Ears of Silk in the Vegetable Garden

corn ripening stages

I’m not sure if that is a good title for this post, but I couldn’t think of a better one to describe my ripening corn in my vegetable garden.

Our corn stalks have really taken off in terms of growth.  Each day, they grow noticeably by inches.  Last week, the top part of the corn stalks began to form….the male part of the plant called the tassel.

Corn Ripening Stages

Corn Ripening Stages

Did you know that corn is actually an herb that comes from the same family as grass?

Corn Ripening Stages

Corn Ripening Stages

The tassels of the corn stalks are full of yellow pollen.

Our attention was so focused on the tassels that we did not initially notice something growing out of the sides of the corn stalks….

Corn Ripening Stages

Corn silk has started to form.  Each silk leads to a single ovary and when fertilized will turn in a single kernel of corn.

Now corn should be planted in rows of at least three to ensure pollination.  My vegetable garden only has two rows, so the kids and I assisted with the pollination process by lightly shaking the cornstalks once a day.  Whenever we do this, a light cloud of yellow pollen falls onto the silk.

Corn Ripening Stages

Once the corn has been fertilized, the silk turns brown within 30 minutes indicating that it has been successfully pollinated.  If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the pollen sticking to the silk.

corn stalk

Do you see what I see?  There are two ears on this corn stalk.  A corn stalk produces at least one ear of corn, but many varieties produce two.  The second forms after the first and is always smaller.

I bet you didn’t expect all of this corn trivia when you started to read this post, did you?  Well, I love learning new things and vegetable gardening is somewhat new to me and I find so much of what I have learned fascinating.

I hope you all have a great day!

Container Corn is “For The Birds”

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
12 replies
  1. Ami
    Ami says:

    Very informational post! The part you and kids helped corns got pollinated is very interesting. I will never know that if I did not read your post!

  2. Curbstone Valley Farm
    Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    We're not growing corn this year, but hopefully next year once the construction in the gardens is finished. I didn't realize that the silks turn brown quite that fast, although I have done the corn-shimmy-shake in the garden before to help the pollination process along. I look forward to seeing how your ears turn out!

  3. Floridagirl
    Floridagirl says:

    Great corn-growing information! And beautiful photos. I bet you and your family are excited to know that corn is coming. Wish I had room for corn rows.

  4. North of Sweden
    North of Sweden says:

    Very interesting-when we were children back home my parents had a a little farm and they grew grain and hay only to feed the cows. I´m a little bit curios about what you use corn mainly for. Nice pictures!

  5. Christine B.
    Christine B. says:

    When I was researching ornamental grasses for some presentations I gave this year, I discovered that corn was a "warm season" grass. Which means it grows most actively when air temps are 80-95F. That means my state will never be the corn producting capital of the U.S. We rarely get a day over 75F in the summer. How sad for me…I love corn!

    Christine in Alaska, corn-less

  6. sweet bay
    sweet bay says:

    Great post about growing corn. I did not know that it was a member of the grass family. I bet you're looking forward to harvesting it, nothing is better than homegrown.

  7. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Even if i already know the science of pollination and fertilization, it is nice to read them in layman's terms. I am amused too! Your corn is so healthy and very well fed. I wish you also include a photo of all the corn plants, a wide angle of the garden. thanks Noelle. How do you use the corn, will you just boil them?

  8. gippslandgardener
    gippslandgardener says:

    Wow. There were lots of things that I didn't know about corn in that post! But I'm very glad for the information as I am hoping to give growing corn a try again later this year – thanks Noelle!

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