House plants are the best way to bring nature indoors and add some green to any space. But most are high maintenance and require a lot of attention and care. Corn plants are a great alternative to other house plants! They’re low maintenance and can filter the air in your home. So long as they are given the right conditions, corn plants can thrive for many years.
Also known as the mass cane plant or false palm, corn plants (Dracaena fragrans) are broadleaf evergreen and make great house plants. Once you’ve got the hang of their specific growing requirements, these plants make a fantastic addition to your home!
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about growing and caring for corn plants.
What Is a Corn Plant?
Corn plants are a slow-growing tree native to Africa. They have thick, woody canes and long leaves with green and yellow stripes. As they’re tropical plants, corn plants love warm and humid environments. This means they are best grown indoors in most climates outside of the tropics. If grown outdoors, corn plants can grow as tall as 50 feet! But they typically reach 4-6 feet when grown as a house plant.
Corn plants can also produce small, fragrant white flowers that bloom at night. Although, this is a rare occurrence when grown indoors.
Are Corn Plants the Same as Sweet Corn Crops?
No, corn plants are not the same as sweet corn plants. They both come from completely different plant families – the only similarity is the name! Corn plants are called “corn” plants because the leaves and canes resemble corn stalks.
When Is the Best Time of Year to Plant Corn Plants?
The exact time to plant corn plants depends on your local climate. Typically, spring is the best time to start new plants. If you’re growing them as an indoor house plant, you can plant them anytime.
What Are the Best Conditions for Growing Corn Plants?
Corn plants are very easy to take care of once you’ve got the growing conditions right. Here are the best conditions for growing corn plants:
Corn plants thrive in bright indoor light. They can also tolerate some direct sunlight, but too much can burn the leaves. The best spot for your dracaena corn plant is next to a window that receives filtered sunlight.
You can also put your corn plant outdoors if your summers are warm and offer high humidity. A sheltered patio or porch works well – corn plants thrive well in low light conditions outdoors. Bring it back inside when the temperature drops below 60°F (15°C).
Temperature and Humidity
Corn plants prefer a temperature range between 60-75°F (15-24°C). Keep them away from drafts, heat vents, or air conditioning. Humidity levels should also be kept between 40-50%. You can mimic these conditions by grouping your plants together or using a humidifier.
A well-drained, loamy potting soil mix is perfect for corn plants. They also like slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0-6.5.
Choose a large, heavy pot that will support the tall plant. Make sure it has good drainage holes, as corn plants don’t like to sit in soggy soil. Clay pots are a good idea as they can help regulate soil moisture and temperature. You’ll also need to repot your plant every 2-3 years as it grows.
How to Grow Corn Plants
Growing your own corn plant at home isn’t as difficult as it sounds! You can either grow from seeds or purchase an already established plant. Growing from seeds requires a little more patience but can be very rewarding.
Growing Corn Plants From Seeds
- Purchase seeds specifically labeled as Dracaena fragrans from a reputable source.
- Soak the corn seeds in water for 3-5 days to help with the germination process.
- Add some seed starting mix to a small pot.
- Place the soaked seeds on top of the soil and cover them with a thin layer. Use 2-3 seeds per pot.
- Cover each pot with plastic wrap and place them on a heat mat. The soil temperature should be a consistent 70-80°F (21-27°C) to germinate the seeds.
- Use a grow light or place them near a window with plenty of full sun.
- Remove the plastic wrap and reduce heat to room temperature once the seeds have sprouted.
- Once they have grown 2-3 true new leaves, transplant the young plants to their own pot using a well-drained soil mix.
Planting an Established Corn Plant
- Purchase a healthy and established corn plant from a garden center or nursery.
- Choose a pot that is at least 2 inches larger than the existing one, with good drainage holes.
- Fill the new pot with a well-draining soil mix and water.
- Carefully remove the existing plant from its current pot and place it in the new pot.
- Gently fill in any gaps with soil and lightly press down – do not compact the soil.
- Place the plant in a location with diffused, bright light.
How to Propagate Corn Plants
You can also grow your own corn plants by propagating them from stem cuttings! This is a happy medium between the two other options – you don’t have to wait for seeds to germinate, but you also don’t have to purchase a fully established plant. You can propagate a corn plant indoors at any time of the year.
Here’s how to do it:
- Cut a 6-8 inch section of the stem from an established corn plant. There should be at least one node (or bump) on the cutting.
- Add some filtered or distilled water to a clean jar or glass and place the cutting in it. The node should be submerged in the water.
- Place the jar or glass in a warm location with bright, indirect sunlight.
- Change out the water every few days to keep it fresh.
- After a few weeks, you should see roots growing from the node.
- Once the roots are at least 1-2 inches long, you can transplant the cutting into its own pot with a well-draining soil mix.
- Treat it like an established plant and follow the same care instructions.
How Often Should You Water Corn Plants?
The growing season for corn plants is spring to fall. Keep the soil slightly moist but not soggy during this time. Once winter hits, you can reduce watering frequency, but don’t let the soil surface completely dry out. You can use a moisture meter to gauge the level of moisture in the soil.
Use filtered water where possible to water your corn plants. They can be sensitive to fluorides found in tap water.
Corn Plant Care Tips
To keep your corn plant thriving, here are a few care requirements to consider:
Corn plants don’t need much fertilizer as they are slow growers, but they can benefit from a little boost during the growing season. Use some well-balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during this time. You don’t need to fertilize during the winter months.
After a few years, you’ll notice the lower leaves of your plant turning yellow and dying off. This is a normal part of a corn plant’s growth cycle. Simply prune these leaves off to keep your plant looking its best.
You may also want to prune the top of the plant if it becomes too tall for your home. The best time to prune the tops of a corn plant is spring or fall. New growth will sprout from the top after pruning!
If you notice the roots of your corn plant are growing out of the bottom of its pot, then it’s time to repot. This usually happens once every 2-3 years. Choose a pot that is 2 inches bigger in diameter/depth than the current one and add fresh potting soil.
Another sign your corn plant needs repotting is if the soil is retaining too much water. This could mean the soil has compacted and is not allowing proper drainage.
Every house plant benefits from being rotated periodically. This helps promote even growth on all sides of the plant. Rotate your corn plant once a month, and it will thank you!
Dust and other debris can collect on the leaves of your corn plant, which can affect its ability to photosynthesize. Wipe down the leaves as needed to remove any build-up. This will also help prevent any pests from taking up residence on your plant.
Pest and Disease Control
Indoor corn plants don’t often suffer from pest and disease issues. But this doesn’t mean they are immune. Keep an eye out for any signs of pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, or scale insects.
Your plant may also get dry leaves or brown tips if they aren’t getting enough water or is receiving too much sunlight. Overwatering can also cause issues like root rot, so only water as needed.
Yes, corn plants (Dracaena fragrans) are toxic to cats and dogs. The plant contains saponins, which are dangerous if ingested. Always keep your corn plant out of reach of any curious pets.
Corn plants aren’t reliable bloomers! This is especially true for indoor plants. They may produce small, white flowers once they’re mature enough and grown in the right conditions, but it’s not guaranteed. It’s very rare for corn plants to produce flowers indoors.
The growth rate of your corn plant depends on various factors, such as lighting, temperature, humidity, and the quality of care you provide. They typically have a slow to moderate growth habit. It can take 2-3 years for an indoor corn plant to reach 6 feet tall.
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