Helping You Become a More Successful Gardener
James H. Schutte
Millet, Pearl Millet
Highly valued as both a crop plant and ornamental, pearl millet is easy to cultivate, tough, and its seeds are attractive to birds. This warm-season grass is among the most ancient of the cultivated annual grains. It is believed to have originated from sub-Saharan Africa and was then taken to the Middle East and India approximately 4,000 years ago. In recent years garden-worthy purple and bronze-leaved forms have hit the market.
Millet is a broad-bladed grass with a narrow, upright habit. Each plant is solitary and looks a bit like a small corn plant. The flower panicles are dense and upright and appear when summer temperatures are hot. Upright clusters of little, round millet seeds follow. This is the same millet that you buy for parakeet treats at pet stores and wild birds eat it just as well. The best ornamental forms are the rich dark purple ‘Purple Majesty’ and bronzy green ‘Jester.’
This tough and easy-to- cultivate grass is widely adapted to drought and extreme heat. Be sure to provide it with full sun, average soil with a neutral to alkaline pH and excellent drainage. It is an important grain and forage plant for livestock in the Third World where climates are too extreme for wheat or corn. Millet looks best when planted in groups or dotted among other colorful ornamentals for sun. Perennials with soft, rounded habits are complemented by its sharp, vertical lines. The seed heads are wonderful cut, fresh or dried.
12 - 8
8 - 11
A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m
1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m
Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall
Clay, Loam, Sand
Drought Tolerant, Average Water
Light Green, Tan
Tan, Sandy Brown
Green, Dark Green
Bedding Plant, Container, Dried Flower/Everlasting, Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border
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