Broom Corn Shocks

Given Michael’s comment about the centerpiece in the pots I wrote about yesterday, maybe I need to expand a little about broom corn.  I wrote about it in great detail a year ago-type “broom corn” into the search line of this blog, if you are interested.  The porch pillar in this picture has been completely engulfed with broom corn shocks.  The wiry stems of the seed heads of the sorghum plant I call broom corn is indeed used to make brooms.  The stems and long lasting seed heads on their long stalks are a favorite fall material of mine.  They stand up to the weather, they represent all of those great colors we associate with fall.   This client clearly has has kids-thus the Halloween slant on fall. We encased the stalks of the broomcorn in dried willow stems.  A double loop of bark covered wire keeps the shocks securely skyward.      

The shocks I buy at market are 6 to 8 feet tall.  I remove most of the lower leaves.  The upper leaves that I leave dry and twist in a way I cannot predict, but always like.  We wired the shocks to this porch pillar; a giant bow of orange raffia that covers that wire adds an unexpectedly dressy bow tie type note to those natural stems.  I try to edit as little as possible.  Preserving the feeling of a naturally grown plant is an essential element of using cut materials.   

The fall season is all about slowing down, going dormant, preparing for winter.  That said, there are certain plants that are never better than they are just before a hard frost.  That fall leaf ripe with fall color that moment before it falls-beautiful.  The broom corn seed heads hang on tenaciously throughout the fall-they insure that my fall season container plantings goes long.  Plan to be at your local farmer’s market early on Saturday.  You will not be disappointed.  Any plant in the garden speaks modestly.  Once you have a mind to feature a certain plant, modest moves up and out.  Any beautiful move in a garden, a landscape, or a container depends on you.


  1. Adore your blog. So inspiring. Am in Toronto and
    have an urn/container business here. Your generosity
    in giving so much information about plant material and
    building your containers is very much appreciated.
    Love when my experience echoes yours! A question
    about the fantastic broom corn. Easily available here
    through our wholesale market. I’ve found that it lasts
    about 48 hours before the birds discover it and then
    that is the end of that! Have you had similar problems?
    Is there a way you’ve found to discourage them maybe?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Lynn, I have never had broomcorn attacked by birds!! It stays good for me until Thanksgiving or longer. I would turn the shocks up side down, and seal the seed heads with Dry Seal, or some other acrylic sealer. I bet that would keep the birds away. Deborah

  2. Great post and fabulous arrangements! Love it!

    Ann from Plumsiena has send me over to your blog and that was a very good idea!

    Greetings from the Perigord,

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