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How to Grow Purple Corn

indian corn image by John Keith from <a href=''></a>

Purple corn is also known as Indian corn. Grown for decorative purposes only, the genetic makeup of Indian corn gives its purple, white, yellow or multicolor kernels on one ear of corn that can be further impacted with cross pollination. Use the cob of purple corn, along with the attached dried husk, to make door wreaths, table centerpieces and other autumn crafts. Grow purple corn in the same manner as sweet corn.

Till an area to plant purple corn that is not near sweet corn to avoid cross pollination that can render the sweet corn inedible. The location should be at least 6 feet square, in full sun, and have good drainage. Use a garden rake to remove grass, weeds and stones.

Plant the seeds in late spring when the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees and danger of frost has passed. Read the back of the seed packet for planting dates in your area. Push seeds into the ground about 1 inch. To ensure no gaps in the row from seeds that do not sprout, plant two or three seeds about 1 inch apart at the same location.

Space the seed plantings about 6 inches apart or according to the package directions, which may suggest planting up to 12 inches apart. Plant in rows about 24 inches apart. Water lightly and keep the soil moist until the kernels sprout. When the corn sprouts, gently pull out the weaker stalks coming up in the same location to leave one, strong stalk.

Water deeply every seven to 10 days if there is no rainfall.

Fertilize when the tassel appears, which is the bloom at the top of the stalk. You can use a commercial granular fertilizer for vegetables. Sprinkle the fertilizer around the stalk and out about 3 inches. Water immediately. Alternatively, apply a water-soluble fertilizer using the garden hose.

Harvest the corn when the kernels are firm and the silky strings from the end of the ear have turned brown, which can take up to 110 days. To check the kernel firmness, pull the husk back from the silk end and press your thumb nail into a kernel. The kernel should not collapse or seep like sweet corn will when it’s ready for picking. Break or cut the cob from the stalk, keeping an inch or two of the stem for use in decorative applications, such as securing several ears at the stem for hanging from the door. To break a cob off the stalk, with the corn ear in hand, push down and twist at the same time.


After the corn is about 6 inches tall, spread leaf mold around the stalks and the open area between the rows to help retain moisture and block weed growth.


If the leaves roll, the soil is too dry, and poorly formed cobs could result with tip kernels that do not fill out.

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