How To Grow Corn In Containers At Home


We all love to enjoy some corn. It is so versatile, you can put in burritos, tacos, pizzas, salads, or just bite into it after cooking it. Those tasty kernels will taste even more heavenly when you’ve put your hard work into it. There are various different varieties of corn and while you might have heard about cornfields, I bet you never thought that you could actually grow corn in containers.

Yup, you can actually grow this long, heavily pollinated plant in your laundry basket in the comfort of your home. Crazy right!! A lot of organic cultivators and gardeners have been trying for a long time to grow corn in containers and we finally bring you the complete guide to how to grow corn in a container. This is your one-stop destination for all the information you could ever need. Let’s get started.

Why Grow Corn In Containers?

Now we all know that when we hear about corn we imagine golden fields filled with fresh and ripe corn, dancing with the wind and looking like a scene out of a movie. And while that might look more satisfying, I honestly really don’t have acres of land. Just a backyard and some containers. But that does not mean I can’t grow my own corn.

While the harvest will be significantly small and the process is a little tedious it is all worth it to taste that sweet and salty kernels at the end of it all. Container corn takes very little space and gives almost the same result when compared to the corn grown in the field. You save a lot of space and you get organic corn. A win-win situation if you ask me.

Plus there are various different varieties of corn that you can try to grow in your backyard. While they look a little awkward in a pot or a container, they serve the same purpose. Corn also grows better if you plant it in bunches. So if you are really a corn fan you can devote some containers to it and make your life a lot easier when it comes to pollinating.

How To Plant Corn In Containers Or Pots?

There are a few steps you have to follow if you want to get a perfect batch of corn in the end. There are a variety of procedures you have to go to but if you are a veteran in the gardening world this will be a piece of cake for you. And for all those beginners out there don’t worry, it might seem a little challenging but we are here to help you throughout the process.

Following Are The Steps You Need To Follow To Plant Corn In Containers:

Step 1:Choosing the right varieties:

It is very important to choose the right kind of corn variety. Not every variety will be compatible with container growing. You need to do adequate research to find the best one that fits you and your needs or capabilities. Luckily, we have considerably reduced your research work. Following are the things/varieties of corn you should keep in mind while growing it in containers:

Short stemmed varieties: If you choose a variety that is short-stemmed it will have a much better chance at success unlike its other large and tall sisters. You need to choose corn that is short-stemmed and easier to maintain. Corn like the Sweet Painted Mountain or the Trinity requires much less space and is bred to blossom in tighter and compact spaces.

Container Varieties: There also some special corn seedlings available which are specifically bred to be grown in containers. Although these corns might be easier to grow, they do require the help of pesticides and fungicides which might taint the organic charm of container gardening. Burpee’s On Deck’s corn seeds are still GMO-free, and albeit they can’t be considered organic, they at least don’t seem to be treated.

Step 2:Choosing the right containers:

As we’ve all come to realize, corn really doesn’t vibe with small and compact places. And hence buying a suitable container is an integral part of the process. You can’t choose a flimsy and weak container or pot that will most likely tip over when your corn grows fully. You need to find a container that is relatively sturdy and spacious and has drainage holes to avoid any waterlogging.

They also need to have adequate width and depth so that your corn can blossom completely. You will at least need a container that is 12 inches wide and about 13 inches deep. In a container of this diameter, you will only be able to fit about 3 – 4 plants so you might need a few containers. An ideal choice would be a large terracotta pot, a sturdy garbage bin, or a whiskey barrel. Make sure to drill a few holes at the bottom of the container to ensure a seamless water drainage system.

Step 3:The right potting mix:

Having the correct potting mix is imperative. It acts as a foundation and will truly determine how well your corn grows. Corn is very infamous for being a ‘greedy plant’. It requires a lot of nutrients and your soil needs to be replenished continuously or it might strip away all its goodness. You need to start with a fine and loamy potting mix. You have to incorporate some rich soil and feed your plant more nutrients at regular intervals.

