Red cogongrass is a beautiful grass, but one to be used with care when landscaping. The species, Imperata cylindrica, also known as Japanese blood grass, is a very invasive weed and has been banned or quarantined in a number of southern states. A red-leaved variety of this species is considered non-invasive and is sold under a number of names: Red Baron Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’, Imperata cylindrica var. rubra, and Imperata cylindrica var. koenigii.
This variety was thought to seldom flower and to be sterile when it does flower, but there is little scientific evidence to back this up. The species is a plant that spreads quickly by underground rhizomes. The variety spreads by rhizomes as well, but in a slow fashion. A point of concern is that the variety can revert back to the species and then can become invasive. The variety will show some shade of red on its leaves at all seasons. Any plant that changes to green should be considered a reversion to species and should be removed and destroyed.
- Family (English) Grass
- Family (botanic) Poaceae
- Tree or plant type Grass, Perennial
- Native locale Non-native
- Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches)
- Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
- Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
- Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
- Flower color and fragrance Other
- Shape or form Upright
- Planting considerations Aggressive