October 2020: Japanese Blood Grass
Boulder Colorado landscapes – plant of the month
Japanese Blood Grass or Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ is an attractive perennial grass that can spread into wet areas in the landscape on its own in Colorado. It spreads via rhizomes (roots), not by seed propagation. It has vibrant red tips set against green foliage and will grow well if properly contained. A weed barrier is sufficient to keep it from spreading too far. It can be attractive along stream bed water features or along dry rivers for a vertical “reed” like accent. It is easily cared for and can be cut back in spring before new growth emerges. It will not tolerate urban pollution, so is not suited for along roadsides, but will thrive if kept in a cultivated landscape away from the street. It will not tolerate being in wet conditions, prefers moderate water, and will handle most soil types. It prefers a loose loamy mix. It prefers full sun but can handle partial shade with ease.
Just a note…It is on Colorado’s weed watch list in that it may pose a threat to native grasses if allowed to grow and propagate (via rhizomes) outside of a cultured and maintained Boulder Colorado landscape. Therefore, it can be a great color addition to a formal garden, but may not be suitable for field grass or mass plantings that are not maintained. If care is taken, it can be a great addition to a perennial garden.
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