The common name for this ornamental grass is Japanese blood grass. The reason for this name is because of the red colouration on the top of the leaf and the fact that the Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ is native to Japan. The ‘Red Baron’ is a cultivar of Imperata cylindrica. Instead of ‘Red Baron’ the word ‘Rubra’ is also used. The Japanese blood grass is a genus from the Poaceae family.
In the winter the leaves of the Japanese blood grass die. It is best to cut the dead leaves to the ground in March. New leaves will form in spring. At first the leaves are green then the tips will turn red and become more intense red toward autumn. In a sunny spot you get the nicest colour.
In the climate like where I live with temperatures between about 86 and -4 ºF (35 and -20 ºC) the Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ hardly ever blooms. If the Japanese blood grass blooms then it forms silver-grey spikes in July and August.
The Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ spreads through rhizomes. The ‘Red Baron’ is not invasive like the original Imperata cylindrica but it is wise to put a rim around the Japanese blood grass to keep it in one place. In warmer climates it is possible that the grass turns completely green and changes back to the original Imperata cylindrica. That is a very invasive plant and must be destroyed immediately.
The newly emerging leaves are as sharp as needles in and close to the ground. So be careful with your hands if you want to dig in the earth near this ornamental grass.
The Japanese blood grass prefers a sunny and sheltered spot and is tolerant to salt.
Attracts bees: no
Characteristic: newly emerging every year
Exposure: sun/ part shade
Flower colour: silver-grey
Flowering time: July – August
Foliage colour: green/ red
Fragrant flower: no
Hardiness: -20 ºC/ -4 ºF
Height: 20 inches/ 50 cm