How to Grow Corn Indoors

Ideally, corn should be grown outdoors in full sun during the summer, but if your space or conditions don't permit it or you'd like to try something different, try growing corn indoors. It's an unusual houseplant, and you just might get a meal or two out of your efforts.


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    Assemble the materials listed under "Things You'll Need".
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    Choose the sunniest place you have indoors. Aim for a sunroom, large window, preferably facing south or west, or under a large skylight.
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    Supplement the light. Corn will generally take as much light as you can give it, so consider supplementing the light, especially if you're serious about getting corn out of this experiment. You may have to supplement the light if you don't have enough natural light. Try fluorescent bulbs.
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    Choose a large container. Try a washtub or something of a similar size.
    • As with any houseplant, protect the surface underneath. Use a large plant saucer between the container and the floor.
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    Fill the container with soil. Use a rich potting mix with plenty of organic matter and nutrients. Optionally, add additional fertilizers according to package instructions.
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    Start from seed. Plant seeds one inch deep in the soil, 4–5 inches (10.2–12.7 cm) apart.
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    Water as necessary. Wait until the top of the soil dries out, and avoid watering so much that the roots are in standing water. Check for moisture before you water. Check at least weekly and remember that indoor containers will require less water than outdoor ones.
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    Thin to four or five plants per large container. Choose the strongest growers and pull the rest.
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    Help the pollination process. The best pollinator for corn is wind, and that's not available indoors. Instead, try gently shaking the plants as tassels start to appear. The tassels produce the pollen and the silk receives it. Each strand of silk corresponds to one kernel.[1][2]
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    Harvest corn right when you plan to eat it. Corn is ready to harvest when a the juice from a kernel is milky, not clear. Other signs are brown silk but a green husk.[3] When you've determined that an ear is ready, snap it off the stalk with a twisting motion and cook it as soon as possible.


  • Use a dwarf variety if one is available. Corn can be a very vigorous, tall plant, so plan for it to grow tall. Place your container on the floor, not elevated on a shelf.
  • Corn does not transplant especially well, so plan to keep indoors what you start indoors. If you do decide to move your indoor corn outdoors later on, do it gradually, by "hardening off" the plants. Place them outside for a short period of time at first, lengthening their time outdoors day by day so that they can acclimate gradually.
  • Set in a sunny window.
  • Place a larger tray or cloth underneath or plan to sweep or vacuum regularly as the corn plants start producing tassels.
  • You can also grow corn in a container outdoors, such as on a sunny patio.[4]
  • Try picking some of your indoor corn as "baby corn", "mini corn" or "candle corn". These are the miniature corncobs you may have seen in Asian food or at salad bars. They are not a special variety, just corncobs picked very small (2-4 inches), before pollination, when the silk first appears. [5]

Things You'll Need

  • Corn seeds
  • A sunny location
  • Artificial lighting as necessary
  • Potting soil
  • A large container
  • Floor or surface protection
  • Water
  • Fertilizer (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Growing Corn