Gardening – Container Sweet Corn: Impossible? Think Again


Container super sweet corn in four each 4 gallon water jugs. We transplanted three seedlings per container for a total of one dozen plants. When the tassels began to emerge we bundled the containers together like this for optimum cross pollination. The result? So far one dozen total ears on 10 of the 12 stalks.

R Dub grew up on a one acre property in the middle of a small town community. Mom and dad utilized roughly 1/4 of the property for gardening for many of the 18 years that I lived with them.

There were many ‘favorite’ crops in that garden. Radishes, peas, carrots, kohlrabi were among my favorites to pluck and eat. However, my VERY favorite produce was sweet corn. Obviously not a pluck and eat item, but always a produce that was greatly anticipated.

When Beth and I planned and mapped out our garden for Operation Green Thumb there was silent agony from yours truly that our raised garden beds would not have room for sweet corn.

Well..to be specific…there was not a big enough bang for the real estate needed to grow sweet corn in the beds. We opted for plants that would yield more in the bed space available. Not enough juice for the squeeze, if you will.

We frequently watch gardening YouTube videos. When the subject of container gardening popped up, we began to spend more time studying which crops would grow best in containers. Potatoes was first and that turned out great! Quickly we added peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower and squash to our container gardening.

Then it happened. Sometime in June a container sweetcorn video emerged in our suggested viewing. It was a bitter sweet viewing. We were happy that sweet corn could indeed be grown in a container, but alas had we known this in late May or early June R Dub’s craving for home grown sweet corn could be satisfied…

But wait! More YouTube gardening videos featuring mid summer succession planting assured us that corn planted in July would have plenty of time to mature prior to fall frost kill! Awesome!

Short story long. We started seedlings under grow lights in late June and transplanted the 12 best seedlings to containers in early July.

Super sweet corn and candy corn seedlings on July 1, 2021. We were able to transplant one dozen of them into four gallon water jugs.

Early on in the process, an unnamed visitor of Beth’s mom Helen stated with some confidence that we were wasting our time growing sweet corn in containers. We would most likely not get a harvest worthy product.

Two months later we have a dozen ears on 10 of our 12 stalks. Ears that are beginning to fill nicely. Helen’s unnamed guest may still be correct..but…challenge accepted.

The bamboo pole supporting our tallest stalk is 6 feet long. Most of the stalks are between 5 and 6 feet tall.

By October we will know for sure. How will we know? Good question. Sweet corn is ready for harvest roughly 20 days after silt appears. So sometime in late September or early October, the silk should turn brown while the husks remain green.

The first ears to appear and show silk. This one is probably 2″ in diameter. One more inch or two would sure be nice!

Corn absorbs a lot of nutrients from the soil, so weekly fertilizing with fish fertilizer was in order. Corn also needs well drained soil making it perfect for containers like these. We drilled over 10 drain holes in the bottom of each water jug. Bonus, our warmer than normal late summer helped too.

Thank goodness for YouTube gardening videos. Our favorites? Next Level Gardening and MIgardener for two. There are many. Gardener Scott is great too, he reminds me of Red Green…but not as funny…not funny at all actually…

Published by R Dub's Rub

Conversational BLOG writer and contributing writer for LocaLeben magazine. My BLOG entries represent observations that intrigue, amuse, inspire or stimulate my appetite.

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