When we think of corn, we envision endless stretches of land, refreshing open fields, and green and golden heads poking out against the setting sun. But what if you didn’t need an entire acre of land to harvest corn this coming season?
Because yes, you can grow corn, that too right in your garden! The yield may not match the one you get from a field, but this DIY gardening project will soothe all those corn cravings. With a spot receiving plenty of sunlight and a sufficient supply of wind, growing corn in containers will become your new favorite backyard hobby.
Read ahead and follow this step-by-step guide to start your corn-growing journey.
Growing Corn in Containers: Step-By-Step Guide
Yes, despite the few difficulties and occasional obstacles, it is possible to grow corn in containers. It even gives a nice summer touch to your backyard.
When we think of corn, gardeners may think it takes too much space to be grown in an enclosed area like backyards. But with container-friendly varieties, corn can be grown in containers using this simple-to-follow-along guide.
On top of that, this DIY gardening project can turn into a family bond-building event where everyone can participate and have an enjoyable time together. Even more, you will be able to taste the goodness of homegrown corn and add a new accomplishment to your gardening journey.
Bonus Read: Get yourself a garden bench and enjoy leisurely time with family while basking in the fresh atmosphere of your backyard.
Picking The Pots
This open field-loving crop can get very picky when it comes to containers. Hence, picking a suitable container for corn is a challenging task and requires undivided attention. Try to make your selected container as welcoming and open as possible.
Containers for corn should preferably have enough holes at the bottom as the plant thrives when given good drainage. Corn needs moisture to grow, but it also can’t withstand standing water. Thus, the container size should be at least 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide, but opting for a larger container is always better if the available space in your backyard permits.
What’s more, you don’t have to feel restricted when selecting your corn plants in a pot. Let the creativity go wild and take the DIY gardening experience to new heights by opting for more visually appealing and economically feasible container options. The choices offer a broad range of types, ranging from clay pots to plastic. But above all, even laundry baskets, wooden crates, barrels, and garbage cans could work.
Additionally, the container should also have the durability to resist toppling as the corn plant grows tall. It should have a desirable width, depth, and stability. Keep in mind; large whiskey barrels can hold 8-10 plants and make an ideal choice.
Tip: Get several containers of the same size if you want to grow a good amount of corn because the average large size can hold up to four corn plants.
Where To Place Your Container?
Corn plants love sunlight. These golden plants can spend hours soaking in all the warm goodness. Placing your growing corn in containers at a spot of your garden or patio that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day is ideal. It will ensure the best conditions for the plant to develop in as they aren’t moveable after being planted once.
Apart from that, it is best to grow corn closer to each other. It is an air pollinated plant which means when nature blows the wind, your corn plants will get fertilized themselves, and there will be no need for hand pollination. Even more beneficial is the ability of corn to grow tall. Hence, you can also use this as a wall for your garden to seek privacy or avoid the scorching sunlight during summer.
The corn grown in containers does not attain the height it would in an open field. But they can still easily reach 6-8 feet, making a pleasant addition to the backyard. Moreover, if planted in May, you can expect them functioning as a privacy window of plants, latest by midsummer.
Making The Potting Soil Corn-Ready
These towering plants can give a great harvest if taken care of properly. Therefore, preparing and making the DIY potting soil suitable for corn is a crucial step.
While they need a soil type that retains moisture and doesn’t dry off too quickly, the soil should be well-draining at the same time. Although it should not dry off quickly, it should also not become soggy or waterlogged.
Moreover, corn is a heavy feeder, making it ideal for gardeners to grow it in containers. And the enclosure feature of pots prevents soil from soaking up the nutrients within the garden.
Bonus Tip: A peat-based potting soil or a fine, loamy soil mix can make great choices for your DIY corn planting project.
Is Boosting The Soil A Requisite For Growing Corn In Containers?
Yes, even for farmers growing corn commercially, it can be destructive when the nutrients in the earth run out.
As a result, it becomes necessary to boost the soil and is recommended even for gardeners owning reasonably healthy backyards. Not to forget, corn feeds heavily on nitrogen and phosphorous. Thereby, if you amplify the nutrient quality of your soil in advance, a healthy yield is secured.
Further, the DIY potting soil can become nutrient-rich by the inclusion of natural and healthy compost. The compost can contain chicken manure, fish emulsions, and grass clippings. Mixing a gallon scoop of compost for a 1-foot diameter pot will give all the required nutrients to the young corn plants.
Which Variety Of Corn To Choose?
When container gardening, we have to make sure our plants fit. A dwarf variety of corn can do wonders in your garden. But there are plenty of others available that make growing corn in containers less strenuous and more accessible.
Therefore, let your inner gardening spirit lose and be picky when selecting a corn type that will be ideal for your patio, backyard, or garden. Majorly, there are short-stemmed varieties and container varieties for selection.
- Short-stemmed varieties
These corn types adapt quickly to pots in comparison to their larger in-size variants. Even more, they can thrive with less space, fewer nutrients and are feasible for breeding in tighter locations.
On the negative side, short-stemmed varieties result in less stunted and undernourished harvest. While the plant still requires care, on the positive side, it is a relatively less complex gardening option.
Some short-stemmed varieties are:
- Trinity has kernels that are sweet and tender. It has reliable germination, with the stalk going as high as five feet.
- Sweet Painted Mountain is known for its ornamental beauty. It has cold hardiness and tolerance to droughts. Above all, it serves multiple uses by being available to use for both eating and decorating purposes.
Bonus Read: Decorate your most luscious-looking corn plants on a potting bench.
- Container varieties
If you are conflicted by the idea of growing corn from scratch, opting for the usage of container corn seeds will be the end to your doubts.