Make sure you use garden soil that can retain some moisture. Corn needs a lot of water so a container that is designed to retain moisture will make your life a lot easier. You can also add some fish emulsion or any other all-purpose fertilizer to the mix to ensure that you have a lot of nutrients in your soil. Corn especially feeds heavily on nitrogen and phosphorus, so make sure you boost that before you start to plant your seedlings.

Step 4:Planting Corn: Sun and Water:

Now let’s get to the main part of the process, planting the corn!! We’ve waited a long time for this and from here, the journey gets much simpler and less confusing. To plant your corn, space the seeds about 3 to 4 inches away from the border. Also, keep a 3-inch space between each side.

Corn is known to be beneficial when grown in close bunches as it helps a lot with its pollination. But you also have to be careful to not overcrowd the container. So make sure you don’t plane more than 4 seeds in each container. When planting the corn seeds, wear garden gloves and dig a hole with your finger about an inch deep into the soil. Place your seed inside and lightly rake soil over it. Make sure you don’t press the area above and around it too harshly.   

After you’ve planted your corn it is very important to place it in a spot that meets all its heavy requirements. Corn is a summer plant through and through and hence it needs to be situated in a place that has at least 6-8 hours of sunlight that can keep its soil warm. It will be beneficial to place it against a wall that can retain heat and reflect light. They are also moisture heavy plants and they need a lot of water.

After planting your seeds make sure you saturate it with abundant water (but make sure not to waterlog your container). You need to water your corn every other day and extra sunny days or when the plant is fruiting, you need to water it daily to make sure it has sufficient water and the soil is filled with adequate moisture. 

Step 5:When to grow and container care:

You can absolutely not plant your corn when there is frost in the air. Corn, as we discussed earlier, is a summer plant, and any frost in the weather can kill your plant. Depending on where you live, you want to plant your corn in late April or early May.

Corn grows very quickly and hence if you plant it at the beginning of summer, it is most likely that you will be able to harvest it during mid-summer. Which also is conveniently the best time to have corn. Corn will usually germinate within 10 – 14 days in relatively cool weather (55 – 60 degrees) and if you live in extremely hot weather it can also germinate in as fast as 6 days (65 degrees or more). You also want to ensure that the weather isn’t that humid as that might cause the plant to get infected very easily. 

Container Care is also very important when it comes to growing corn. While you want to make sure that the soil is heavily moisturized, you don’t want your container to be waterlogged. Growing corn needs a very good drainage system. Make sure your container is clean to avoid many diseases and pests. 


Growing corn in bunches rather than rows is much more beneficial when it comes to pollination. Put your corn plants at least 4- 5 inches away from each other. It is integral for the corn containers to have close proximity. Make sure you keep different varieties of corn farther away from each other (around 15 – 20 inches) to avoid cross cultivation. 

Corn Plant Care:


Corn cannot compete with weeds. If there are any weeds growing around your corn make sure you eliminate them by cutting them from the soil. At this point, the roots of the corn will also grow so make sure you don’t harm that in the process. Do not remove any side shooters or suckers that appear during the process, as they won’t harm your growth. Cutting these might backfire on you as they can damage the roots of your plant. Corns usually do not need much pruning. All you have to do is remove any weeds that might grow in your container. 


Mixing in some healthy organic compost will act as a great boost for your soil. You can easily make some compost by mixing chicken manure (well-composted), grass clippings, and fish emulsion. Since corn is a heavy feeder, composting will really give your soil the extra boost it requires. Add a gallon scoop of compost for a 1-foot diameter container or pot. Mix the compost well with the soil. This will give your growing plants all the nutrients it requires for healthy and quick growth. Although you have to take care of not hindering the growth of your plants in any way by damaging its roots while you are mixing. 


Mulching is necessary for a plant like corn. It helps retain excess moisture from the plant so that you have to waterless, and it will also curb excessive weed growth by blocking any direct sunlight on your soil. Make sure that you mulch in regular intervals to not only give your plant an extra boost but to also protect it from the wind and sunlight.

