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The Japanese blood grass is a cultivated form of the much larger silver hair grass. It is popular above all for its contrasting, blood-red leaves, to which it also owes its name. The leaves are still green when they sprout and turn increasingly bright red towards summer. In autumn, this coloring becomes even more intense. In order to be able to enjoy this splendor year after year, this ornamental grass should be cut back as regularly as possible and overwintered properly.

Cutting Japanese blood grass

The Japanese blood grass is a perennial herb. In contrast to silver hair grass, the main form, it only grows to a height of between 30 and 40 cm, depending on the location and soil conditions. The extremely decorative blood-red coloring of the leaves, which the perennial only hints at full sun locations, can last well into winter in mild weather and in sheltered locations. Of course, this assumes that you don't cut them back in the fall.

Best time to cut back

So that the Japanese blood grass can still impress with its magnificent coloring in winter, it is important to wait for the right time for the cut.

  • Always wait until spring to cut back ornamental grasses
  • Cut in autumn not recommended
  • Beautiful optics are of secondary importance
  • The main reason for cutting in the spring is to protect the grass from frost
  • Leaves or stalks serve as natural winter protection for the ornamental grass
  • Protects the inside of the plant from frost, moisture and rot
  • Narrow blades of grass direct rainwater away from the plant to the side
  • Cut in autumn would expose root area
  • Moisture could penetrate unhindered
  • The result would be rot in the root area

Another no less important reason for pruning in spring is that the leaves serve as shelter and winter quarters for numerous insects during the cold season.

All of these are good and important reasons to take action on this spring to be moved, ideally to mid-February or early March. As a rule, you should cut before the new shoots can be seen, but at the latest with the shoots.

Missed the right editing time?

If you wait too long before pruning blood grass and the new shoots are already in full swing, perhaps because the new shoots started unusually early, there is a risk that these new shoots will be damaged or cut off during pruning. This in turn results in weaker growth and unsightly brown edges at the cutting points. Otherwise, a missing cut does not affect the plant.

Instructions for cutting

If you want to rejuvenate these plants, you cannot do this with a corresponding pruning. To do this, it must be dug up and divided in the conventional way. If you have now timed the right time for the pruning, there is actually not much to consider.

  • Cut back Bloodgrass 'Imperata cylindrica' to two hand widths above the ground
  • About 10-15 cm should remain
  • Gather the leaves in bunches and cut them off
  • Be sure to wear gloves when cutting
  • Leaves of this ornamental grass are very sharp-edged
  • Never make the cut too deep
  • This could damage new shoots and the green core
  • If new shoots are visible, cut just above them
  • Cuts should be as smooth as possible
  • Straws of blood grass partly very firm
  • Very sharp cutting tools essential

If the new shoots are already too far, it is advisable not to cut back this year and only comb out the perennial and pluck out the brown stalks. In this way, at least dead and unsightly plant parts can be removed. You run your fingers, of course not without gloves, or a rake through the grass several times. The combing not only has visual advantages, it also ensures that enough light gets inside the plant again and that the whole thing is well ventilated.

tip: Immediately after pruning is the best time to fertilize this perennial with compost or a slow release fertilizer. The nutrients contained in the fertilizer are required for new growth and for healthy and lush growth.

Caution: razor-sharp leaf edges

When handling this plant, cuts can quickly occur due to the razor-sharp stalks. These sharp stalks result from deposits of sharp-edged silicate crystals, which is why grasses of the species Imperata cylindrica are also known as sword grass. In order to protect yourself from injuries, you should do all work on and with this plant protective gloves and wear long-sleeved clothing. If necessary, eye protection in the form of safety goggles can also be useful.

How hardy is the Japanese blood grass?

In well-protected locations and in very mild winters, 'Imperata cylindrica' retains its blood-red stalks into winter, and in exceptional cases even into spring. However, the Japanese blood grass does not form flowers in our latitudes. This plant, which belongs to the sweet grasses, is only found in most regions of Germany conditionally hardy. Especially in the first few years after planting, it is grateful for appropriate frost protection, especially in regions with very harsh winters. To what extent depends on whether the blood grass is cultivated in the garden or in the bucket.

Overwinter in the garden

The most important protection against winter cold and wet are the leaves of this ornamental grass itself. This is exactly why you should only cut them back in spring. To protect the heart, the straws are loosely tied together with a cord made of natural fibers, such as sisal. Rainwater can also run off so well and does not cause rot inside the plant. A layer of dry leaves, straw or pine twigs is usually sufficient to cover the root area.

If a very cold winter is imminent, you can pile up or cover the ornamental grass with dry pine bark as soon as the temperatures remain permanently below freezing. However, you should not do this too early, because then the grass could turn brown and rot. This in turn makes hibernation more difficult and can endanger the survival of the plant. As far as care during the winter is concerned, fertilizer is completely dispensed with and watered moderately on frost-free days. In the spring, the protection must be removed in good time.

tip: Transplanting in autumn, from a bed into a pot, is not recommended, as damage-free hibernation is not guaranteed. The situation is different for specimens that are planted in planters from the start and cultivated there permanently.

In the bucket

In the bucket, this ornamental grass is generally more sensitive to frost and as a result not hardy. Potted plants are generally more sensitive and need better protection. The risk that the root ball will freeze completely due to the small volume of soil is particularly high here. Even the strongest and healthiest plant would not recover from this. A good one is all the more important antifreeze. Even if the blood grass in the planter is not sufficiently hardy, under certain circumstances overwintering outdoors is also possible.

  • Safe wintering of 'Imperata cylindrica', sheltered and frost-free
  • In less cold areas also outdoors
  • Place the planter in a sheltered spot
  • Ideally in front of a south-facing house wall
  • To protect against ground frost, place on a wooden pallet or styrofoam plate
  • Then wrap the plant pot with heat-insulating materials
  • For example bubble wrap, jute or fleece
  • Cover the root area with leaves or brushwood
  • Do not fertilize specimens in the planter either
  • Only water a little on frost-free days

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