Imperata Cylindrica: Japanese Blood Grass Information and Care

Japanese Blood Grass is a low-maintenance ornamental grass with crimson tips. Why should you consider it and how to grow it?

Japanese blood grass is a low-maintenance ornamental grass that consistently produces color throughout the growing season. Deer and rabbits avoid the serrated leaves, and the plant’s swift growth habit rapidly fills up bare spots on slopes to prevent erosion.

Knowing the basic care and information about this plant can help you grow healthy and thriving Japanese blood grass in your garden. Keep on reading to learn more!

General Information

Japanese blood grass (imperata cylindrica) is native to east and southeast Asia, China, and Japan. 

It has been used in its native regions for creating paper, thatching traditional building roofs, weaving mats and bags, and producing traditional Chinese medicine. Outside of its native habitat, it has established itself in other tropical and subtropical areas, including the Southeast United States and as far north as Virginia.

Its foliage starts off green with faintly tinted crimson tips. As it ages, it turns into the plant’s signature blood red. The grass barely reaches a height of 2 feet and clusters together rather than spread out.

Several states have banned the sale of Japanese blood grass because it can become invasive, so before planning to incorporate it in your garden design, make sure you are allowed to use it.

tall blood grass growing in an open field under the sun

Care and Maintenance

Japanese blood grass is easy to care for; it requires minimal attention to flourish. As such, it is a great starting plant for poorly maintained garden areas.

In addition to being unpalatable to deer and rabbits, Japanese blood grass is unaffected by disease or pest issues. It can suffer from root rot if its surrounding soil remains wet for too long.

If the grass is allowed to revert to a green color, it can quickly spread via its rhizomes and crowd out native plants. In hot weather, it can become weedy. So location is key when it comes to growing this grass.

small red japanese grass in the field

Sun Exposure

Japanese blood grass will sport its most vibrant color if it receives 6 hours of full sun every day. But since it also likes cool temperatures, afternoon shade is permissible in southern gardens for it to flourish. 

Watering Frequency

Japanese blood grass will grow more quickly in soil that is kept damp. Nevertheless, it is drought-resistant once established.

During dry spells, water the grass to prevent it from turning brown.  


Your Japanese blood grass will thrive in soil that is wet yet has good drainage. The plants are able to flourish even in coastal gardens due to their ability to grow on sandy soils.

red ornamental grass in the garden

How to Use It in Landscapes

Japanese blood grass is most eye-catching when it is placed in a location that allows the sun to hit the leaves from behind in the early morning or late afternoon, giving it a stained-glass look in red and green. 

The leaves of Japanese blood grass are somewhat translucent and create a spectacular appearance when backlit. It works well as a groundcover or as an edging plant in rock gardens and border areas.

When used as a border plant, it provides a splash of brilliant color and gives you a permanent red accent for your garden design that isn’t dependent on a certain flowering season.

some ornamental grass under the heat of the sun

Companion Plants

Here is a selection of plants that work well with this striking and quickly expanding ornamental grass to enhance the attractiveness of your garden and draw hummingbirds, bees, and birds.

1. Sneezeweed (Helenium Autumnale)

Helenium autumnale, often known as sneezeweed, has delicate, small daisy-like blooms that are sometimes light yellow and other times sport rich autumnal hues like gold and reddish brown. For almost three months in the autumn, the blossoms cover 3- to 5-foot-tall piles of leaves.

The blossoms attract butterflies. They require a powerful insect, like a bee, to move the pollen particles around since they are so big and sticky. Because of this, sneezeweed is a great addition to wildlife gardens since it helps maintain insect populations.

Sneezeweed plants need to be staked and pruned to remain in check when grown in conventional borders.

sneezeweed ornamental flowers in the garden

2. Stonecrop (Sedum Spp.)

Stonecrop succulents include low-growing, trailing plants as well as towering, spiked-flowering plants that may reach a height of 1 foot. The majority of stonecrop plants produce a bloom held above the base leaves, and all have rosette forms. 

They are excellent candidates for border gardens or pollinator gardens due to their height and lovely blossoms. They are ideal for perennial borders, rockeries, walkways, and container gardening. Upright sedum flowers turn into lovely seed heads that provide winter appeal.

sedum acre stonecrops in the garden

3. Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa Macra)

One of the few grasses that flourish in shaded areas is the lovely, slow-growing perennial ornamental grass known as Japanese forest grass. Unlike many other ornamental grasses, this variety is not invasive.  

This plant requires little care and is not often plagued by pests or illnesses. You may divide it in the spring if you choose, but it doesn’t need to be divided to stay healthy. It may grow up to 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide, with tidy 10-inch-long, arching, lance-shaped, green or variegated leaves.

It has a mounding, cascading growth pattern, and rhizomes help it slowly spread. When compared to other shade-loving plants, their leaves’ loose, cascading mounds create striking textural contrasts. The foliage of this plant pours over the sides of containers, giving any location a striking appearance.

yellow tuft japanese grass

4. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Fulgida)

The black-eyed susan is a robust and low-maintenance wildflower with glossy, deep green leaves. 

Beginning in summer, the plant produces flowers with chocolate-brown cones and brilliant orange leaves. It blooms until late autumn and is indifferent to the length of the day.

The plants are heat- and drought-resistant and need minimal upkeep. Rudbeckias like full sun, although they can also grow in light shade and in most kinds of soil. They attract butterflies and birds and are resistant to deer.

Black-eyed susans look beautiful in mass plantings, especially when paired with purple coneflowers. If you condition them, they also make excellent cut flowers with a lengthy vase life.

Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
More ArticlesGrass