Fertilizing: When and How:

As we discussed earlier, Corn requires a continuous replenishment of nutrients.  Hence fertilizing in regular intervals is very important. You need to start your fertilization about 9 weeks after germination. Any fertilizer with a 5-10-10 or a 10-20-20 is going to be ideal for your plant. If you are using a dry fertilizer make sure it doesn’t touch the plant directly to avoid any burning. Your fertilizer should be well incorporated with the soil. It is advisable to use a liquid fertilizer so that you can avoid diseases and burning, and can also easily incorporate the fertilizer into the soil. 


Corn does not deal well with transplantation. Not only is it difficult, but there is also a high chance of you damaging the roots and hindering the growth of the plant. Hence when you are planting corn make sure you are planting it in its final spot, until you are ready to harvest it. 

Pests and Diseases:

There are various different pests and diseases that can infect your corn plant very easily. Enumerated below are a few of them:

Corn earworms are a few of the most common insects that can infect your plant. They are especially a big headache in the central and southern states. The earworm moths ordinarily lay eggs onto the corn silks and the larvae which slowly creep in feast on the tips of the developing corns. These notorious yellow-headed worms grow up to 2 inches in height and have stripes of colors yellow, brown, or green on their bodies. 

A simple home remedy to avoid your plant being prey to earworms, take a dropper or a spray bottle. Fill it up with a mixture of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), vegetable oil, a few drops of dishwashing liquid, and water. You can put this solution on the tip of your ears a few days after your silks start emerging. 

Another common pest when it comes to corn is the European Corn Borers. They are about an inch long and are flesh-colored with tiny black dots on their body. These are the type of bugs that feed on foliage, mostly on the top where the new leaves and tassels start to emerge. You need to apply BT or Spinosad early in order to ensure the borers don’t come for your plants. 

Another household name when it comes to corn is the  Cucumber beetle larvae, commonly known as corn rootworms. As their name suggests, they feed on corn roots, which causes the plant to debilitate and die. Adults larvae are yellow beetles with black spots or stripes. To kill these infamous rootworms, you need to apply Heterorhabditis nematodes to the soil and mix it in well.

There are also various animal pests that can damage your corn yields severely. Birds are a menace during both seeding and harvesting time, whereas raccoons are highly fond of the ears which are ripening progressively.

Hand pollinating:

Pollination truly makes or breaks this plant. Pollination is a very very important process of growing corn. To achieve proper kernels, the tassels (top of the plant) need to be deposited onto the silk of each ear. If the silk is unpollinated then you will not have a fully grown kernel.

Usually, in container growing, there aren’t rows and rows of corn and wind to help you with the pollination. But don’t worry you can easily establish pollination yourself. You need to start collecting pollen immediately after your silks start to emerge and tassels become a little loose.

Hand pollinating can take place in the morning where there is minimal to no breeze and shake/ruffle the tassels over a bucket or some container to collect pollen. Do these with other plants as well and store them in a small paper bag. Then take some of the powdery substance and manually sprinkle it over each ear in your plants. You can do this every alternate day to establish proper growth.

Harvesting your corn: When and How:

It is finally time to harvest your corn and enjoy this delicious goodness that you spent a lot of time and care after. Your corn usually gets ready within 60 – 100 days depending on the weather you live in.  We’re at the home stretch so make sure you follow each step. Three weeks after your silks appear keep checking the top of your ears for peak ripeness.

To ensure that they are ripe and ready, pull back the husk a little bit and pierce a kernel with your fingernail. If there is a milky liquid that emerges, then your corn is at prime ripeness and it’s time to harvest!! Don’t worry, if your other ears aren’t ripe already; ears on the same stalk should be ripe within the next few days. You don’t want to wait for too long or else you will find an ear that is past prime. When you find completely dry silk or a yellow/faded green sheath, it means that the ear is overripe. 

After you harvest it store it in your fridge or freezer and enjoy fresh and organic corn at your disposal. 

Is It Worth It?

Corn as we discussed earlier, isn’t exactly a plant that is container friendly. And so you will obviously not have the same result you would have in a field. This isn’t the plant for you if you feel as if you’ll be disappointed by seeing 2 to 3 ears of corn. But if you enjoy watching those tall tassels dancing in the air, and you just want to bite into that fresh and organic corn; What are you waiting for? Get started by grabbing a container now!!


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