If you would like to know how to grow a big harvest of corn when growing them in pots read this article for my top tips on growing corn in containers!
Corn is usually eaten as a snack, part of your salad, or as a side dish. It’s simply a versatile crop that could be very sweet and delicious.
Now, whenever you think of growing corn, you probably can only imagine seeing a cornfield. What you might not know is that you can actually can you grow corn in a pot too.
Growing corn in a container can also be as simple as growing it on a wide space or a field. What you just really have to keep in mind is that corns need enough space to grow.
This means that if you’ll grow on, make sure that you only use large containers.
Planting and growing corn can be a fun experience. After all, nothing is more satisfying than eating something you’ve grown yourself.
If you don’t have a big garden or space where you can grow corn at home, then In this article, I will tell you how to grow corn in containers. We will be talking about plant spacing, container size, harvesting and more..
Can You Really Grow Corn in a Pot or Container?
Definitely! Whether you have a clay pot or a plastic container, you can plant almost any types of corn in it. Just make sure that your container is spacious and that it has enough drainage holes. Proper drainage is important when you’re growing corn or any other crops in a container.
While you can indeed grow corn in a pot or container, note that only a few corn plants or seeds should be planted in one.
At best, the corn plants you should have in a container should only be around 2 to four.
How to Grow Tomatoes Corn in Container Like a Gardening Pro
Growing corn in pots requires a lot of care like pot size, fertilizing, watering etc. Here are the 9 best Tips for Growing Tomatoes in Containers.
- Choose The Right Variety Of Corn For Container Growing
- Choosing The Right Container
- Planting Corn Seed In Container
- Use Premium Quality Potting Soil
- Care Of Corn In Containers
- Water Regularly
- Feeding Your Plants
- Possible Problems Or Pests And Diseases
Choose the right variety of corn for Container Growing
A lot of people don’t know that corn comes in different varieties. Generally, this plant doesn’t really grow over 5 feet in height.
With that said, the varieties of corn aren’t really just about the size. The type of corn you can choose from are usually defined by their internal kernel structure, the texture, softness, color, and of course, taste.
If you don’t know what varieties or types that corn has, I have that covered below.
Yes, the popcorn you enjoy when watching your favorite TV show or movie is an actual corn. Popcorn kernels are hard and brittle.
It is a bit translucent and I yellow-orange in color. When heated, these kernels build up pressure and explode.
The result of the said explosion is your favorite crunchy snack that is typically white in color, a bit starchy and aromatic.
Aside from eating this as popped seeds, Popcorn can also be used in making tortillas and chips.
This kind of corn is known for its hard outer layer that is glassy in appearance. It has a starchy and gummy-like texture.
Like popcorn, it can also pop when heated, but they won’t completely explode. This type of corn can also be used as hominy to make tortillas.
This is one of the most commonly planted types of corn in the Southwest. This is also a bit starchy, but unlike popcorn and flint, flour corn is soft and can be turned into finer cornmeal.
It’s also pretty sweet and it can be eaten after a few minutes of steaming and barbecuing.
Dent or Field Corn
This is something that a lot of farmers grow because it is mainly used for animal feeds, processed food, and ethanol. It is one of the most commercially raised corn in the US. Field corn has hard sides and a soft center.
When this corn dries up, the soft center shrinks, and so the kernels will start to appear dented. This is mainly why it got its name.
This can also be used for fine cornmeal and can be dried to make hominy. When fermented, it could be turned into corn beer.
This has to be the most commercially available type of corn. It’s the yellow corn that you usually eat with salads or as a side dish. It is tender and juicy.
Now, sweet corn is typically known as yellow, but it actually comes in different colors too like in red and brown.
Those are just a few types of corn that is popularly grown in the US. You can choose to grow any of those, but sweet corn is what’s commonly grown as food.
If you’re only aiming to grow something that you can eat, then you most definitely should go for sweet corn.
Note that corn can pollinate through the wind and it can easily cross-pollinate. This is why I’d only recommend you to plant one type of corn.
Choosing the Right Container
Most corn can grow up to five feet tall and so you’ll need a spacious container.
Avoid small to medium-sized pots and make sure that you choose large containers. You’ll need a large container that is at least 12 inches deep and wide.
If you find something bigger, then you should just go for it. Just make sure that when you have it placed in your grow area, you have enough space for it to grow and breathe freely to ensure optimum growth. Only around four corn plants are ideal to grow in a 12-inch container.
You can use any types of containers. Clay pot, wooden crates, laundry baskets, garbage cans, and even barrels can do.
Just don’t forget to choose a container with enough drainage holes. For a large container, there should at least be three medium-sized holes to make sure that it can drain excess water efficiently.
Planting corn seed in Container
It’s generally easy to plant corn seeds in a container. It’s pretty much the same with how you’d plant other plant seeds in a pot or container, but here are a few steps that you can follow as you do this.
Requirements for Growing Corn in Containers
After you’ve already planted your seeds, caring for your corn plant is the next thing you can do to ensure its optimum growth. Water the seeds daily until it sprouts.
Once you see that you no longer have seeds to germinate, you can start to water the plant every other day.
