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Japanese Bloodgrass

Imperata cylindrica

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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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

1 to 3 feet

Width:

1 foot wide

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Problem Solvers:

Zones:

5-9

Propagation

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.

Try these ideas when landscaping with ornamental grasses.

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. 

Keep your ornamental grasses thriving using these tips!

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

'Rubra' Japanese bloodgrass

Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra' makes loose, upright 18-inch-tall clumps of mid-green leaves tipped with crimson red. In late summer, white flower spikelets develop. Zones 5-9

Plant Japanese Bloodgrass With:

Cinnamon fern
Tall and elegant, these ferns look great during the spring and summer months thanks to their green fronds, but also in fall and winter when their upright reproductive fronds stand in the snow. They are excellent in damp soils and look especially at home beside ponds and streams. They may colonize large areas.
Lobelia
Colorful lobelias are a wonderful choice for landscaping around ponds and streams -- anywhere the soil is consistently moist. In fact, lobelia even loves downright wet conditions, making it a top choice for bog gardens.Perennial type of lobelia (not to be confused with the low-growing, often blue annual types) are magnets for hummingbirds, so they're great for wildlife gardens. The foliage is a handsome rich green to sometimes dark reddish purple. The plant produces striking spikes of flowers in all shades of red, pink, blue, and white. Lobelia needs humus-rich soil. Mulch with a biodegradable material, such as wood bark or chopped leaves, to add humus to the soil.
Daylily
Daylilies are so easy to grow you'll often find them growing in ditches and fields, escapees from gardens. And yet they look so delicate, producing glorious trumpet-shape blooms in myriad colors. In fact, there are some 50,000 named hybrid cultivars in a range of flower sizes (the minis are very popular), forms, and plant heights. Some are fragrant.The flowers are borne on leafless stems. Although each bloom lasts but a single day, superior cultivars carry numerous buds on each scape so bloom time is long, especially if you deadhead daily. The strappy foliage may be evergreen or deciduous.Shown above: 'Little Grapette' daylily
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