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How To Grow and Care for Japanese Blood Grass?

Japanese blood grass

With its striking allure, the Japanese Blood Grass captivates the eye and adds drama to any landscape.

The grass is easy to grow and care for, but it also has a dark side.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the simple steps of growing and caring for this unique plant so that you can enjoy its vibrant presence all season long. Let’s get started.

What Is Japanese Blood Grass?

Japanese blood grass is a perennial grass native to Japan with striking red and green foliage.

The leaves are long, narrow, and serrated, growing in clumps from underground rhizomes.

The red coloration is more intense at the tips of the leaves and fades to green at the base.

The color also varies with the seasons, starting as pink in spring and becoming scarlet in autumn.

Varieties of Japanese Blood Grass

There are two main types of Japanese blood grass:

  • The invasive green species (Imperata cylindrical)
  • The non-invasive red cultivars (‘Red Baron’ or ‘Rubra’).

The red cultivars are sterile and do not produce flowers or seeds, unlike the green species, which can spread aggressively and become a noxious weed.

The Green Species Is Invasive

The green species (Imperata cylindrical) is a noxious weed that spreads aggressively by rhizomes and seeds. It can displace native plants and cause environmental damage. It is banned or quarantined in some states.

How To Grow Japanese Blood Grass?

Japanese blood grass
Source: Wikimedia

Growing Japanese blood grass is not difficult, but it requires some attention and care.

Here are the steps to follow.

Choose a Location

Japanese blood grass grows best and shows its brightest color in full sun, at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.

However, it can tolerate some afternoon shade, especially in hot climates.

It also prefers moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.

It can grow in sandy or clay soils and even in coastal gardens.

Plant the Grass

Depending on your climate, you can plant Japanese blood grass in spring or fall.

Space the plants 12 to 18 inches (30-46 cm) apart to allow them to spread.

Dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball, and place the plant at the same level as in the pot.

Fill the hole with soil and water well.

Water Plant

Japanese blood grass likes moist soil but is not soggy or waterlogged.

Water regularly to keep the soil from drying out, especially during the first year of establishment.

You can reduce watering once the plants are established, as they are drought-tolerant.

However, avoid letting the foliage turn brown or yellow, which may indicate stress or disease.

How To Care for Japanese Blood Grass?

Japanese blood grass is a low-maintenance plant that does not need much attention once established.

However, there are some things you can do to keep it healthy and attractive.

Prune

Cut back the foliage in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges.

This will remove any dead or damaged leaves and encourage fresh growth.

Divide

Divide the clumps every few years to prevent overcrowding and maintain vigor.

You can do this in spring or fall, using a sharp spade to cut through the rhizomes.

Replant the divisions in well-drained soil and water well.

Watch for Green Reversions

Sometimes, the red cultivars of Japanese blood grass may revert to the green species, which is invasive and undesirable.

You can recognize the green reversions’ lack of red coloration and their taller and thinner growth habit.

If you notice any green reversions in your plants, remove them immediately and dispose of them in a sealed bag or burn them.

Do not compost them or leave them in contact with the soil, as they may spread by rhizomes or seeds.

Protect from Frost and Wind

Japanese blood grass is hardy in zones 5 to 9 but may need some protection in colder climates.

The plants are dormant in winter and may die back to the ground.

You can cover them with a layer of mulch to protect them from frost and snow. You can also move container-grown plants indoors or to a sheltered location.

In addition, Japanese blood grass may suffer from wind damage, especially in exposed sites.

You can protect the plants from harsh winds by planting them near a wall, fence, or other windbreaks.

How To Get Rid of Japanese Blood Grass?

Japanese blood grass
Source: Wikimedia

You must be persistent and thorough to remove Japanese blood grass from your garden.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Dig up the plants and dispose of them in a sealed bag or burn them
  2. Remove any remaining rhizomes and roots from the soil
  3. Apply a glyphosate-based herbicide to the area and repeat as needed

Possible Problems With Japanese Blood Grass

Japanese blood grass is generally pest- and disease-free but may suffer from some issues.

Here are some of them:

  • Rot and Mildew: These fungal diseases can affect the roots and leaves of Japanese blood grass, especially in wet or poorly drained soils. To prevent them, water only when necessary and improve drainage.
  • Rust: This fungal disease causes orange spots on the foliage, reducing its color and vigor. To prevent it, avoid overhead watering and provide good air circulation.
  • Snails and Slugs: These pests can chew on the blades of Japanese blood grass, leaving holes and ragged edges. To prevent them, use baits, traps, or barriers.

Conclusion

Japanese blood grass is a stunning ornamental grass that adds drama and flair to your garden with its fiery foliage.

It is easy to grow and care for, but you must watch out for its invasive tendencies and potential problems.

You can enjoy this beautiful grass for years with proper attention and control.

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