Can You Grow Corn In A Pot?
Last updated: 10/10/19
At first glance, the question of, “Can you grow corn in a pot” raises a challenge to people like me.
You see I never grew up in the bread basket section of the US. My experience as a city dweller limited some of my capabilities to plant corn.
This gave me a unique outlook, so I embarked on experimenting with this myself
But is it really possible to grow corn in a pot isolated from those that grow in large fields or in your own backyard garden?
The answer is yes, it’s definitely possible and it can also be a highly gratifying experience.
This gardening method requires personal effort to ensure the successful planting, caring and harvesting of the corn plants.
It offers planters the excitement of watching the plants grow individually, the satisfaction of successfully nurturing them.
Seeing them flower and bear their ripe and nutritious cobs.
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Being Small is Convenient
Do you believe it’s a practice worth emulating? If yes, I’ll join you through this article and guide you all the way from start to finish.
You will find that the benefits outweigh the downsides.
You’ll get a different view of having corn growing in containers in a predetermined space right where you live and not somewhere in a huge field.
It may be just a small space, but it is convenient to manage and its fruits, though few in number, are just as gratifying and a treat to enjoy.
Just think for a minute what the really big farmers have to do to work their huge corn fields.
There’s the application of weed killers, the plowing, seed broadcasting, spraying of insecticide and finally the harvesting, all gargantuan tasks.
The rewards are huge also but just imagine all that activity and machinery and the huge space needed not to mention the expenses!
Yes, as the saying goes, small is beautiful.
You’re looking for a tiny weenie niche in comparison, but with the same kind of thrill and satisfaction without the huge size and all the minuses that go with it.
Do you have space available in your backyard, at the side of your house, under the patio or even your rooftop?
These are the type of spaces you’d need for your corn growing project.
Choosing Your Containers or Pots
Selecting the right container shouldn’t be a problem provided you keep in mind that corn prefers big, open spaces.
This means that the container you choose should, as far as is practical, mimic the kind of freedom that the big fields provide for corn plants.
For mimicry to be successful, you’d need very good drainage, depth for the main root, width for nutritional intake and of course stability.
Very good drainage needed? It’s easy, just a few holes in the bottom of the container.
Why are these aspects important? Because your container is destined to ensure that your corn plants will grow in an environment that is almost as similar as the environment that corn plants naturally grow in.
It is not difficult to copy nature’s ecosystem on a smaller scale. You just need to combine the elements into a whole to make it work for your corn plants.
For example, a disused whiskey barrel would be a suitable container that can hold 8 – 10 plants.
Corn Is A Social Plant
Corn is reputed to enjoy the company of other plants growing in the same gardening space.
This does not only benefit you as a planter in having healthy corn plants, it also benefits the terrestrial ecosystem in a kind of symbiotic existence.
You may have heard of the “Three Sisters” method of planting, used by Native Americans, so you know what is involved here.
Three plants, corn, climbing beans and squash planted together in the same spot form this triad symbiotic chain of co-existence.
The fast growing corn provides support for the climbing beans when young. The spiraling climbing beans in turn support the corn before the cobs appear and help support the corn stalk.
The climbing beans also fix nitrogen in the soil and fertilize all three. There are benefits galore here.
But it would be unfair not to mention what the leaves of the squash do.
Squash leaves are tough and they provide protection for the tender leaves of the climbing beans from hungry pests.
The plant even goes as far as discouraging hungry animals like raccoons from invading the garden.
Corn also pollinate other corn plants through wind action which means that in order to grow well, corn must be planted closely together; you and the plants both benefit.
The Win-Win Planting Strategy
The containers you’ll be using won’t be movable once they’re filled, so you should place them early where sunlight is greatest.
Corn plants need lots of sunlight for growth as do the corn plants out in the huge fields so it would be wise to pick space with plenty of sunlight for you corn plants and allow them to grow to 6 – 8 feet.
The position is just right for your corn plants to grow and you get the benefit of cool shade throughout the summer season.
Filling Up Your Container
At this point, it’s critical to know that corn is insatiable when it comes to nutrients.
The plant requires so much nutrient as nourishment it tends to absorb all the nutrients in the soil very quickly and the earth becomes devoid of nutrients.
The soil must therefore be replenished to boost its strength so the type of nutrients that are injected back into the soil is very important.
Drainage is not as critical for corn plants grown in containers as the soil that you mix to place in your container to boost nutrient content.
This is why it’s important for you to do it properly the first time and for the rest of the time you plants are growing.
Corn needs trace nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus so you need to know the amount of these nutrients in the soil before you plant your corn.
How to Mix Your Nutrient Rich Compost
Most people who involve themselves in gardening know that a mixture of several soil boosting compost always include manure (preferably chicken manure), fresh cuttings of grass and fish emulsion.
When thoroughly mixed properly, it will even hold sandy soil together.
This is a fantastic way to boost the nutrients in your container and an added benefit due to availability and low cost of the ingredients.
All you need to do is apply about a gallon of the newly made compost.
Next, add to the soil already in the container and you are assured that your soil has all the nutrients your corn plants will need to grow well.
Make sure that the mulch texture is thick enough to hold moisture and porous enough to let water drain through it and carry nutrients to roots further down inside the container.
Let’s say you now have everything ready to start planting your corn.
You should plant your seeds some 6” from each other along the perimeter of your container, about 3 or 4 inches away from the rim at a depth of about an inch deep.
Water is essential for good growth so drench your seeds well with water at the start and sunlight will germinate… within 10 to 14 days but less, in warmer climates.
Keep The Soil Moisturized
The continued presence of water during the growing stage is critical because corn thrives in moist soil and you should ensure the soil in your container is always watered.
Try to create good drainage for your plants to help them thrive and keep the water coming so that nutrients circulate freely inside the container and waste water is drained out of the container.
The best routine for this is to water your plants every second day, but every day during hot dry seasons.
Harvesting the Cobs is Your Reward!
While yields are small given the limited space, harvesting corn that you grow yourself should give you a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
After succeeding with your first plants you might want to increase your corn space for your next planting.
Growing your own corn at negligible cost should be a morale booster for your productive ego and you just may succeed in growing more corn next season.
There’s great value and benefit for you when you prove that you can grow corn in a pot.
- What are the main varieties of corn suited to container planting? The short-stemmed or dwarf variety types grow much better in containers
- What are the specific choices that people have in choosing these dwarf varieties? The best choices now available are the ‘Trinity’ and ‘Sweet Painted Mountain’ strains. These varieties can grow to 4 or 5 feet in height.
- What is the container size best suited for planting corn plants? You should look out for a large container that has a width and depth of 12 inches, should have good drainage holes in the bottom part.
Bigger containers may be needed depending on the number of people in the family.