The other day, I was reading about different varieties of corn in online seed catalogs. I started to wonder how tall corn could get, so I did some research to find out.
So, how tall does corn grow? Depending on the variety, most corn plants will grow to a height of 4 to 10 feet (1.2 to 3.0 meters) tall, although some varieties may grow even taller. However, environmental conditions such as temperature, soil quality, watering, and competition can all affect the height of corn.
Depending on your needs, you can choose corn varieties that grow taller (8 to 10 feet) or shorter (4-5 feet). We’ll look at some different corn varieties and their height, ear size, and time to maturity. We’ll also look at how to ensure that your corn grows to full height at maturity.
How Tall Does Corn Grow?
As mentioned before, the maximum height of corn can vary greatly by variety, ranging from 4 feet to 10 feet or more. The shorter varieties only grow to a height of 4 to 5 feet, while medium height varieties grow 6 to 7 feet tall, with the tallest varieties growing to a height of 8 to 10 feet. Here are some varieties, arranged in order of increasing height.
- Early Sunglow Hybrid – this corn can start early, since it does well in cooler weather. This makes it ideal for short growing seasons. The plant reaches a height of 4 feet, with ears that are 7 inches long. At 63 days to maturity, this corn is ready in only 2 months. For more information, check out Early Sunglow Hybrid on Burpee’s website.
- Baby Corn – this corn is great if you love baby corn for stir fries. These plants only grow to a height of 4 to 5 feet, with ears that are just 3 to 4 inches long. At 30 to 35 days to maturity, you will have baby corn ready just a month after planting! For more information, check out Baby Corn on Burpee’s website.
- Golden Bantam – this heirloom variety is another early starter, which can do well in cool weather. The plant grows to a height of 5 feet, with ears of corn that are 5 to 6 inches long. At 80 days to maturity, it will take a few months from planting to harvest mature ears. For more information, check out Golden Bantam on Burpee’s website.
- Sugar Buns – this early sweet corn matures quickly, making it another ideal choice for short growing seasons. The plant grows to a height of 5 feet, with ears of corn that are 7 inches long. At 60 days to maturity, it is one of the fastest-to-maturity varieties of corn. For more information, check out Sugar Buns on the Bonnie Plants website.
- Silver Queen – this variety yields large ears of corn with white kernels. The plant grows to a height of 5 feet, with ears of corn that are 8 to 9 inches long. At 92 days to maturity, you will have to wait a few months after planting to harvest mature ears of corn. For more information, check out Silver Queen on the Bonnie Plants website.
- Peaches & Cream – the name says it all: this corn yields ears that have both yellow (peaches) and white (cream) kernels. The plants grow to a height of 6 feet tall, with ears that are 8.5 inches long. At 70 days to maturity, the corn will be ready to harvest at just a little over two months after planting. For more information, check out Peaches & Cream on the Bonnie Plants website.
- Picasso Hybrid – the stalks and husks of this corn variety are deep purple. The plants grow to a height of 6 to 7 feet, with ears of corn that are 7 to 8 inches long. At 75 days to maturity, you will only need to wait 2.5 months after planting to harvest mature ears of corn. For more information, check out Picasso Hybrid on the Burpee website.
- Ruby Queen Hybrid – the kernels of this corn variety are red and sweet. The plants grow to a height of 7 feet, with ears of corn that are 8 inches long. At 75 days to maturity, you only have to wait 2.5 months before you can harvest mature ears of this unusual corn with red kernels. For more information, check out Ruby Queen Hybrid on the Burpee website.
- Glass Gem Ornamental – the kernels of this corn variety take on just about any color you can imagine, and they look like tiny gemstones! This tall corn variety grows to a height of 8 to 10 feet, with ears of corn that are 6 to 8 inches long. At 110 days to maturity, this variety is the slowest to mature on our list – you will wait almost 4 months from planting to harvest mature ears of corn. For more information, check out Glass Gem Ornamental on the Burpee website.
