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How to Start Corn Seeds

By Traci Joy ; Updated September 21, 2017
Give your corn a head start by planting the seeds indoors.
Corn on the stalk image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com

Corn seeds are usually directly sown into the garden with very little effort, but there is no reason that you can't start your corn seeds indoors and then transplant the seedlings. There are advantages to starting corn seeds ahead of time, such as knowing exactly what seeds will sprout and getting an earlier start on your summer corn harvest. Whether you choose to start your corn seeds in the ground or indoors, only a few supplies and a little effort are required.

Starting Corn Seeds In The Garden

Loosen the soil 6 inches deep, using a shovel or rototiller, and rake it smooth.

Plant corn seed 1 inch deep, and cover well. Tap the dirt firmly down over the corn seed.

Water well, but do not saturate the ground.

Starting Corn Seeds Indoors

Fill 3-inch, individual peat pots 2/3 full with a potting soil mix and water enough to moisten the soil.

Lay the corn seed on top of the soil, and then cover the seed with another inch of soil, packing the soil down firmly.

Place the pots in a plastic tray, and place the tray in a warm, sunny window. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, as the seedlings grow.

Set the seedlings outside in the daytime to harden off when they reach 2 to 3 inches tall and temperatures outdoors are warming up. Place the seedlings where they will have full sun, but be blocked from wind. After 10 days of hardening off, plant the seedlings, still in the peat pots, in the garden, 1 inch deeper than the peat pot with 10 inches between the pots.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel or rototiller
  • Peat pots
  • Plastic tray


  • If planting outdoors, wait until two weeks after the last expected frost date for your area. Start the corn seeds indoors at least four to five weeks before the last expected frost date. If you are unsure about the last frost date, contact your local county cooperative extension.
  • If you question the quality of your soil, add a 12:12 fertilizer, available at any garden center, in the amount of 4 lbs. per 100 square feet of corn.
  • To have a continuous crop of corn, plant a row every 10 days. This way you can stagger your harvest.


  • Plant corn in shorter rows next to each other, instead of one long row, as corn is wind-pollinated. Rows next to each other will help with pollination.

About the Author


A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."