Pennisetum glaucum, or purple majesty millet, is a burgundy to purple leaved millet with fragrant flowers. Purple majesty millet starts out with green leaves and stems that eventually turn a dark burgundy or purple when in full sun. Plants grown in part shade may only develop purple stems and veins, with the leaves and flower spikes remaining green. Purple majesty millet is typically grown as a tender annual and is restarted from seed every year. This millet can give structure to annual beds and color to perennial beds. Usually grown for its striking foliage, purple majesty millet produces fuzzy stalks of fragrant gold or tan flowers that eventually turn to purple seeds. The flowers attract bees and butterflies while the seeds attract birds and small mammals.
Starting Purple Majesty Millet Seeds Indoors
Start purple majesty millet seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the date of your last spring frost.
Make your own seed starting soil by mixing either sterile seed starting mix or a general potting soil with compost for a 50/50 mix of soil and compost. The finished product should have a crumbly texture and be easy to handle. If your mix seems heavy--that is, it forms clumps--mix in a handful or two of horticultural sand or perlite to lighten the mix.
Moisten the compost/soil mix with water. Moistening makes the mix easier to handle.
Fill the seed starting flat with the moistened compost/soil mix. Leave a 1/2-inch gap between the mix and the top of the flat.
Place the purple majesty millet seeds on the compost/soil mix, spacing them 2 to 3 inches apart. Millet seeds are relatively large and easy to handle.
Cover the purple majesty millet seeds with 1/4 inch of the compost/soil mix.
Place the seed starting flat on a seedling heating mat adjusted to 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The seed starting flat needs to stay on the heating mat until the seedlings are ready to transplant to individual pots.
Place the seed starting flat on the seedling heating mat in bright indirect light. Keep out of direct sunlight.
Keep the soil in the seed starting mat evenly moist but do not let it get soggy. Seeds should germinate in 3 to 10 days.
Transplant purple majesty seedlings into 3-inch pots when they are large enough to safely handle, usually when they are 3 to 5 inches tall.
Fill enough 3-inch pots to accommodate all of your purple majesty seedlings with the same moistened compost/seed starting mix you used in the seed starting flats. Gently transplant one seedling per pot.
Harden off your seedlings over the next 10 to 15 days. Hardening off is just placing seedlings in a protected spot (in dappled shade and out of wind) outdoors during daytime to acclimate the seedling to garden conditions. Plant your seedlings in your garden at the same depth they were growing in their pots.
Direct Sowing Purple Majesty Millet Seeds Outdoors
Sow purple majesty millet seeds outdoors 3 weeks after your last frost date. The soil temperature should be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
Prepare the soil where you will be planting the seeds by working 3 to 4 inches of compost into the top 6 inches of soil. Rake smooth.
Sprinkle the seeds over the soil, and cover with 1/4-inch compost. Firm the seeds in with the back of the rake.
Water you seedlings in. Keep the soil moist, but don't allow it to become soggy. Water when the top 1/4 inch of soil drys slightly. Seeds should germinate in 3 to 10 days.
Things You Will Need
- Sterile seed starting mix or general purpose potting soil
- Seed starting flats
- Seedling heating mat
- 3-inch pots
- Use biodegradable 3-inch pots to transplant seedlings. Seedlings can be planted outdoors without removing them from the biodegradable pots.
- Mixing compost with sterile seed starting mix helps prevent damping off.
- Do not allow the soil to become soggy. Purple majesty millet likes moist soil but will succumb to damping off or root rot in soggy soil.
- Purple majesty millet will not germinate in cold (under 50 degree Fahrenheit) soil.