As you can see, most corn takes 2 to 4 months to reach full maturity, so if your plants aren’t as tall as you hoped for after a month or so, give them more time. Of course, there are some things you can do to make sure that you are providing your corn with everything it needs to grow as tall as possible.
How To Grow Big Corn
Various environmental factors can affect the height and health of corn, including temperature, spacing and competition, soil, and watering.
Soil Temperature For Growing Corn
The soil temperature must be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) for corn seeds to germinate and grow. In order to ensure that you don’t kill your corn seeds or inhibit their growth, be sure to wait to plant corn seed until a few weeks after the last frost in your area. To find the last frost date for your area, check out this frost date calculator from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Once corn plants germinate, they can withstand light frosts. However, soil temperatures should ideally be 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 29 degrees Celsius) in order to allow corn to thrive.
For more information, check out this article on growing corn from the University of New Hampshire Extension.
If you are worried about extreme temperatures, you can put mulch over the soil around your corn to insulate against temperature fluctuations on cool nights or hot days. Wood chips, grass clippings, leaves, straw, pine needles, or even compost will all work as mulch to insulate your soil.
For more information, check out my article on mulch and compost.
Spacing and Weeding For Corn
When planting your corn seeds, space them 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 centimeters) apart in a row, sown to a depth of 1 inch (2.5 centimeters). Leave 2.5 to 3 feet (0.8 to 0.9 meters) between rows, to give you space for watering, fertilizing, weeding, and harvesting your corn.
If you plant your corn too close together, the plants will compete with one another for water and nutrients. Most likely, you will end up with ears of corn that are small or missing some kernels.
For more information, check out this article from Texas A & M University on corn spacing.
Also, make sure to weed regularly to prevent your corn from having to compete with other plants. Some weeds may try to grow up your corn, using the plant itself as a trellis.
Soil For Growing Corn
The ideal soil pH for growing corn is between 5.5 and 7.0 (somewhat acidic to neutral). Outside of this range, some nutrients in the soil may become unavailable to the roots of your corn.
If your pH is too low (acidic), you can add lime (calcium carbonate) to raise the pH. For more information, check out my article on raising soil pH.
If your pH is too high (basic), you can add sulfur to lower the pH. For more information, check out my article on lowering soil pH.
Of course, before you add anything to your soil, you should always do a soil test to find out if your soil pH is off-balance. For more information, check out my article on how to do a soil test.
In addition to telling you the soil pH, a soil test will tell you the nutrient levels in your soil. If you send a soil sample to your local agricultural extension, they can also give you detailed advice about how to treat your soil. Just make sure to tell them what you are trying to grow in your garden.
Some common signs of nutrient deficiencies in corn are leaves that turn different colors. Use a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, to cure such nutrient deficiencies.
White leaves can often mean a nitrogen deficiency. Purple leaves often mean a phosphorus deficiency. For more information, check out my article on diagnosing nutrient deficiencies.
Remember that soil compaction can also cause growing problems for corn. To keep your soil loose, be sure to add compost to provide organic material to your soil.
This will help the soil to drain away excess moisture during wet weather and to retain water during dry spells. For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.
Watering Your Corn
As with most plants, the best way to tell if corn needs water is to test the soil with your fingers. Dig down to a depth of 2 to 3 inches, and if the soil is dry, you can water your corn.
If you see your corn leaves wilting in the middle of a hot day, check the soil and if it is dry, water immediately. Otherwise, plan on watering deeply in the morning, when the sun is not yet hot enough to quickly evaporate the water.
Watering deeply and less frequently encourages stronger roots than shallow, frequent watering. Remember that it is possible to over water your plants – for more information, check out my article on over watering.
By now, you have a better sense of the height, ear size, and days to maturity for some difference varieties of corn. You also have some ideas about how to give your corn the best chance to grow tall and healthy.
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information. If you have any questions or advice of your own about growing corn, please leave a comment below.