- Type Ornamental grass
- Lifespan Perennial
- USDA Zones 5 to 9
- Light Sun
- Soil Well-drained
- Where to Plant Mixed borders
- Design Tip Contain in container
- Companions Red hot pokers
- Peak Season Scarlet in autumn
Japanese Bloodgrass: A Field Guide
With its rosy red-tinged foliage, ornamental Japanese bloodgrass adds a vivid touch of color to a landscape. On the color wheel, red is a complementary color to green, making it a particularly striking accent to all the shades of green in a garden.
Japanese bloodgrass is a variety of Imperata cylindrica, which in its green-bladed form is considered an invasive weed in many parts of the US. In warmer climates, in particular, it grows rampant and can choke out other plants. Be sure to buy a red cultivar—typically labeled ‘Red Baron’ or ‘Rubra’—to prevent problems. Alternately, confine Japanese bloodgrass to a container where its rhizomatous tendencies can be contained.
Plant Japanese bloodgrass in a sunny, well-drained spot and, once established as a ground cover or on a slope, it can control erosion. In a garden bed, its best companion are hardy wildflower types—such as long-blooming Echinacea and Achillea—with red, yellow, or orange flowers for contrast against what our contributor Kier Holmes describes as its “nearly translucent foliage.”