Pennisetum, Black Leaf Millet, Ornamental Millet, Pearl Millet 'Purple Majesty'

Pennisetum glaucum

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pennisetum (pen-ih-SEE-tum) (Info)
Species: glaucum (GLAW-kum) (Info)
Cultivar: Purple Majesty
View this plant in a garden



Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage

Foliage Color:



36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

Dark Purple/Black

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

Flowers are good for drying and preserving

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Adana, Adana(2 reports)

Salem, Alabama

Fallbrook, California(5 reports)

Los Angeles, California

Menifee, California

San Anselmo, California

San Leandro, California

Dayville, Connecticut

Inverness, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Safety Harbor, Florida

Vero Beach, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Rincon, Georgia

Grayslake, Illinois

Jacksonville, Illinois

Greenville, Indiana

Barbourville, Kentucky

Ewing, Kentucky

Latonia, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Opelousas, Louisiana

Feeding Hills, Massachusetts

Duluth, Minnesota

Mathiston, Mississippi

Hillsboro, Missouri

Blair, Nebraska

Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Neptune, New Jersey

Totowa, New Jersey

Clovis, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico

Waverly, New York

West Kill, New York

Columbia Station, Ohio

Enid, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Clatskanie, Oregon

Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania

Sumter, South Carolina

Watertown, South Dakota

Middleton, Tennessee

Austin, Texas(2 reports)

Elgin, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Paradise, Texas

Plano, Texas

Princeton, Texas

Snook, Texas

Salt Lake City, Utah

Brandy Station, Virginia

Okanogan, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Liberty, West Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 29, 2011, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Grew this plant from seed for use in two large containers. Will definately be in the garden areas next spring...Love this


On Jan 11, 2011, hortulaninobili from St. Louis, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty' (ornamental millet)

This plant for me goes two ways: (1) bold and dramatic and best if used sparingly or (2) bold and dramatic and best if used not at all.

In a large planting at the back of a border this plant looks good if allowed to not take center spotlight. One plant would look rather ridiculous, so several together do suffice. Plant among red and orange dahlias, Verbena bonariensis, artemisias, Zinnia 'Envy' and yellow lantana.

Plant can have a cottagey, country, or similar effect. Does not always fit in every garden or landscape. I guess reminds too much of a row crop (monoculture) when I see it - so not all that attractive.

Growth is responsive even in fair soil: additional water and fer... read more


On Jan 15, 2010, Jnette from Northeast, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

I love this plant. It is not a perennial in my area but I have grown it in containers for my deck for the last 2 years. I have rose colored petunias on the railing above hanging down through out the foliage of this plant and the 2 together are just beautiful. Others like yellow etc. would also look nice.


On Nov 20, 2009, dancyn from Okanogan, WA wrote:

This plant is a delight in the garden. I start them early to allow better placement and protection of young seedlings in the garden since they can be fussy to germinate. I have a number of slightly different ecosystems in my yard and have placed plants in all of them, including containers. The only ones that turn out any less than stunning are those in lower light settings. I have also noticed that the ones in a windy locale will get some browning of the leaf edges, even with plenty of water. This year I am saving seed, we'll see.


On Sep 12, 2009, grrrlgeek from Grayslake, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Grew easily from seed, they started out green with purple ribs and turned purple as they got taller. Tough as nails--mine stay upright regardless of wind, and one that got broken off at the base with a couple of tiny roots is doing fine with extra soil mounded around it to keep it upright. Too bad it doesn't come true from seed, but worth the yearly seed purchase.


On Apr 10, 2009, jnfmd from Paradise, TX wrote:

I grew purple majesty last summer for the first time in the middle of my vegetable garden. My intent was to harvest the seed heads for dried arrangements. I was surprised that it served as a very effective trap plant for squash bugs. Very few squash bugs bothered my squash but were all over the millet. Will try it again this year.


On Mar 16, 2009, darylmitchell from Saskatoon, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

I grew this as a bedding plant in a container in 2007. It was quite easy to look after and did nicely on a sunny patio. The only problem I had was that the foliage tips would dry out and turn brown. It would probably benefit from some shelter from drying winds.


On Jul 17, 2008, planolinda from Plano, TX wrote:

very easy to grow from seed, beautiful and unusual looking.


On Jan 27, 2008, ncdirtdigger from Waxhaw, NC wrote:

I started the seeds for this plant on a Thursday night and it had sprouted by Sunday morning, very good germination rate as well, 80% as of Sunday.


On Aug 3, 2007, MarilynneS from Thunder Bay Ontario, ON (Zone 3a) wrote:

I bought two plants this summer to place in a garden that is filled with cannas, rudbeckias and marigolds. It was awesome to say the very least .. tall slender plant with a gorgeous burgundy spike. I am zone 3a.

I will post a pic as well



On Jan 28, 2007, ladyschweig from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Bought two plants for my "bird garden." Not only did they grow almost as tall as the shephard hooks holding my feeders, the birds loved these plants! While I enjoyed having a tall, dark plant element the birds had loads of fun landing on the plants, eating from them, and "riding" them when too many birds hopped on at once.

I will plant again. Purple Majesty proved too fun not to!


On Nov 10, 2006, Shirley1md from Ellicott City, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

An All American Selection Winner. It won this prestigious award for its outstanding garden performance in trial gardens all over North America.


On May 1, 2006, Suze_ from (Zone 7b) wrote:

Even though I've repeatedly seen that this plant is listed as being hardy to zone 8a, I have yet to see it. Definitely an annual for me even in my protected south facing backyard.

However, I really, really love 'Purple Majesty' and grow it every year. One of the few annuals I go to the trouble to start flats of in the spring.


On Sep 7, 2005, Kell from (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant has been a fast fill in for me. It adds a great color and shape to my garden. The blooms are very striiking and laden with pollen. An easy plant in every way.


On Jul 30, 2004, Portlander from Portland, OR wrote:

Just planted two gallon-sized 'Purple Majesty' plants. I used plenty of good soil and have kept moist, but one plant is turning brown fast. I hope Portland's hot summer sun and the shock of transplant is all that is wrong.


On Jul 6, 2004, Commonsense from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

This is an amazing plant! I grew it for the first time this year. Germination indoors was spotty, but I got about ten plants from the packet of seeds, and they are WELL worth growing. They provide a vertical purple-black element in the garden that is invaluable. Their seed heads are frankly and magnificently sexual. I anticipate the birds will enjoy them, too.


On Sep 15, 2003, cblunkjr from Clatskanie, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

May be wise to stake this plant in high wind areas.
It is lovely and makes want to run your hands up the bloom for the soft fuzzy feeling.