Anything with “blood” in its name doesn’t immediately appeal to me, but once I watched Japanese blood grass in action, I was sold. It’s amazing and waves in the wind, yet maintains an upright posture. It mixes well with a host of plants — no more thug in my backyard in any way. Gardeners further south see blood bud for a bud, because it propagates itself so well but here, in the mid-Atlantic area of the eastern United States, it is a well heeled gentleman.
Botanical name: that Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ (syn. That Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’)
Common name: Japanese blood grass
USDA zones: 6 to 9 (can get weedy in zones 8 and 9); locate your zone
Water condition: Loves water, but not moist feet
Light requirement: Part sun, part shade
Mature dimension: 18-24 inches tall
Gains: Beautiful colour, low grass with movement, propagates easily, simple to care for once recognized
Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
Japanese blood grass emerges in spring like a green bud but quickly adds blood-tinted hints as the season goes on. From mid-June, the bud is half red, half green and, by fall, it is almost entirely red. The colour works in harmony with all the fall symphony of sexy hues, but works equally as well against blues and purples in the middle of summer.
Jamie Van De Vanter
Try utilizing Japanese blood grass for a skirt along climbers or plants with “bare knees” for a fun look.
Jamie Van De Vanter
Used en masse, Japanese blood grass makes a grand statement and needs little to no care when controlled in massive beds.
Mary-Liz Campbell Landscape Design
Japanese blood grass is ideal as a front of the border. It retains a uniform size and shape, reaching about 18 inches tall.
Insert blood bud into a water garden for a shot of colour from both the planting and the manifestation it generates.
Kathleen Shaeffer Design, Exterior Spaces
Perhaps you wish to try a twist on the timeless spring bulb fairy circle. Plant blood bud in a circle in a planting of additional low grasses. The bud will appear green initially, then surprise with a circle of reddish as it grows and darkens. By fall, you’ll have a massive circle of reddish.
Mark Brand Architecture
Whether you add blood bud into an existing planting or allow it to be the star, there is certainly a place for it in your mild-climate backyard. Give it a go, but if you are a Southern gardener, then maintain close watch that you don’t possess a thug on your own palms!
More: Fantastic Design Grasses