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Gardeners prize low-maintenance Japanese bloodgrass for its brilliant red and burgundy leaves that add streaks of deep red to your landscape. Beauty aside, this fast-growing grass spreads invasively nearly everywhere it’s planted. That’s why it’s known as one of the 10 worst weeds in the world. But it’s hard to deny the beauty of a clump of Japanese bloodgrass backlit by the sun. If this plant is on your landscaping wish list, you may want to plant it in a container to control its spread (but watch for seeds) or plant a cultivar such as ‘Red Baron’ or ‘Rubra’, which are considered less invasive.
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Part Sun, Sun
1 to 3 feet
1 foot wide
Japanese Bloodgrass Care Must-Knows
Japanese bloodgrass grows best and develops the most vibrant leaf color in full sun and moist, well-drained soil, although it does tolerate light shade, drought, and a wide range of soil conditions. The cool-season grass grows the most in spring and fall. It is semievergreen in winter and can add welcome color to a winter landscape. Cut the grass to ground level in early spring before new growth begins.
In areas with warmer winters, this ornamental grass spreads aggressively through rhizomes and self-seeding—to the point where it displaces other species. It is reported to be less aggressive in cooler climates. Watch plants carefully for any specimens that revert to all-green foliage. These rogue green plants are especially invasive and should be eradicated immediately.
Japanese bloodgrass is listed as a Federal Noxious Weed under the Plant Protection Act, which means it can't be imported or transported between states without first obtaining a federal permit. In addition, it has been declared a noxious weed in warm-weather states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Check your state law before purchasing or planting one.
More Varieties of Japanese Bloodgrass
'Red Baron' Japanese blood grass
This variety of Imperata cylindrical leaves show some shade of red during all seasons. This cultivar is considered to be less invasive than other varieties because it doesn't self-seed and its rhizomes spread slowly. Plants can revert to green; if so, remove them immediately. Zones 5-9