True Blood

No, not the TV show, (am I the only person in the world not to have seen it?), but Imperator cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ or Japanese Blood grass.  It is the star of the garden when it starts showing its true colours, but especially as we head into fall, the red just sets of everything.

Like my new Japanese anemone ‘Pink Saucer”.

Love it with purple like this lavender. Japanese Blood Grass emerges from the ground green with red tips, but the colour becomes stronger and more intense in late summer and into autumn.

But I especially love it (does Ian know I spread my love around like this, lol), when it is backlit by the setting sun, seen here with red lilies.

Hardy to Zone 5, it grows in shade to part sun, but I think that you need a bit of sun, just so you can see it glowing.  Love it!


39 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Edith Hope said,

    Dearest D, No, I have not a clue what the television programme ‘True Blood’ is about. Should we start an association for those who do not watch it?

    Now, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ [and in its named forms] is something entirely different and would certainly score very highly indeed on my list of favourite grasses. Your ‘Red Baron’ looks wonderful and spectacular when lit, as you have it, by the evening sun. What surprises me is that it is hardy with you. I have always thought of it as being somewhat troublesome [which is not the same, I realise, as being on the tender side], slow to establish and very likely to die for no apparent reason. Clearly you ar giving it the right conditions and know how to grow it.

    • 2

      I do have a clue what it is, Edith, it has become a cult favourite in North America, I just haven’t seen it!
      I was unsure if it would be hardy, but it was one of the free plants from my work, so I took them. They haven’t increased much, but they haven’t died either.

  2. 3

    Lynne said,

    I may be the only person in the world who lost a Japanese Blood grass 😦
    I really think I must have put it in the wrong spot, and also at the wrong time of year (going into winter, even though we don’t get snow we do get frosts). At any rate, that was years ago and I love them but it made me fearful of killing another one.

    Perhaps now it’s spring I should be brave and give it another go, because they really are quite stunning.

  3. 5

    Your backlit picture of the Japanese Blood grass is great. That is not on of the more popular grasses sold around here, but definitely worth looking into. I love how the color changes to red.

  4. 7

    fairegarden said,

    What a fabulous plant and your backlit photo is a fine example of taking best advantage of those red blades! I have heard of the show but never seen it either, BTW. I am so glad it grows well for you. Now is the time here when it really begins to shine, the sun is lower and it gets redder by the day. We have not found it to be invasive at all, in fact have to spread it around ourselves, but it does increase to give more plants for doing just that! 🙂

  5. 9

    Hi Deborah, I am afraid I too know not what you speak of with the TV show. Your grass is worth knowing though. So striking! My rabbits … well not MY rabbits… would eat it to the ground, as they have any other sort of my delicate grass I try to grow. This is so beautiful I should try again. Beautiful with the sun and lilies. ;>)

    • 10

      Carol, a rabbit has just made his home in my garden, I have caught him a few times, but he is not eating my bloodgrass. He had a liking for the variegated willow in the spring, and now is sampling the bergenia.

  6. 11

    PatioPatch said,

    Looks like none of us have heard of True Blood but it sounds like ‘Who do you think you are’ – another programme I do not watch. This blood grass looks especially good too against the grey pathway. I am trying to collect more Japanese plants so thank-you, this is now on my list. Gorgeous

    Laura x

  7. 13

    Valerie said,

    Red Baron is a beautiful colour at this time of the year. Beware its ability to travel if it happy. I have seen it allowed to form a serpentine design through the garden. Very effective with other plants.

  8. 15

    Kyna said,

    Ok, I’ll be the first to post about my undying lust for the television show. I admit it! I’d probably write a post about it if I wasn’t so sure of everyone’s collective eyes rolling, all around the world. AND I even got Chuckles into it. Love, love, LOVE. And you’re such a tease for making that your title, and you don’t even watch!

    That aside…:)

    I’m not usually a fan of grasses. I’m too afraid of them taking off on me in my hot climate, which they tend to do. I LOVE (the caps key) your Japanese Blood grass! It’s beautiful.

  9. 17

    Laurrie said,

    It really does glow in the sun. How beautiful! And it seems to play nicely with all sorts of plant combos as your photos show.

  10. 19

    This has to be one of my all time favorite grasses, what amazing colour. Maybe I will get some and put it in a pot in front of the TV so my wife will have some new true blood to look at now that her most favorite show in the world is about to finish up for the year 😉

  11. 21

    gardeningasylum said,

    I love this grass to death, having killed it my limit of three times! It is lovely in your garden – I’ve also seen it used in massed groupings to amazing effect.

  12. 23

    Alice Joyce said,

    Lovely vignettes of Blood Grass. Befitting a ‘Green Theatre’ .. too.
    I never tire of it!

  13. 25

    I am so glad I am not the only one to have watched True Blood. Whew. I got rid of HBO and will download this year’s episodes with iTunes. The grass is great BTW. And your photo of it is beautiful.I like the pink anemone too. They look good together. This was a good title for the post. So many people will be wondering what you are writing about.

  14. 27

    catmint said,

    I recently watched Hector Blumenthal’s feast on a horror theme. He could have designed some edible blood grass to go with the blood sausage!

  15. 29

    Jen said,

    Beautiful, and I love the way the sunlight glows from behind it. There is a huge dense patch of it in the parking lot where I work, I guess lack of water is good for it. And everytime that I drive by, I am filled with garden lust for this beauty. My plant never thrived, it certainly didn’t like being in a container.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  16. 31

    Anna said,

    One of my favourites Deborah but sadly my potful did not come through our ‘cold’ winter, probably because it was in a pot rather than planted in the ground. I had had it for several years. It is now on the shopping list. What a great combination with the red lilies.

  17. 33

    teza said,

    True Blood [the HBO series] sucks in the best possible way! Yay Kyna! As for the ‘Baron’ – I have been tempted many a give it another try, but have always shied away because I was ‘bitten’ once, with disasterous results and haven’t the stamina to try again.

  18. 35

    It has panache…like a cherry red leather purse in the fall. Lovely with your anenome. 🙂

  19. 37

    Melissa said,

    Deborah, I am late as usual checking in on your posts as fall design/planting season is now in full force – but wanted to thank you for this post on Japanese blood grass. One of my designer colleagues has told me that (at least in our area) it is a “heavy feeder,” liking to have manure added to its site every fall. I have a new client for whom it will be a big presence in her new landscape and since it is new for me I’m looking forward to including it in the plan – and am glad to see it looking so nice here!

  20. 39

    […] Autumn Plants In autumn most flowers have finished! Now other plants come to the fore such as Japanese Blood grass: […]

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