Tips for Growing and Overwintering Japanese Blood Grass

Blood Grass, also known as Japanese Blood Grass (Imperator cylindrical), is an ornamental grass currently in fashion and used for a wide variety of ornamental perennial design conditions including container gardening. 

The variety that is most often sold is one called ‘Rubra' because of its reddish foliage. The regular species starts out green and then turns reddish at the tips. 

Japanese Blood Grass 'Red Baron'

Growing Details for Blood Grass

This grass is considered to grow as high as 24” but normal range is in the 18-inch height.

Space it 12-18 inches apart in your garden.

Full sun to light shade for best results.

Deer are reported to avoid eating blood grass unless very hungry.

Hardiness from USDA zone 6-9. In the South, it has the potential to be a spreading weed.

Interestingly enough, this grass loves to be well-watered and will grow very well in a damp but well drained soil (in other words, water really well regularly). 

In containers, do not allow it to dry out or it will stall out on growth. 

Propagation Tips

You can have more plants by division, spreading underground rhizomes or tubers/bulblets. It is an easy plant to propagate. 

In the north, division will produce a quicker plant. 

Landscape Value

The flower spike is a tan-brown in later summer/fall but this plant is grown for its red foliage, not the flower spike. 


Having said the above (USDA zone 6) , you'll find it will overwinter in colder climates much better when the soil is very well drained and there is absolutely no standing water to rot out the roots. 

I have heard reports of this grass living in USDA zone 4 with dry winter soils.

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