Plant seeds outdoors 2 weeks after the last spring frost date (Starting seeds indoors is not recommended). Make sure the soil temperature is above 60 degrees for successful germination.
Plant seeds through holes 1 inch deep, 4 to 6 inches apart. Space rows 30 to 36 inches apart.
Thin new plants to 8 to 12 inches apart when they grow to 4 inches tall. Plant corn blocks of at least four rows (to encourage pollination).
When to Water
Water your corn once a week or 2 times a week if the weather is hot and dry. Corn needs about 1 inch of water a week, particularly when the stalks begin to tassel. Water stress during pollination will result in ears with lots of missing kernels. Corn grows fast and needs lots of water to grow properly. It also has shallow roots that make it susceptible to drought. Soaker hoses will insure that your corn gets the water it needs.
Corn is sensitive to frost, and if planted too early, an entire crop can be lost. To be safe, do not plant corn until at least two weeks after the last spring frost date and the soil warms up to the 60°F needed for seed germination.
Most corn plant problems occur because of improper watering, indicated by the foliage turning brown. Avoid overwatering that results in soggy soil and don't allow the pot bottom to sit in standing water. Low humidity can also cause leaf damage in a dry area. Spider mites may infest indoor plants. Treat the plant with an insecticidal soap or an insecticide formulated for these pests.
Corn is an extremely heavy feeder, especially on nitrogen, so it thrives in a place where soil-enriching crops like beans, hairy vetch, or clover grew the previous season, or add 20 to 30 pounds of compost per 100 square feet to the soil as you prepare it for planting.
Corn plants can reach a height of 6 to 12 feet.Take that into consideration when planning your garden. Make sure there is enough distance between your tall vegetables and short vegetables. That way both will get enough sun light.
Most corn plants will yield at least 2 ears per stalk. To see if an ear is ready for harvest, look at the silks. They should be brown and dry with just a little fresh green at the base. Squeeze the husk to see if the ear inside feels plump, not skinny.
Corn is a summer crop that is best grown in a climate that offers warm weather and long sun-filled days. The time for corn to grow to harvest can vary considerably. Varieties such as Earlivee and Seneca Horizon can be grown in just 58 to 65 days, whereas cultivars like Camelot, Platinum Lady and Silver Queen need 86 to 92 days to harvest. Therefore, it is essential to select corn best suited for the length of your climate's growing season.
Plan to fertilize twice because corn is a hungry plant. Before setting out seedlings, amend the soil with compost and mix a balanced organic or timed-release fertilizer into the soil. About a cup of 10-10-10 per 10 feet of row is a good general rate. Then about 6 weeks or so later, when the plants start to produce tassels, fertilize them again.
Corn doesn’t transplant well, so if you garden in a short-season area and want to start corn indoors, use biodegradable pots to avoid disturbing the roots at transplanting time.
If you want corn only for fresh eating, plant a minimum of 10 to 15 plants per person. To extend your harvest, sow an early-maturing type every 2 weeks for 6 weeks, or plant early, mid-season, and late types at the same time.
Corn can’t compete with weeds, so cultivate thoroughly around the stalks for the first month of growth. Apply mulch to prevent weeds from sprouting. Because corn is wind-pollinated, plant it in blocks of rows, rather than in a long, single row, which would result in poor pollen distribution on the silks and many kernel "skips"
Corn likes plenty of sunlight. Corn won’t grow well at all if it is planted in a spot that receives less than six hours of full sun each day.
Tomatoes should not be planted next to corn.
The following vegetables will do well when planted next to green peppers: Beans, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Melons, Peas, Potatoes, Squash, Sunflowers. Planting certain vegetables next to each other can deter insects and encourage growth.
Next year, DO NOT plant Corn/Maize, Oats, Rice, Rye, Barley, Wheat, Mallet, Sugarcane in the same location where you planted corn this year. Because they are all members of the Poaceae family. Instead use that spot to plant other vegetables from a different family such as:
- Carrot (Umbelliferae): celery, carrots, parsley
- Legume (Leguminosae): peas, beans, lentils
- Mustard/Brassica (Cruciferae): broccoli, caulifower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radishes.
- Sunflower (Compositae): lettuce, artichokes.
- Cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae): pumpkins, melons, squash, gourds, cucumbers.
- Nightshade (Solanaceae): tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers
- Goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae): spinach, Swiss chard, beets.
Growing Corn Overview
In General, corn plants are not hard to grow as long as they get enough sun light and warm temperatures above 70 degrees F. For more planting information, please visit our Farming Tips homepage.