Unpretentious plants are the best suited for decorating your garden. Japanese blood grass is an adorable and easy-care plant that tolerates various weather conditions and has excellent decorative qualities. Let’s take a closer look at this plant.
Imperata cylindrica (Japanese blood grass) is an ornamental grass that belongs to the Poaceae family. In nature, this plant is considered invasive, rapidly spreading over large areas, which become practically impassable due to dense thickets displacing the surrounding vegetation. Breeders have developed spectacular non-invasive decorative varieties with different shades of foliage, but the varietal form Imperata cylindrica rubra “Red Baron” is very popular in gardens. The homeland of culture can be called Southeast Asia, namely: Japan, Korea, China. Japanese blood grass is a perennial plant in most climates. USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9 are best suited for growing it. The height of Japanese blood grass is about 30 cm (sometimes up to half a meter), the stem is erect, the leaves are narrow, tough, alternately arranged, with pointed tips. The decorative properties of the grass are provided by the unusual coloring of the leaves: at a young age they are bright green at the base and red at the tips, but by autumn the rich ruby color covers the entire plate, which is why the plant is sometimes called the “fire grass plant”. Imperata cylindrica also looks very beautiful during the flowering period, when it throws out spectacular fluffy spikelets of a silvery color 10-15 cm long. In the wild, this usually occurs in the spring. But with artificial cultivation, flowering can be achieved very rarely, in any case, it is not possible to admire this every year.
Japanese Blood Grass Care
Lighting and Temperature
Perennial Japanese blood grass plant is planted in open, sunny places. In partial shade, the plant also develops normally, but it achieves ideal color development only in those areas that are illuminated by sunlight for most of the day.
Japanese blood grass is considered thermophilic, its active growth begins only after the established daytime temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. However, this does not mean that it cannot be cultivated in the northern regions, where the Imperata cylindrica is often grown as an annual cereal. However, the grass grows slowly and reaches its full decorative effect only in the 4th year of life.
Japanese fire grass is not demanding on the composition of the soil and can grow both on sandy pebble soil, as well as on fertile, humus-rich soils. The main thing is to maintain air permeability and good drainage of the area.
The cereal is indifferent to air humidity, but it is advisable to constantly moisten the soil. However, the plant does not tolerate stagnant water and waterlogging. You should water the red-tipped grass regularly throughout the growing season.
Topdressing of the plant is necessary only when it grows on poor soils. You can feed them with complex mineral fertilizers two or three times during the growing season.
Pruning Japanese blood grass is unnecessary for the winter. Leave the plant to stand until spring, and then carefully trim off the dead foliage.
Preparing Japanese Blood Grass for Winter
The plant overwinters without shelter in regions with slight frosts. In areas with more severe winters, the cereal is only suitable for container growing. But if too low temperatures are predicted, the plant must be insulated. How to winterize ornamental grasses? Experts recommend insulating the plant with mulch based on dry leaves. It is also worth covering the grass with a frost blanket. In a cold climatic zone, bloody Japanese grass is germinated in containers and placed in a warm place for the winter.
Reproduction and Planting
Red Baron grass can be grown from seeds, but in practice, the vegetative method of division is mainly used.
The plant actively uses this method in the wild, but only in those climatic conditions that are natural and favorable for it. So, planting seeds of Japanese ornamental grasses outdoors is usually done in late spring.
Good germination is possible only in sunny areas. Before sowing, the soil should be thoroughly loosened and slightly moistened, weeds and debris should be removed. After that seeds are laid out directly on the surface of the soil and sprinkled on top with a thin layer of dry soil. As soon as shoots appear, you can start watering. It is important to keep in mind that in dry soil, Imperata cylindrica seeds do not germinate, so care must be taken to keep the soil moist. Planting seeds in seedlings is also practiced. In this case, the procedure can be started in late March or early April.
For a quick and reliable result, experts recommend using this method of growing. The vegetative division allows young ornamental plants to be produced almost immediately while growing from seed is a long and poorly predictable option. A transplant with a simultaneous division of the plant must also be carried out because, over time, an adult cereal begins to grow bald in the center, thus losing all its attractiveness. The optimal time for the procedure is spring when the soil is moist enough. Adult grass should be carefully dugout. Try not to damage the earthen lump. After that, carefully cut the roots into several parts with a well-sharpened knife or shovel (it is better to pre-disinfect the product). Beforehand, you should prepare a suitable pit for young plants. Its dimensions should be about 2 times larger than the root with the remaining earthy lump on it (usually it is about 20 cm deep and about the same in diameter).
At the bottom of the pit, compost is laid and, if the soil is not fertile enough, complex mineral fertilizer. Don’t forget about the drainage layer. Important! The imperial should be planted quite tightly since in a not too hot climate it grows very slowly. After laying the bush, the pit is buried, well tamped, watered abundantly, and mulched with a thick layer of compost. The first time after planting it is very important to ensure that the ground does not dry out, otherwise the Japanese blood grass has little chance of settling down in a new place.
Growing in Containers
Container cultivation is best suited for areas at risk of contamination from Japanese blood grass. The plant is not picky about potting soil or container types. Take fire dragon ornamental grass by the root ball and spread the soil loosely around the plant. Transplant the plant in the fall or spring as needed when the plant is getting cramped.
Japanese Blood Grass Companion Plants
Japanese blood grass red baron is often used in landscaping, as it is considered an ornamental plant. Often, gardeners use culture to form Japanese gardens.The red grass is considered a worthy neighbor for juniper, millet, miscanthus, hornbeam, barberry plant, primrose, cypress, and roses of bright colors.
Japanese blood grass is a great addition to a Japanese-style garden. It is quite undemanding to maintain and would decorate your garden with beautiful red leaves. But, for all its unpretentiousness, the plant can hardly be called completely “tame”. Growing it requires some effort, but the result is worth it!
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