Growing Imperata in Containers- Growing Japanese Blood Grass

If you want a red, fiery grass then Imperata is for you
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In this article, we will be discussing how to grow Imperata (Japanese Blood Grass) in containers. There is only one variety to grow in containers and this is Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’, which is sometimes known as Imperata cylindricia ‘Red Baron’.

If you want a red, fiery grass then Imperata is for you
If you want a red, fiery grass then Imperata is for you

This is moisture-loving grass where green shoots are suffused deep red towards the tip. The colour contrast becomes more noticeable in autumn, where the red colour is more vibrant. The leaves themselves become translucent with age, where they can be mixed with other grasses or brightly coloured flowers, grouped together in individual pots. They also produce narrow silvery flowers in late summer that adds to the plant’s appeal.

If you are looking for a colourful grass to brighten up your display, then find out how to grow them in this article. It is also not an invasive species, so what is not to like.

The red variety is classified as non-invasive but the normal green variety is very invasive, so do make sure you get the right one when purchasing.  It is native to Japan where it has developed a bad reputation for spreading without check. Remember red is safe, green is rampant and should never be introduced to the garden unless you are planning to grow it within the confines of a container. It spreads via underground rhizomes and through the plants’ ability to self-seed everywhere, especially so in warm climates.

Thankfully in the UK, the plant is less of a problem. To be non-rampant, grow in containers, avoid warm temperatures and get rid of any clumps that have reverted back to green.


First, find a container that is within proportions with the plant in question. No matter what you choose make sure it has plenty of drainage holes and add a 1cm layer of gravel to help with drainage. Fill the rest of the container with moisture-retentive, multipurpose compost.

Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball it came in the original container of the plant you bought, Place the plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is at the same level as the top of the surface of the compost.

Backfill with the growing media and make sure that any gaps that remain are filled with more compost. Firm the plant in and water well.

Imperata is should a fiery colourful plants
Imperata is should a fiery colourful plants

Place the plant in a sunny location where it is cool and the compost is moist. It does have a tendency to become invasive in full shade, so it is advised to keep it in much light as possible. My recommendation is for everybody to grow them in containers to be safe and make sure you do not introduce an invader in the garden.

Any clumps that revert to green should be removed as quickly as possible.

They make great companions when planted with Rudbeckias or Orange Echinaceas, along with purple-leaved Ajugas or black grasses.

Water when the plant surface starts to feel dry to the touch. Do not feed too much as this will encourage rampant growth. I would recommend that you only feed once in spring if the plant is struggling. Use a slow-release fertiliser but not too much.

During winter it may need the protection of a greenhouse to stop winter rains causing root rot and from the cold-causing frost damage.


Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron'
Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron

The plant tends to suffer from little in the way of pests and disease. The major problem is root rots and fungal diseases, which is best avoided by making sure the compost is free-draining and that the container is brought undercover in winter.

The young grass may be eaten by slugs and snails and you must protect them by using slug pellets or woolly deterrent matting.

In spring, it is best to cut all the dead foliage to the crown to prepare it for the year’s new growth.


The variety to grow is Imperata cylindricia ‘Red Baron’ that grows up to 35cm high. It has upright leaves that are green at the bottom and suffused deep red towards the tip. In a good summer, fluffy silver plumes are produced that complement the plant.


In this article, we have discussed how to grow the wonderfully colourful plant of Imperata in containers. If you want a non-invasive plant that goes with a vibrant red fiery container display scheme, then this is a plant for you. Easy to look after, not requiring much in the way of care.

If you have any questions or comments that you want to make on growing Imperata in containers, please do so in the comment box below.

Happy Imperata growing.

2 thoughts on “Growing Imperata in Containers- Growing Japanese Blood Grass”

  1. helpful , thankyou, I purchased seeds , where do I start, guessing inside in Spring in Michigan , as any other planting. I harvested candy cherry tom. from store bought, this Spring and fermented,never guessing they would take off,. Artificial help for pollination as instructed on line, and damned if the,all of them grow into lovely plants as sweet as the original, am harvesting seeds for next year now, Any help on this Imperata would be grateful for.

    1. Hi Mary
      That is that way. You will need to sow in spring but keep the compost moist until it has germinated. Once it germinates you need to allow to grow on, before transplanting to individual pots to grow on, Once they reach a good size, you can harden off and plant outside after frost have passed.

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