Imperata Cylindrica Guide How to Grow & Care for “Japanese Blood Grass”

Read our guide to Imperata Cylindrica for everything you’ll ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for "Japanese Blood Grass"

Are you looking for ornamental grass with a bold appearance to add some drama to your garden? Look no further than Japanese Blood Grass!

Imperata Cylindrica, commonly known as Japanese Blood Grass, is an eye-catching ornamental grass that makes a fantastic accent plant in any outdoor or interior environment. Japanese Blood Grass features upright, bright green blades that get their upper half turn into a cranberry-red shade in summer.  Like all ornamental grasses, the Japanese Blood Grass will make a valuable part of your garden’s design.

Japanese Blood grass has made a rather thuggish reputation for itself because it can become invasive if you don’t keep it under control. However, this is also good news because the plant’s invasive qualities are what make it easy to grow. Another great thing about the Japanese Blood Grass is that it attracts butterflies.

The flowers and the roots of Imperata Cylindrica have antibacterial, diuretic, and tonic properties. The flowers can be used in treating wounds, fevers, and urinary tract infections. The root can be used to treat nose bleeds, oedema, and digestive disorders.

Ready to learn more about growing and caring for the Japanese Blood Grass? Keep reading below!

About Japanese Blood Grass

  • Imperata Cylindirica belongs to the family of Poaceae, the Imperata genus. The Poaceae family is an important source of food as they are the most abundant plant family. Other popular plants that are part of this family are bamboo, bluegrass, and beach grass.
  • The botanical name of the Japanese Blood Grass is Imperata Cylindrica. This ornamental grass is also known as Red Baron and Imperata cylindrical “Rubra,” names inspired by the grass’s bright red colour, and Cogon Grass.
  • Japanese Blood Grass is native to Korea, Japan, China, India, and tropical eastern Africa.
  • Japanese Blood Grass looks terrific in any outdoor space. This ornamental grass brings a splash of colour and plenty of drama with its bright red tips. It is a fantastic addition to beds, borders, rock gardens and grown in masses as a ground cover. Imperata Cylindrica is also suited for growing in containers to add character and texture to various plant combinations.
  • Like most ornamental grasses, Red Baron also enjoys growing in full sun but can also adapt to partial shade. One essential thing to keep in mind is that the best foliage colour is obtained through exposure to sunlight. In other words, the more sunlight your Japanese Blood Grass gets, the brighter its foliage colours.
  • Japanese Blood Grass likes to grow in moist but well-draining soil because when the soil is too wet, the plant is susceptible to root rot.
  • The watering needs of this ornamental grass are moderate. Although the plant grows best in moist soil, it also tolerates drought conditions well. However, keep in mind that proper watering is essential to keep the foliage green and prevent browning.
  • The Japanese Blood grass is not bothered by any of the common pests or disease problems. This ornamental grass is also unattractive to deer and rabbits. The only known issue that might affect this grass is root rot if the plant grows in too wet soil.
  • Like most ornamental grasses, Imperata Rubra is not considered a toxic plant. So, you don’t have to worry about strategically choosing where to plant it.
Imperata Cylindrica
Imperata Cylindrica

Japanese Blood Grass Features: An Overview

  • Imperata Cylindrica is a unique-looking ornamental grass featuring upright, bright green blades that get their upper half red in summer.
  • The colour of the upper half of the blades turns to a burgundy colour until late fall. This is often a sign that the plant is preparing to go dormant for the winter.
  • Japanese Blood Grass grows in dense clumps that reach a height of 1-2 feet (30-60 cm).
  • Although rarely, Imperata Cylindrica can produce white flower spikelets in late summer.

Growing Japanese Blood Grass

Growing Japanese Blood Grass is really no complex task. This ornamental grass is resistant to all sorts of problems that may affect other garden plants. Plus, it also has minimum growing needs. As long as you provide it with its ideal growing conditions, the Japanese Blood Grass will make a fantastic accent plant in your outdoor or interior environments.

First of all, keep in mind that this plant prefers to grow in full sun. Although Imperata Cylindrica can also adapt to partial shade, you should provide it with enough sunlight daily if you want bolder and brighter colours on its foliage. The better the sun exposure, the deeper the red colours you’ll get in your garden. So, plant your Japanese Blood Grass in a sunny area of your garden and make sure that no other plant will grow taller and shade it.

