying and how to remedy them.


There will be several warning signs if you are overwatering your monkey or mondo grass. The leaves on your grass will start turning yellow, and the ground will be wet. It's okay for the ground to be damp, but too much water can cause many issues.

When there is too much water in the ground, the monkey or mondo grass won't be able to breathe and will start suffocating. This will make the plant weaker and more susceptible to bacterial or fungal infection.

Many of these infections can be detected by white or black spots on the leaves, and they worsen the grass's health. The first step to helping is to reduce water.

Start by not watering for several days to allow the area to dry. Once the area is dry at least two inches below the surface, you can return to watering with reduced watering times and fewer watering days.

If your monkey or mondo grass also contracted an infection, you must treat that. Since it can be difficult to correctly identify whether your plant has a bacterial or fungal infection, treating your plants with a spray that covers both is best.

Here are two of the best sprays on Amazon that treat bacterial and fungal infections on plants.

Garden Safe Fungicide 3

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Monterey Fungicide And Bactericide

You can find this product here on Amazon.


If you underwater your monkey or mondo grass, then your grass will be wilting, and the ground will be dry. Underwatering is easy to solve by increasing watering times.

Start by slowly increasing watering times by a few minutes and adding watering days one at a time. It's vital to add water to your plants slowly to avoid the myriad of issues caused by overwatering.


Identifying that your monkey or mondo grass is dying because you overfertilized is easy because you will see your grass dying a day or two after fertilizing. Another giveaway is how fertilizer will burn the edges of the plant's leaves, leaving brown edges.

If you have overfertilized your monkey or mondo grass, you will need to dilute the fertilizer in the soil. You can dilute the fertilizer by soaking the ground for several hours. Soaking the ground will dissolve and flush away much of the fertilizer and make the soil safe again.

After soaking the ground, allow it to dry for several days to avoid overwatering. If your plants aren't recovering after a week, you may need to soak the ground again.

What Are Alternatives For Monkey Or Mondo Grass?

If you are looking for an alternative to monkey or mondo grass, you could try ornamental grasses or sedges. Let's look at a few popular types of grasses and sedges that make great alternatives for monkey or mondo grass.

Evergold Sedge

Striped Weeping Sedge Evergold - Latin name - Carex oshimensis Evergold

Evergold sedge is most well known for its golden hues. Sedges are very similar to grass but have triangular leaves, not flat ones.

Evergold sedge can be propagated like monkey or mondo grass and like many of the same environments.

Fountain Grass

Ornamental grass in flower garden

Fountain grass is a kind of ornamental grass known for its fluffy flowers near the beginning of fall. These grasses can grow in the same areas as monkey or mondo grass and will give a similar effect.

Fountain grass can tolerate temperatures as cold as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, making them only moderately cold resistant.

Zebra Grass

Zebra grass photographed in the garden

Zebra grass is another kind of ornamental grass that is famous for its striped pattern. This grass can be used in many of the same ways as monkey or mondo grass but adds a fun striped accent to your yard.

Zebra grass can tolerate temperatures as cold as -30 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a very cold-hardy plant.

Final Thoughts

This article taught us the similarities and differences between monkey and mondo grass. We also learned how to propagate monkey and mondo grass.

Remember, while monkey and mondo grass are very similar, only mondo grass can survive freezing winters.

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you want to learn more, check out some of these other posts:

Do You Cut Back Or Mow Mondo Grass?

Does Mondo Grass Spread [Is It Invasive]?

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