How to Grow Setaria Plants

Guide to Growing Foxtail Grass, Foxtail Millet, and Bristle Grass

Setaria plants are hardy and half hardy grasses that carry 30 cm (12 inches) long flat leaves. They have flowering spikes that reach a height of 1.5 meters (five feet).

They bloom in the summer, and carry flowers of red, black, brown or yellow.

Some common names for Setaria include Foxtail Millet, Yellow Bristle grass, and Plains Bristle grass.

Setaria pumila
Setaria pumila - Pale pigeon grass by John Tann.

How to Grow Foxtail Millet and Similar Setaria Plants

Setaria plants such as Foxtail Millet and Bristle Grass should be grown outdoors from seed.

Sow the seeds on the soil surface at a spacing of 30 cm / 1 foot (small Setaria varieties) to 75 cm / 30 inches apart (larger Setaria species).

Foxtail Millet and similar species should be grown in a sunny or lightly shaded area. These grasses require a fertile soil that is light, moist and well drained.

Setaria viridis
Setaria viridis - Green Foxtail by Anderson Smith2010. Both photographs under creative commons licence.

Caring for Foxtail Millet and other Setaria Grasses

Setaria grasses such as foxtail millet are easy to look after.

It is important to ensure that the soil is kept moist by regular watering.

Setaria Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Foxtail Grass, Foxtail Millet, Italian Millet, Pigeon Grass, Bristly Foxtail, Palmgrass. Bristle Grass: Plains; Veil; Broad Leaved; Black Seed; Yellow; Green.
Family: Poaceae.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual, hardy annual.
Height: 20 to 80 inches (50 to 200 cm).
Native: Asia, Europe, East Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 5 to 10.

Flowers: Summer.
Flower Details: Brown, black, green, yellow, red. Hairy dense panicle. Spikelets.
Foliage: Long. Blade. Broad. Sheathed.

Sow Outside: Surface. Germination time: one to three weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Following the last frost. Spacing 12 to 40 inches (30 to 100 cm).
Sow Inside: No.
Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Rich soil. Moist soil. Light soils.

Common Questions

How many members does the Setaria genus have?

The Setaria genus includes about 100 species, including both wild and cultivated types of foxtail and bristle grasses.

Do members of Setaria make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Setaria species can add textural interest to gardens, particularly in prairie or meadow-style landscapes, but some are considered weeds.

Which Setaria species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Setaria italica (Foxtail Millet) is often grown as an ornamental grass or for bird seed.

Are members of the Setaria plant genus fragrant?

Setaria species are not known for fragrance, their appeal lies more in their structural and textural qualities.

What is the perfect location to grow Setaria?

Setaria prefers full sun and can grow in a wide range of soil conditions, making them versatile and resilient.

Is Setaria invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Some Setaria species, like Setaria faberi (Giant Foxtail), are considered invasive in parts of the USA. Check local regulations for accurate information.

How do I remove Setaria plants from my garden?

To remove Setaria, pull out the plants, ensuring to remove all roots. Regular mowing can also help control growth.


The Setaria plant genus includes annual and perennial grasses native to tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions worldwide. They are often used in ornamental plantings for their upright growth and bristly flower spikes.

Grow Setaria from seeds or divisions, ideally in spring. They thrive in full sun and prefer well-drained soil. Regular watering is necessary, particularly during dry periods. Some species can become invasive, so it may be necessary to control their spread.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Setaria plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Lagurus and Coix plants.