Sweet Corn – How to Grow at Home

If you’re a fan of sweet corn, growing it at home can be a rewarding experience. Not only do you get to enjoy this fresh, delicious vegetable, but you also have the satisfaction of growing it yourself.

However, growing it can be challenging, especially for beginners. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the process of growing sweet corn at home, step by step.

1. How to Grow at Home

Before we dive into the details of growing sweet corn, let’s start with the basics. Sweet corn is a warm-season crop that requires full sun, warm soil, and plenty of water to grow.

sweet corn

The ideal temperature for is between 60 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The growing season is typically between 60 and 100 days, depending on the variety.

2. Corn Varieties

A wide array of sugar-enhanced and supersweet corn varieties exists, offering people the choice between yellow, white, or bicolor options within the SU, SE, and SH2 corn types.

While the term “variety” is sometimes used to refer to all seeds, it is important to note that “cultivar” is the appropriate term when discussing hybrid seed.

It is worth mentioning that although there are GMO (genetically modified organisms) corn seeds available (Roundup Ready Sweet Corn), none of the corn cultivars mentioned in this article are genetically modified.

Here are some highly recommended sugar-enhanced (SE) sweet corn varieties:

  1. Silver Princess
  2. Sweet Ice
  3. Silver King
  4. Honey Select
  5. Precious Gem
  6. Sweet Chorus
  7. Sweet Rhythm

Similarly, the following supersweet (SH2) corn cultivars are widely regarded:

  1. Affection
  2. Awesome XR
  3. Coastal
  4. Everglades
  5. Seminole Sweet XR
  6. Superb MXR

There are numerous other cultivars of sugar-enhanced and supersweet corn on the market. In case individuals are unable to find any of the recommended cultivars, they should not hesitate to explore alternative options.

When experimenting with different corn types, it is advisable to start by planting a small quantity to assess personal preferences before committing to cultivating an entire garden or field.

It is important to note that various types of sweet corn possess distinct flavors, shelf life, and necessitate specific management practices. Thus, growers should carefully select the corn variety that best aligns with their specific requirements.

2.1 Choose the “Right” Sweet Corn Variety

There are many varieties to choose from, and each has its unique characteristics. Some are sweeter than others, some mature earlier, and some are more resistant to diseases.

When choosing a variety of to grow, consider the following factors:

  • Days to Maturity: This refers to the number of days it takes for the corn to reach maturity. If you live in an area with a short growing season, choose a variety with a shorter maturity period.
  • Sweetness: Some varieties are sweeter than others. If you prefer your corn very sweet, look for a variety that is known for its sweetness (see below).
  • Disease Resistance: Some varieties are more resistant to diseases than others. If you want to reduce the risk of disease, choose a variety that is known for its disease resistance.

There are three main types of sweet or supersweet cultivars marketed to home gardeners:


The most common cultivar that you’ll find for home growing is referred to as “sugary.” You’ll typically be able to tell if it’s this type since you’ll find “SU” written somewhere on the seed packet or product listing.

sweet corn

This variety is more tolerant of cool conditions, but it doesn’t have a very long shelf life once off the plant.


There’s also a variety called “supersweet” which – the name being a bit of a giveaway here – has a very high sugar content. This variety is usually marked by “SH2,” which stands for shrunken seeds, or sometimes you’ll see a descriptor like “ultrasweet.”

Tese tend to be a little bit more temperamental than sugary cultivars and can be a bit more challenging to grow. SH2 varieties lasts around a week in the fridge.


The third type is also a supersweet variety. Like SH2, this type has a high sugar content, but the kernels last longer on the plant after harvest. It is usually referred to as “SE” for “sugar extended.”

SE varieties tend to be very sweet, tender, and crisp. This type is a little bit pickier about its growing conditions than the others, requiring warm soil temperatures. As a result, this can make it a bit more difficult to grow.

3. Prepare the Soil

You will need well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, prepare the soil by adding compost or well-rotted manure. This will improve soil fertility and help retain moisture. Sweet corn also prefers soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. If your soil is too acidic, add lime to raise the pH.

4. Planting the Seeds

sweet corn

Sweet corn can be grown from seed or transplants. If you’re starting from seed, plant them directly in the soil after the danger of frost has passed. Make sure the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit before planting. Plant the seeds in rows, with each seed spaced about 8 inches apart. Cover the seeds with 1 to 2 inches of soil.

5. Water and Fertilize

You must ensure you stick to a regular watering schedule, especially during hot, dry weather. Water the plants deeply once a week, or more often if the soil is dry. Sweet corn also requires regular fertilization to grow properly. Apply a balanced fertilizer every three weeks during the growing season.

6. Control Sweet Corn Pests and Diseases

Sweet corn is susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases, including corn earworms, cutworms, and rust. To prevent these problems, keep the area around the plants free of weeds and debris. You can also use natural pest control methods, such as planting marigolds or using neem oil.

6.1 Roundup Ready Sweet Corn

The advantage of Roundup Ready crops is that they greatly improved a farmer’s ability to control weeds, since glyphosate could be sprayed in the fields without harming their crops.

Today, over 89 percent of all corn, cotton and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically engineered to tolerate glyphosate — the active ingredient in Roundup.

7. Harvesting

Sweet corn is ready to harvest when the silks at the top of the ears turn brown, and the kernels are plump and milky. To harvest, hold the ear firmly at the base and twist it downward. Sweet corn is best eaten fresh, but it can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

sweet corn

Final Thoughts

Growing sweet corn at home can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and attention to detail. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully grow sweet corn in your backyard or garden.

Remember to choose the right variety, prepare the soil properly, water and fertilize regularly, and take steps to prevent pests and diseases.

With a little patience and hard work, you’ll be enjoying delicious, homegrown sweet corn in no time!

FAQs : Sweet Corn – How to Grow at Home

Q1. How long does Sweet Corn take to grow?

Sweet corn typically takes between 60 and 100 days to mature, depending on the variety.

Q2. How much sun is needed?

You need full sun to grow healthy stands of sweet corn plants, which means it needs at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Q3. How often should I water?

Sweet corn requires regular watering, especially during hot, dry weather. Water the plants deeply once a week, or more often if the soil is dry.

Q4. Can I grow Sweet Corn in containers?

While it can be grown in containers, it’s not recommended. Sweet corn has a deep root system and requires a lot of space to grow properly.

Q5. How do I know when it is ready to harvest?

When the silks at the top of the ears turn brown, and the kernels are plump and milky, your crop is ready to harvest.

Q6. Can I save the seeds?

Yes, you can save seeds from your sweet corn, but it’s important to choose the right variety and to ensure that the seeds are properly stored.

Q7. How do I prevent Sweet Corn pests and diseases?

To prevent pests and diseases, keep the area around the plants free of weeds and debris. You can also use natural pest control methods, such as planting marigolds or using neem oil.

sweet corn

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Molly Rankin

My love of vegetable gardening began as a hobby when our children were younger and I was at home a lot. I built this website so I can share my knowledge with as many people as possible about how to grow abundant, healthy, fresh vegetables.

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