Few seed companies offer specialized container corn seeds that are suitable to grow in containers. These corn kinds range from Burpee’s On Deck to Gurney’s Utopia varieties and have specific designs convenient for containers.
Some container varieties are:
- Strawberry Popcorn produces little ears of corn that resemble strawberries and can measure up to 2-3 inches. Each stalk grows about two to four ears of corn, and the entire plant height can reach four feet.
- Sweet Spring Treat is an early sweet corn variety, ready for harvest in less than 70 days. These corn plants can handle cool soil temperatures, and their stalks grow as high as five feet.
How To Plant Corn In Containers?
After the container and seeds are selected, what comes next?
Yes, you are right. The remaining part is planting the corn seeds in containers, and the initial setup for growing this plant in your yard finishes here.
Start planting four to six corn seeds in each pot. They should be raised 1 inch deep and about 6″ apart, lining the outer circle of your container. Further, they should be 3-4 inches away from the edge as well. Also, ensure to plant corn an inch deep in the soil.
In case you planted the corn too close, do not worry. Putting corn closer is beneficial for the yield as it pollinates by air, and being closer will lead to more fruit production. Just remember to water your seeds properly and give them an abundant amount of sunlight.
If grown in cool weather (55-60 degrees), corn plants will germinate in about 10-14 days. But, when grown in warmer weather (65 degrees or more), it can yield corn latest by six days.
Taking Care of Growing Corn in Containers
Corn growth can get a little tricky when being grown in containers. But, if given proper care and a decent amount of attention, the growing process becomes straightforward quickly.
- Giving sufficient water
Water is crucial when growing corn because moisture has a fundamental role in producing sweet, soft, and delicious corn. Especially in the fruiting stage, the corn plants need even more water. Therefore, water your corn plants every other day, and during hot weather, water them every single day
Moreover, maintaining the soil moisture content throughout the growing season is ideal, as corn thrives best with a constant water supply. It requires care because corn needs a balanced supply with plenty of water aided by a nicely working drainage system.
Tip: Mulching using wood chips, newspaper, or grass clippings can keep your corn plants from drying. This happens because you are enhancing the soil’s capacity to retain water. Even better, it will reduce weed growth.
- Replenishing nutrients by using fertilizers
Corn plants consume hefty amounts of nutrients. Hence, using a fertilizer 9-10 weeks after planting will give good results. While natural compost-like fish emulsion works great, you can also opt for a half tablespoon of 5-10-10 or 10-20-20 fertilizer.
If using a dry fertilizer, mix the nutrients well to incorporate everything nicely into the soil. Above all, prevent the plant from contacting the fertilizer directly as it could cause burning.
Harvesting The Corn Plant
If you used a container-friendly corn variety and paid careful attention while growing this plant in your DIY garden, then the corn harvest will be satisfactory.
What’s more, harvesting corn from the backyard isn’t much different from harvesting done in fields. Most corn types mature within 60-100 days. But a few variations may occur in the maturity duration because of differences in weather conditions. In addition, most sweet corn varieties may not produce more than two ears of corn per plant.
To ensure ample harvest after a summer of hard work, use a corn variety suited to containers, plant 4-6 stalks in each pot, and keep them close to maximize the effect of pollination.
When the corncob is brimming with corn, it is ready to be harvested. The best time for doing this is early morning when the sweetness level is highest. To check if your corn is done or not, try to feel the tip of its ear and give it more time if it’s still pointed.
If the tip is rounded or blunt with dry silks, the ears are ready, and the corn is prepared to be picked. To collect the corn, grasp the ear firmly to pull downward. Then, twist and pull again. This process will make it come off of the stalk quickly.
Tip: The number of corns harvested should be as per the requirement. Harvesting in bulk and storage for long will make the harvest go bad.
Pests To Keep The Corn Plant Careful From
For the most part, corn is a pest-free and disease-proof plant, but on the slight occasion your plant may get infected, knowledge about pests harmful to corn will come in handy.
Here are the most common pests and diseases:
- Corn Leaf Aphids
Different crops face a handful of problems caused by aphids. Even more, when a severe infestation happens, it can lead to stunted and deformed corn tassels. If your plant has black mold, it might have an infection of aphids.
- Corn Flea Beetles
Active in the springtime, these beetles start the infestation by infecting the weeds in the area. Then they move to the corn seedlings because their size starts increasing.
Your corn plant has a corn flea beetle infestation if you have small circulator holes on the leaves.
These pests are vicious because they don’t affect only corn but any plant in your garden. By making moves from plant to plant, they eat and devour as they go. In most cases, cutworms bother the top part of the plant, but few times, cutworms can eat the top part of the crop.
- Seed Corn Maggots
Seedcorn maggot is a type of larva that hinders the crops mostly during spring. As the name suggests, they target corn seeds.
If still in the germination process, you can save your corn plants by paying extra attention to seed corn maggots.
- Southern Corn Rootworm
In addition to being root-loving insects, these worms also target the heart or bud of the plant. Ensure to check all the leaves and the root areas to look for rootworms because they are small and thus easy to escape the eye.
Corn is not the easiest vegetable to grow, but to a gardening enthusiast who is willing to invest time and proper care in a hobby they love doing, growing corn in containers can be an absolute joy. It has the perfect spice of a challenge and a sweet reward waiting at the time of harvest. Quite literally!
Therefore, follow this step-to-step guide on growing corns and add a touch of fall aesthetic to your garden this summer end as these golden-green stalks tower over your patio or backyard.
Bonus Read: This summer, add a vegetable garden to your backyard, and cross off some more items off your gardening aspirations.