Fertilizing Japanese Blood Grass is simply not needed. Plus, it is also not a good idea for your outdoor space. This ornamental grass grows successfully even in poor soil. So, no need for extra nutrients. In fact, fertilizing the Japanese Blood Grass may encourage it to grow aggressively and take over your entire garden.

In terms of pruning, while it isn’t necessary for the health of your Japanese Blood Grass, it can be a good idea if you want to protect your other garden plants. More precisely, you should look after plants that revert to an aggressive, green form because these are the ones that produce sterile seed and new seedlings, allowing the Japanese Blood Grass to propagate in an invasive manner. You can also cut back dead foliage in spring to maintain the plant’s fresh appearance.

Planting Japanese Blood Grass

Planting this lovely ornamental grass is as easy as caring for it is. As long as you keep in mind its ideal growing conditions, you’ll enjoy successful planting.

First of all, keep in mind its invasive tendencies when choosing where to plant it. In case the plant spreads uncontrollably, you wouldn’t want it to destroy your most precious garden plants. If you want to make sure that invasive spreading will not be a problem, you can plant your Japanese Blood grass directly into a container.

Another essential aspect to consider when choosing where to plant your Japanese Blood Grass is its light needs. As mentioned above, this ornamental grass needs plenty of sunlight daily, and sun exposure is also beneficial to its appearance. So, pick a sunny spot in your outdoor space. If you grow Japanese Blood Grass in a container, make sure to place the containers at a sun-facing window if you keep it indoors.

Japanese Blood Grass – Imperata Cylindrica Pot

One crucial requirement to consider is that this plant needs moist but well-draining soil to allow excess water to pass through. Otherwise, your Japanese Blood Grass may be killed by root rot. Sandy soil is the best choice for planting this ornamental grass.

Watering Japanese Blood Grass

Once established, the Japanese Blood Grass can survive short periods of drought. This ornamental grass can withstand low moisture periods. Yet, the ideal soil conditions involve moisture. What’s more, the fresh appearance of this grass also depends on how much water it gets. So, we recommend watering your Japanese Blood Grass once a week, depending on how humid your area is.

However, keep in mind that root rot can be a massive problem for this grass if it sits in wet soil for too long. Root rot will kill your lovely Japanese Blood Grass. So, avoid overwatering. In fact, it is best to underwater your Imperata Rubra than to overwater it.

If you’re not sure how often to provide your ornamental grass with water, you can use the “soak and dry” watering method. This method means that you should only water the plant when the top few inches of the soil are completely dry. This way, you’ll know for sure that you won’t provide your Japanese Blood Grass with more moisture than it needs.

Important tip: Reduce water during the winter period because the plant is dormant during this season!

Imperata Cylindrica
Imperata Cylindrica

Propagating Japanese Blood Grass

Propagating Japanese Blood Grass is incredibly easy. If you want more Japanese Blood Grass in your outdoor space, for masse growing as ground cover, for example, you can spread this ornamental grass by division.

Simply cut into the plant using a spade in spring or fall because, during these two seasons, growth is the most active with this plant. You can make as many small divisions as you want.

You should not propagate Japanese Blood Grass by seed. The reason for that is the fact that desirable cultivars of this ornamental grass don’t produce viable seeds. So, you would likely propagate invasive species.

Fun fact to know:  Some states in the United States have banned the sale and planting of Japanese Blood Grass precisely for its invasive propagating qualities, which can threaten the native flora.

In Conclusion

Japanese Blood Grass can be a fantastic addition to your outdoor or indoor design. This ornamental plant is an excellent and bold accent plant. Japanese Blood Grass will also fill your garden with lovely butterflies when grown outdoors.

Caring for Imperata Cylindrica is not difficult at all. This plant is resistant to most threats other garden plants are susceptible to. It is resistant to deer and rabbits, and no pest or disease problems bother it. Keep in mind this plant’s growing needs like full sun, well-draining soil, and enough moisture, and your Imperata Rubra will grow happy and healthy.


Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact

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