Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty' is a fabulous new ornamental plant with dramatic, almost black, broad leaves, crowned with purple flower plumes. A striking backdrop plant and excellent choice for mass plantings, large mixed containers and borders.
Purple Majesty produces cattail-like flower plumes, each 30 to 35cm (12 to 14in) long. The colour, size of plant, vigor of plant, and production of seed plumes are best in full sunlight.
Young plants are green. Stem and mid-rib of the foliage first turn purple after about eight leaves have developed. The foliage turns dark purple when plants are moved from the greenhouse outside into full sun.
Heat and drought proof and well-suited to growing in containers, it also makes a good cut flower. In autumn, the ripe seeds are adored by birds.
Pennisetum glaucum is a fairly tender perennial often used as an annual and is hardy down to about 0°C, (32°F) so if planted in a sheltered spot, may survive the winter, otherwise it can be grown in large pots and moved to a cool greenhouse over the winter months.
Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty' is an All-America Selections Gold Medal Winner.
Sowing: Sow indoors in late winter to early spring or sow in autumn.
Seeds can also be sown directly outdoors on open ground from March onwards
Sow on to the surface of a free-draining, moist seed-sowing compost and cover with 3 to 4mm (¼ in) of vermiculite. Keep at around 15 to 20°C (60 to 68°F) Germination should take place in approximately two weeks.
Maintain a temperature of 15°C (60°F) after germination until the seedlings are established
Once seedlings are large enough to handle, take a small clump of seedlings and put them all in a one-litre pot of gritty compost. They will form a bushy plant and be ready to go into the garden in summer.
Plant out in sun and in well drained soil.
Ensure all ground is weed free and well prepared before sowing. Sow the seed 2 to 3cm (¾ to1¼in) deep
in rows 60 to 90cm (25 to 35in) apart with a distance of 10 to 30cm (4 to 12 in) between the plants.
The rate and speed of germination will depend on the soil temperature and weather conditions and could be from seven to twenty one days.
Cut back old foliage in spring as new growth appears in the centres of plants.
Feed in summer with single dressing of a dilute general fertiliser. Even without an annual feed, most grasses will put on a first-rate show. The more nitrogen grasses receive the greener and further they'll grow. Do not overdo it…their spreading habit is fine in a field, but in a garden they may become too lush and the flower quality may suffer.
Pennisetum can be dried and make interesting focal or secondary flowers in dried arrangements.
To dry, cut the flower at the height of bloom and hang upside down in a cool, dark place to dry.
Beds and borders, City, Containers, Cottage/Informal, Foliage only, Prairie planting. Flower arrangements. Low Maintenance or Mediterranean.
Pennisetum glaucum was domesticated in the Sahel 4000–5000 years ago from Pennisetum violaceum (Lam.) Rich. It spread to East Africa and from there to southern Africa, and, about 3000 years ago, to the Indian subcontinent. It reached tropical America in the 18th century and the United States in the 19th century. Pearl millet is commonly grown as a grain crop in the semi-arid regions of West Africa and the driest parts of East and southern Africa and the Indian subcontinent. It is also grown as a fodder crop, e.g. in Brazil, the United States, South Africa, and Australia.
It has been adopted for ornamental use in parks and gardens.
Pennisetum is named for its soft inflorescences; Latin penna and seta mean feather-bristle.
The species name glaucum means glaucous, from the Greek glauca meaning 'bluish-grey,' referring primarily to the leaves, and specifically to the 'bloom,' the fine, whitish powder that coats the leaves of certain plants.
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 20 Seeds Common Name Ornamental Millet Family Poaceae Genus Pennisetum Species glaucum Cultivar Purple Majesty Hardiness Half Hardy Perenials Flowers Purple cat-tail like flower plumes Natural Flower Time Late spring until autumn Height 120 to 150cm (48 to 60in) Spread 20 to 30cm (8 to 12in) Spacing 20 to 36cm (8 to 14in) Position Full sun to light shade. Soil Prefers well-drained soils