How to Grow Corn in Different Types of Soil


Sweet corn is a favorite for home gardeners. There is no comparison between fresh corn bought in the grocery store and fresh corn straight from the garden. Corn is a warm season vegetable. It is a space hog. Each corn stalk needs about three square feet of soil to produce two ears of corn at the end of a 75- to 100-day growing period, depending on variety. Corn requires rich, loamy soil that drains quickly.

Step 1

Determine the type of soil you have. Test it yourself with a soil test kit. Take or send a sample to your local university's agricultural extension, or talk with neighbors or with a plant nursery. Once you know what kind of soil you have and its deficiencies, it's possible to add the amendments necessary for correction.

Step 2

Add sand, peat moss and organic material to clay soil and mix well. If the area isn't too large, add several bags of top soil as well. Clay doesn't drain well and doesn't hold organic matter. Corn prefers well-drained soil so it can take up oxygen through its roots. Clay holds water. It has a tendency to stick together, making it more difficult to dig.

Step 3

Add organic material and peat moss to sandy soil. Sand doesn't hold moisture. Corn needs a consistent level of moisture to grow quickly. Once the corn is stunted it may tassel before the silks are ready, which means no corn will be produced. Sandy soil is easy to dig.

Step 4

Build a raised bed over boggy soil with a depth of 18 inches. Boggy soil is caused by poor drainage in a yard or a low area. It is difficult to cure boggy soil with amendments; the drainage system of the yard has to be changed or the low area built up. A raised bed filled with good potting soil mixed with garden soil is a better solution.

Step 5

Add as much organic material as there is dirt to poor soil. Dig the bed to a depth of 12 inches and mix in well. It's not possible to counteract poor soil with additional fertilizer.

Step 6

Add gypsum to alkaline soil. Alkaline soil has a buildup of salts. The gypsum counteracts the alkalinity. Adding acid to the soil is difficult because it can burn the root systems of plants. Try using a fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants. Acid soil isn't a problem as most vegetables, including corn, grow well in acid soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves when handling fertilizer.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test kit
  • Sand
  • Peat moss
  • Organic material
  • Shovel
  • Potting soil
  • Raised beds
  • Gypsum
  • Fertilizer for acid loving plants


  • "The Desert Gardener's Calendar"; George Brookbank; 1999
  • "Burpee Complete Gardener"; Allan Armitage et al; 1995

Who Can Help

  • Backyard Gardener
Keywords: corn clay soil, corn sandy soil, corn poor soil

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.