Corn is a tender, warm-weather crop. Sweet corn is commonly grown in gardens.
- Sow corn in the garden 1 week after the last frost when the soil temperature has warmed to at least 65°F (18°C).
- Start corn indoors 4 weeks before transplanting it to the garden. Seedlings as small as 1 inch (2.5 cm) can withstand transplanting.
- Succession plant corn 1 to 2 weeks apart to extend the harvest. Time the last sowing so that harvest comes a week or two before the first expected frost in fall.
- Planting corn in cold soil or chilly weather risks poor stands and poor yield.
- Corn matures 60 to 100 frost-free days after sowing.
Corn Sowing and Planting Tips
- Grow corn from seeds or seedlings.
- Corn seed is viable for 2 years.
- Direct sow corn in the garden in spring after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to 60°F (16°C).
- The optimal soil temperature for growing corn is 65°F to 75°F (18-24°C). Corn will not germinate in soil chillier than 50°F (10°C).
- To start plants indoors, sow seed in peat pots 4 to 3 weeks before planting out. The optimal indoor temperature should be 70°F (21°C) until germination.
- Sow seed 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep.
- Seeds germinate in 4 to 10 days.
- Transplant corn into the garden after the soil has warmed to at least 70°F (21°C).
- Space corn 12 inches (30 cm) apart in all directions; plant corn in blocks of at least 4 rows for optimal pollination. About 4 plants for each square foot.
- Keep the soil just moist; letting the soil dry out will interrupt pod development.
- Fertilize with fish emulsion or a soluble complete fertilizer at half strength.
- Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of transplanting.
- Corn prefers a soil pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
- Grow corn in full sun for best yield.
- Common corn pest enemies include aphids, armyworms, corn earworms, corn maggots, corn rootworms, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, seed corn maggots, birds, and raccoons.
- Common diseases include bacterial blight, mosaic virus, rust, corn smut, southern corn leaf blight, and Stewart’s wilt.
Interplanting: Plant corn with bush beans, beets, cabbage, cantaloupe, cucumbers, melon, potatoes, pumpkins, and squash.
Container Growing Corn: Corn may not be a good choice for containers unless you have large containers that can hold multiple plants (to insure pollination). Choose a container 21 inches (53 cm) wide and 8 inches (20 cm) deep; plant at least 3 plants per container.
Corn Planting Calendar
- 4-3 weeks before transplanting seedlings to the garden: start seeds indoors.
- 1 week before the last frost in spring: direct sow seed in the garden; protect seedlings from the chill with a row cover; minimum soil temperature should be 50°
- 2-3 weeks after the last frost in spring sow directly in the garden without protection.
- Every 2 weeks sow succession crops for a continuous harvest.
Recommended Corn Varieties
- Early planting sweet corn varieties include ‘Early Sunglow’ and ‘Polar Vee’; midseason varieties include ‘Golden Bantam’ and ‘Honey and Cream’.
- Late-season varieties include ‘Country Gentleman’ and ‘Silver Queen’.
- For small gardens try ‘Golden Midget’ and ‘Tom Thumb’.
Botanical Name: Zea mays var. rugosa
Corn is a member of the Poaceae or grass family.
More tips: How to Grow Corn.