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Plant of the Month: Pennisetum

Jade Princess

Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jade Princess’

Latin name: Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jade Princess’

Common name: Ornamental millet
Flowers: 12” tall plumes
Mature size: 18”-24” tall by 10” wide
Hardiness: Fall or summer annual
Soil: Well-drained 
Exposure: Full sun
Water usage: Medium to low
Sources: Local nurseries or mail order in 4” or 5” pots or direct from seeds

Fall is my favorite season! It’s the time of year when summer’s dragon-breath heat changes to crisp breezes that cool the nights and chill the air for perfect fall days. Fall colors are on our minds, and weather is ideal for garden lovers to start planting again. Autumn really is the perfect time to think about perennial, shrub, or tree plantings, but for me it’s the time to re-do my yard with fall containers. There is nothing better than mixed containers in the fall, with all the autumn material that is available for neighbors to admire and envy.

Over the last several seasons at the Dallas Arboretum Plant Trials, we have grown several cultivars of ornamental millet. One of the few that have stood out over the years is a variety called ‘Jade Princess’. I love the plant and the name. The large strappy chartreuse leaves catch your eye from a distance across the garden, and the intense glowing burgundy plumes are like feathers fit for a princess’s hat. The contrast between the 12-inch-long spikes and foliage is almost electric.

If you come to our “Autumn at the Arboretum” festival now going on at the Dallas Arboretum, you can see this plant in full glory in our Pumpkin Village. We have combined ‘Jade Princess’ with crotons, trailing sunflowers, sweet potato vine, and ornamental peppers. ‘Jade Princess’ is the perfect thriller, adding texture and height to fall containers.
In fact, ‘Jade Princess’ is an ideal addition to any fall planting with its bright color combination. It works equally well in containers or planted in the ground. Just make sure to plant in full sun in well-drained soil. Remember to have fun with your landscape and especially your containers. Shuffle the plants and containers around until you are satisfied with the results.