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The Japanese blood grass – Imperata cylindrica [im-per-AH-tuh, sil-IN-dree-kuh] is a perennial grass known for its ornamental value from the family Poaceae.
Its bright green leaves with red tips and foot-high length make it instantly recognizable.
Its features like vibrant color and synchronized movement are not limited to particular bloom time as it adds texture and beauty to your garden throughout the year with its spectacular foliage color.
Originally from southeast Asia – Japan, China, and Korea – Imperata cylindrica is best adapted to full-sun conditions, but also grows in moderate part shade or partial shade, and does really well in a fire-based ecosystem as it can withstand the fires.
Even though this plant is often criticized for being invasive, it grows perfectly well, and in a controlled manner, in a small container.
You may also use a sterile cultivar to tackle the rapid growth of the plant and keep it strictly for decorative purposes in your garden.
Some of the most common names of Imperata cylindrica are:
- Japanese blood grass
- Red Baron Japanese blood grass
Other grasses you may like:
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Japanese Blood Grass Care
Size & Growth
Japanese blood grass is easy to grow perennial and grows vigorously.
Its vibrant green leaves have red tips.
The plant has serrated leaf heads so animals are not naturally attracted to it.
With height between 2′ and 3′ feet, the plant grows in a dense, fountain-like clump.
Its straw-colored spikelet first begins to grow at the beginning of late summer.
Flowering and Fragrance
The species grows as grass and doesn’t bloom into flowers.
Its eye-catching, blood-red foliage color, found at the tips, gives a characteristic appearance to the garden landscape.
It also doesn’t have any distinctive fragrance.
Light & Temperature
- The warm-season grass, Red Baron Japanese blood grass adjust well in a various range of temperatures.
- It attains the best coloration when it gets full sun.
- In Southern gardens, it adapts well to afternoon shade.
- In a warmer climate, grass spreads quickly and even displaces other plants with the help of their rhizomes.
- For its famous blood-red color, the plant needs direct exposure to the sun for at least six hours.
- In the US growing season, it is compatible with USDA hardiness zones 5-9.
Water and Feeding
Even though Japanese blood grass grows well in moist soils, it tolerates drought conditions perfectly well.
As such there is no need for fertilizers for the plants as the extra nutrients will cause the grass to revert to its invasive qualities.
Soil & Transplanting
For Japanese blood grass, moist and well-drained soil is the ideal option with no soil pH preference.
The plant grows well in coastal gardens and adapts well to sandy soils as well.
Since it blooms best under the full sun, make sure the soil is rich in humus.
Grooming and Maintenance
Gardeners love the plant because it is low-maintenance.
While providing ornamental qualities almost throughout the year, the plant itself requires little care.
Only a few things come under its maintenance such as good draining and proper exposure to the sun.
If these are taken care of, the plant will grow rapidly.
In autumn when the plant dies, gardeners must apply mulch for winter protection.
How to Propagate Imperata Cylindrica
Propagating Japanese blood grass by division is an easy process.
In early spring or fall, use a spade to cut the plant.
It is okay to make small divisions as the new growth of the plant is generally at a rapid pace.
It is, however, not recommended to grow seeds of this invasive species.
Imperata Cylindrica Pest or Diseases
Japanese blood grass is protected against all sorts of pests or diseases and is not vulnerable to these gardening nuisances.
This deer-resistant plant has a long life mainly because it is saved from the attack of the animals, especially deer and rabbit.
After the bloom time, however, if any part of the plant turns green, remove the part immediately.
It is dubbed as a federal noxious weed in various states of the United States.
Japanese Blood Grass Uses
If being one of the worst weeds wasn’t enough, Imperata cylindrica Rubra is a plant type classified as invasive species.
These qualities suggest the plant shouldn’t be included in your rock garden design or as edging.
But this invasive weed is also one of the ornamental grasses responsible for bringing beauty and elegance to your landscape and makes a decent ground cover.
While the USDA website clearly declares Red Baron Japanese blood grass a federal noxious weed, the Imperata cylindrica red baron is found in abundance in homes across North America.
Its bright green leaves dance gracefully along with the wind and bring a lot of character and elegance to your landscape.
The plant type looks fine against the grasses such as blue fescue or blue wheatgrass which have contrasting leaves such as blue or silver-grey foliage respectively.
Grow with care!