Don’t Overlook Fabulous Purple Millet

Don’t Overlook Fabulous Purple Millet

The first time I saw Purple Majesty millet in all its glory was at the Ball Horticutlure demonstration garden outside Chicago.  A great stand of these corn-like annuals was in bloom and visited by dozens of prairie birds perching on the seedheads to feed on the flower plumes.

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Purple millet in varying stages of flower plume development.  Buy Purple Magesty seed online for your garden at Park Seed (see Cool Links)

Purple millet hasn’t yet caught on as well as I thought it would, perhaps because it’s little understood.  This great strap leaf grain with the deep purple, almost black stems and foliage will shoot out of the ground like its cousins sweet and broom corn.  The stalks can reach six feet at maturity to produce a really big bold color in the seasonal garden.  When they flower the top plume begins nearly black,  As it matures the flowers open growing progressively lighter in color until the entire plume is ivory white.  In a stand of many plants you’ll find stages of maturity, giving a varying color range. 

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A close up of the young purple millet plume before the flowers open.

This millet can sometimes be found in garden center six packs.  However, when a young seedling the plants are green, not purple, which can be deceiving.  Pay close attention to the label to know you’re getting this fabulous plant.  As shown below, they work best when you group them into a dense plot for concentrated color.  Plant into existing beds and borders for a truly fabulous new addition that will transform your garden into something special this year!

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Purple millet grows beside fountain grass, both of which share the same genus of warm climate grasses, Pennisteum.

 

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