How to Grow Corn in Containers

Zea Mays     Zones: 3-11     Full Sun     Soil pH 5.5 – 7.0

Fresh home grown sweet corn, straight off the stalk is undeniably the best you’ll ever taste. Utilizing simple time-tested techniques, you can use a limited garden space effectively to grow an abundance of this classic American staple crop. Anything can be grown in a container and corn, as big as it gets, is no exception.

When growing corn in containers, you need a container large enough. You don’t need to go out and buy expensive planters, Use your imagination. Wooden crate, garbage cans, laundry baskets and so forth will suffice so long as they are big enough to hold the plant and enough soil. Not only for the roots growth, but to serve as an anchor for the fully grown corn plants whisking in the wind.

A 12 inch pot will hold 3 full size corn plants comfortably – 4 if you want to stretch it. Depending on how many you want to grow, you may need several. A 20 inch pot will hold about 6.

The variety of corn you want to grow depends on you . Corn is wind pollinated and can cross pollinate very easily.

Pollen from different varieties will pollinate their neighbors as well as their own. The results are frequently not favorable. Not only will you not get ears of corn true to the variety you planted, but the affected ears are quite often inedible, sometimes hard and gritty and not as sweet or tender.

Unless you have a lot of space in which to keep them separated, in which case you’d probably be planting them in the ground – you should stick to one variety of corn at a time.

If you are hell-bent on trying several varieties in limited time and space, one strategy to prevent cross-breeding, which is much more feasible in small gardens, is to stagger planting times, maturation 14 – 18 days apart is optimal. Select varieties with different maturation intervals to avoid them both from releasing pollen simultaneously. See – Isolating Sweet Corn

Suggested Varieties

Some shorter stalk varieties of corn are – Sweet Spring Treat, Sweet Painted Mountain, and Trinity.

Some Fast Growing varieties are Bodacious, Bon Jour, Casino, and Early sunglow.


Using soil from your yard is not a good idea, it is advisable to use a potting mix formulated to retain moisture. The potting mix should have vermiculite and perlite incorporated into the blend. Adding some fertilizer such as fish emulsion is also advisable. If using standard fertilizer , a balanced 10-10-10 mix is best for corn.

Related: How to Grow Hydroponic Corn

Planting and Care

Plant the seeds about an inch deep and space them 4-6 inches apart, 3 – 5 seeds per 12″ container, use your judgement on smaller or larger containers. If planting multiple containers it’s a good idea to keep the containers spaced about a half foot apart.

Corn plants growing in a large, red plastic container.

Corn needs full sun, warm soil, water – it’s your job to see that they get it. In containers they are portable so can be moved periodically to take advantage of the prevailing flow of sunlight. They should receive a minimum of 6 hrs. daily.

Water regularly, the morning is best. 

Once the plants are roughly two feet tall a second modest watering in late afternoon would be advisable. Some organic mulch such as wood chips to help retain moisture is also a good idea.

Companion Plants

Plant corn together in the pot with some sweet peas or with pole beans. The beans fix nitrogen in your soil, which is good for the corn and the corn provides a trellis for the peas or beans to climb up, and they won’t hurt the corn plant.