Caring for Japanese Blood Grass

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Fertilizer (different types for different seasons)
Fish emulsion
Bone meal

Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron') is a unique ornamental grass that spreads quickly and serves well as a border plant, ground cover, and filler. Japanese blood grass is also commonly planted in rock gardens and adds flair to your Japanese garden. It is a cultivar of Imperata cylindrica, a perennial grass native to Asia, Africa, India, Micronesia, and Australia. Imperata cylindrica has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and for making thatched roofs and baskets. Japanese blood grass has been cultivated for ornamental purposes; its burgundy or red tips add a unique aesthetic characteristic.

Japanese blood grass requires a long, hot growing season. It reaches 12 to 18 inches high and clumps spread 12 to 36 inches wide.

After planting Japanese Blood Grass, follow these care tips for healthy growth and maintenance.

1. Watering Japanese Blood Grass

Japanese blood grass prefers moist soil, so a regular watering schedule will help the grass grow more vibrantly. If you allow Japanese blood grass to dry out during times of drought for too long, it will not recover. Allowing it to dry out for a short time will merely result in a loss of leaves.

2. Feeding Japanese Blood Grass

There are several options for fertilization. Choose one of these options for best results.

Use a quick-release water-soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks during the growing season.

Use a slow-release fertilizer once each growing season. Work the slow-release fertilizer into the soil around the plant.

Improve soil by mixing with organic materials such as fish emulsion, bone meal, and/or manure.

Purchase an organic complete fertilizer like Plant-tone on April 1st, May 15th, July 4th, August 15th and October 1st.

If using a granular fertilizer, don't allow the granules to touch the leaves.

3. Controlling and Propagating Japanese Blood Grass

Field of Japanese blood grass

Imperata cylindrica spreads quickly by the wind spreading small seeds, and by rhizomes. It has become naturalized in many areas of North America, Europe, Northern Asia, and Africa. In some areas it is considered an invasive weed because of its quick growth, which can take over growing areas quickly. Some state government in the southeast U.S. have taken moves to eradicate it, even prohibiting it from being propagated. You can stop the growth of Imperata cylindrica by using herbicides. Burning off is not suggested as the grass burns extremely hot and can damage surrounding plants and/or people.

The cultivar, Japanese Blood Grass, is not nearly as invasive, but its quick growth can still be controlled by removing blades that turn completely green. Also, after the blades flower and then turn tan or brown, cut down to the ground. Japanese blood grass can be propagated by dividing the rhizomes in the spring.

4. Winter Care for Japanese Blood Grass

To help Japanese blood grass survive cold winters, the grass will overwinter better if the soil is well-drained, with no standing water that can rot the roots in winter.

Grow Japanese blood grass for its unique, distinct beauty and low-maintenance requirements!