Ornamental Millet

 ‘Limelight' ornamental millet

Ornamental millet ‘Limelight', in a bed with peppers (at right) and Verbena bonariensis. That's the tomato patch in the background.

Not long ago, I found and wrote a brief post about an amazing millet bug – amazing in that it was huge, gorgeous, and something I’d never seen before.

I was hoping somebody would recognize it. So far no luck. Also, at least so far, no one who shares my appreciation of its beauty. Commenters have been silent, but e-mails and conversations with friends have reminded me that for many people, bug = disgusting.

Too bad. Some insects are just plain creepy – earwigs come at once to mind – but a lot of them are drop down gorgeous, however disgusting their behavior.

The bug, a stinkbug of some sort I think, appeared the very day we left the Hudson Valley for Maine, so I have no idea whether there will be anything left of the millet by the time we get back.

By then it won’t matter. I did plant the millet on purpose, unlike commenter Lynn, who has hers “coming up from the birdseed.” But I wasn’t hoping to harvest food. My goal was those beautiful green seed heads, very useful in flower arrangements.

So most years it’s all cut and gone long before there’s anything that resembles grain; when I don’t pick it, helpful friends do. But every once in a while a head or two makes it all the way to ripeness and then as far as the birds are concerned I am growing it to feed the family.

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  • The amazing millet bug is a jazzy looking bug, though I will confess to preferring that gorgeous millet. The millet does indeed make for a spectacular flower arrangement, something I only recently learned (imagine!), when I saw a lovely arrangement put out by Sol Flower Farm at the Millbrook Market (those guys are artists!).

  • Tatiana Said,

    I love eating millet, it’s a common staple in Russia, and to use it for flower arrangements seems most odd to me. :)I cook it like oatmeal – with half milk, a tbsp or two of brown sugar and a pat of butter. What comes out is an amazing breakfast cereal.

    Sounds delicious! Have to say I have no idea what would be involved in growing millet to eat – how much space you’d need, how you’d hull it, whether it would be an attractive plant on its way to producing breakfast, etc..

    The millets I grow, ‘Limelight’ and ‘Purple Majesty’, were developed specifically for their ornamental qualities rather than their value as food crops, so I doubt they’d be worth the butter and sugar if you did cook them up.

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