When it comes to fertilizing, you can do this at least 10 weeks after planting or sowing.
Just dig a hole that is about 2 cm deep, and pour just a half tablespoon of 5-10-10 or 10-20-20 fertilizer. Then you can just mix that with your soil.
Here is a more detailed take on how you can take care of your corn plant as soon as you have it planted in a container.
Use Premium Quality Potting Soil
Just like how it is with most container plants, your corn plant will need soil that is well-draining but can still retain a bit of moisture.
What you should avoid is for the texture of the soil to be too soggy or waterlogged.
You can use soil mixes that are specifically made for container plants. It’s simply best to go for peat-based soil as its well-draining but wouldn’t quickly dry out.
During the germination process, it’s important that you keep the seeds and the soil in your container moist.
This is the time when you should generously give the seeds water. Do this until you see the seeds sprout.
Once the seeds have already sprouted, you no longer need to water them as much. Overwatering can cause root rot.
This would cause your plant to die or have a hard time to grow healthily. At this time, it’s best to only water your corn plant at least once a day or every other day.
Care of Corn in Containers
Feeding Your Plants
As mentioned, you can use 5-10-10 or 10-20-20 fertilizers when growing corn in a pot or container.
Your corn plant can benefit a lot from soluble nitrogen fertilizer as well. If you have a 36-0-0 fertilizer, only use half of what’s in the package.
Remember that you shouldn’t really fertilize right after or even before planting your corn seeds.
10 weeks from planting the seeds is the best time to fertilize your soil. This means that it’s best to wait for the seeds to sprout before doing this.
When it comes to how often you should fertilize the soil, I’d recommend doing this every two to three weeks.
Possible Problems or Pests and Diseases
Generally, corn plants are pest and disease-proof, but there could still be occasions when either or both could happen.
Here are the possible problems that you can encounter while growing your corn plant in a container.
these can affect almost all plants in a garden as it would usually move from one plant to another.
Typically, cutworms can affect the top part of the plant, but there are instances when it feeds on the roots of the plant.
Seed Corn Maggots
this type of maggots typically attacks during early spring. They target corn seeds, hence the name they were given.
This is something to watch out for if you’re still on the germination process.
Southern Corn Rootworm
this insect is usually found on the roots of a corn plant, but it doesn’t necessarily feed on the roots. What it typically target is the heart or bud of the plant.
Make sure that you check the leaves and the root area of your corn plant from time to time to spot them as they are pretty small.
there are many types of wireworms out there, but only two species of this can affect your corn plant.
Tobacco and Sand wireworms can both feed on your corn plant’s kernels and roots.
Corn Leaf Aphids
an infestation of this can result to stunted and deformed corn tassels. Corn leaf aphids will make your plant look like It has black mold. This black mold can be found on the leaves of your plant.
Corn Flea Beetles
This beetle is usually active in the early spring. It usually starts to infest weeds and move to corn seedlings.
You can suspect corn flea beetle infestation if you see small and circular holes on your plant’s leaves.
This is one of the most common pests that could affect a corn plant. Typically, this can’t severely damage the plant. It could only leave the leaves ragged as they grow out.
its larva feeds on corn foliage, stalks, and ears. It could damage the base of the corn ears and even tunnel into the cob itself.
To avoid this, early planting is best. Make sure to check your plants from time to time as early detection is what could help you save your plant from this.
European Corn Borer
this usually tunnels within your corn stalks. It could weaken thee stalks, which may eventually break. As soon as you spot this on your plant, make sure the cut the area it infested right away.
Corn Sap Beetle
this invades the tunnels made by corn borers, but what they really feed on is the frass or insect waste and the pollen found on the tassels of your plant. Be on the watch out for this pest during June and July.
Often, Japanese beetles feed on the ears of your corn plant. This usually doesn’t spread right away, but be on the lookout for this during mid-June and the whole of July.
Pests can really be a problem when growing your corn plant but know that some of these pests are only usually seen in fields.
If you have an indoor grow room, then they can easily be avoided. However, if you’re growing your corn plant outside, I highly suggest that you inspect your plant daily.
How Long Does it Take for Corn To Grow
With regular watering and enough sunlight, you should be ready to harvest your corn ears after 75 days or over three months.
This will really depend on the variety of the corn that you have and the care you give your plant. Some variety of corns can also take as much as 100 days before they are ready to harvest.
You can tell if the corn is ready to harvest if its yellow tassels are already looking dry. The kernels of the corn should also start filling out.
When pinched or pierced, the kernels should already produce a milky juice substance.
Now, there you have it! With these, you can now start growing corn in your backyard or even an indoor grow room.
Just be sure that you give the plant the light and water it needs. I’m sure it will be very satisfying to try something you’ve grown yourself, so enjoy and happy planting!
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she attended University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture. She has supplemented her formal education by working on various organic farms, including spending a semester abroad in India.
Growing and/or raising just about anything gets her excited. She is especially passionate about environmental justice and low-tech, sustainable ways to better run small-scale farms and homesteads. Lindsey started Urban Organic Yield to discuss gardening tips and tactics.