Ornamental Millet: Colorful Foliage with an Added Bonus
The ornamental sweet potatoes have led the way, and have shown us that very colorful foliage can also be used in lieu of flowers. They have the same color and visual impact in the landscape – whether it’s the chartreuse or the dark purple sweet potatoes. The plant breeders have done a lot of work in a variety of plants with colorful foliage, including ornamental millet.
We have two different varieties of millet. One is a little taller than the other. The taller one has a dark red leaf and they both have dark flower seed heads. The shorter one is has a jade or lighter leaf color which goes with many of our popular color schemes. The seed head gives it a very different textural change, which makes it a very unique plant.
The other added benefit, especially with the red-leafed millets is that they have visual interest if they’re left through the fall and winter. And most important, the millet seed head is full of seed that small birds such as finches love to land on and pull the seeds out.
So, the millet becomes a natural bird feeder. And if you plant it in view of the kitchen window, so that you can watch the birds while washing dishes or sitting at the table and looking out the window, you’ll enjoy watching the birds and having nature close by. It’s nice to feed the birds, and this is a very natural way to supplement bird feeders.
This feature story prepared with Alan Stevens, Kansas State University Research and Extension State Leader, Horticulture. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.