Broom Corn

Oct 13a 004
Broomcorn, or sorghum vulgare, is an annual that can grow to fifteen feet in a season. It is a crop grown primarily for the manufacture of brooms, and whisk brooms. It appears in the literature in the late 1500’s, in Italy;  Benjamin Franklin is reputed to have introduced broomcorn to the US in 1700.  Though I have been using broomcorn ornamentally in fall pots for years,  the above mentioned facts I learned only yesterday.  As I am focused on how plants look, I am impressed with that enterprising person that dried this plant, and made brooms. I will admit I did go and check out the broom in my office.

Oct 13a 008
They make a swell centerpiece in a fall pot. For this six foot tall centerpiece, I loosely zip-tie two  levels of material to a vinyl coated steel stake, and stuff my way down. The metal stake is a good idea-these stems are juicy, and very heavy.  I like to use fresh cut sorghum and millet as they dry in whatever position you have them. 

Oct 13 014The metal stake is inserted as close to the bottom of the pot as possible. A listing, out of vertical centerpiece-on my top ten list of things I really dislike. The long fibrous panicle of the broomcorn plant arches over gracefully in a pot.  I repeat that graceful arching with some leggy Tuscan blue kale; this combination is a good foil for those utterly organized cabbages. 

Oct 13 002Sometimes I sort the broomcorn bunches for color.  The dark stems are a beautiful compliment to this Francesco Del Re pot; plugs of angelina sedum infill the gaps. As I discussed yesterday, elevating the pots allows water to drain away freely. We will need this when dressing the pots for the winter.

Oct 13 011The green-cream and peach sorghum contrasts well with its counterpart in a dark purple-brown. I do not know if any of these stems would pass muster for broom-making material, but they make for a great fall pot.  That blue kale foliage is an unusual color in Michigan landscapes; it stands out.

Oct 13 008Ornamental cabbages only get better as the night temperatures drop; they color up.  They are best planted as a tutu.  Plants with a stiff aspect need some friendly and loose companionship.  Thus this combination. The lime green angelina will take on an orange cast in cold weather, as in  37 degrees when I came to work this morning.

Oct 13 007This lace leaf kale is all about air, at the same time that it defines an overall shape.  What more could any gardener ask of a plant?  As kales and cabbages shed their lower leaves, I may bury the trunk as needed in the soil, and pitch the head forward some. The entire arrangement-saucy enough to attract attention. 

Oct 13 015

I plant my clients pots four times a year;  her pair of concrete squares, and three Francesco Del Re pots get dressed up for each season.  Every season she is looking out her kitchen window expecting to see something beautiful.  I suppose if I made a big issue of the history and ornamental use of broomcorn, she would listen. But her attention to that horticulture would not be the point.  As I try to provide her with a view to something,  I am interested in any plant, including a big rangy annual usually grown as a crop, that delivers.

Comments

  1. I’ve used broomcorn as a backdrop with dried maple leaves and sunflowers in a small hanging container outside my entry way when I can find it in the farmer’s market. I’m inspired by your blog to use it as a centerpiece. Thanks for sharing your ideas – I love reading your blog!

  2. I’ve never seen sorghum used that way. Thanks for the great ideas. 🙂

    – Julia at Midwest Moms

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