Ornamental corn is an annual cereal that differs from traditional corn in the variety of coloration of the kernels on the cob, both single kernels and whole cobs, and much nicer-looking leaf blades.
Is ornamental corn edible?
Basically, ornamental corn grains contain an excessive amount of starch, they are quite hard, and even when cooked, the ears are considered unsuitable for food. You can use grains of such corn for making popcorn, as well as for making corn flour.
It is permissible, however, to eat ornamental corn grains, but only when they are at a very young age, that is, in a state of milky ripeness.
Use in garden design
Ornamental corn can be used in design as you like when it comes to living plants with beautiful leaf blades and original multi-colored cobs. They can be planted both solitary on the site, and made of them hedges or framing paths, positioning them in such a way that they do not obscure neighboring plants, because the height of even decorative corn can reach more than 2 meters. In autumn, the cobs can be collected and decorated with them in the kitchen, creating original design solutions, of course, if the style of the kitchen allows the use of vegetable crops in design.
Growing ornamental corn
The agricultural technology of growing a number of ornamental varieties sometimes differs from the general agricultural technology of corn. The common thing is that ornamental corn is a plant that loves warmth, adores open places, well heated by the sun, but at the same time, reliably protected from the north wind and draft. As for the soil, ornamental corn loves soil with abundant fertility, air and moisture permeable, and always has plenty of moisture.
Decorative corn, like ordinary corn, is propagated by sowing seeds into the ground, this, of course, needs to be done in the soil previously dug on a full bayonet with a shovel, with the removal of all weeds and the simultaneous introduction of a couple of kilograms of well-rotted manure, a tablespoon of wood ash and a teaspoon of nitroammophoska per square meter.
The optimal time for sowing seeds is May or April, if the spring is early and the soil has already warmed up well enough (+5 ... + 11оС). The seeds are deepened by 5-7 centimeters, carefully sprinkled with soil and watered from a watering can, spending a bucket of water per square meter of soil.
It is better to sow fresh seeds, if you are not sure of their quality, then you can play it safe, and before sowing, warm the seeds for a couple of days on the southern windowsill, and then soak them 2 hours before sowing in a cloth soaked in any growth stimulant, for example, in Epin , Zircon, Heteroauxin and similar preparations, strictly following the instructions on the package. Better to soak in water warmed to room temperature.
When sowing, try to leave the distance between the seeds according to the further purpose of the plants. So, if you want to create a picturesque hedge or curtain, then it is advisable to leave a distance of 20 cm between the seeds.If you want to get fully developed cobs to decorate a living room with them or taste them, then the distance between the plants must be doubled.
When the soil is warm enough, seedlings usually appear after a week, and sometimes a little more. Usually not all seeds sprout - about 75-80%.
Further care is regular watering, especially during dry periods of the year, improving the soil with complex mineral fertilizers, loosening the soil and fighting weeds.
Watering should be done as the soil dries up, always focusing on the weather outside the window. If it is raining and the soil is saturated with moisture, then watering is not at all necessary.If there is no rain for a long time, then watering can be done every evening, pouring a bucket of water at room temperature per square meter.
Starting from about the second half of summer, when the corn forms a sufficiently powerful root system, you can water every other day, again focusing on the weather.
As for dressings, they are most appropriate to carry out during the period when the corn is blooming, as well as at the beginning of the formation of the cobs. The best option here is to use a nitroammophoska dissolved in water. During the flowering period, you need to dissolve a teaspoon of nitroammophoska in a bucket, and use the entire resulting solution, pouring it under each plant. And during the ripening of the cobs, double the fertilizer dose, at the same consumption rate.
Loosening of the soil and weed control should be carried out as needed.
Corn, depending on the variety, can be decorative both throughout the season, if we are talking about variegated leaves, and during the ripening period, when the grains on the cob acquire an attractive color. The cobs ripen, becoming as decorative as possible, usually towards the end of September.
Ornamental corn varieties
Over the years of breeding work, many varieties of ornamental corn have been bred, but given that in our zone the demand for ordinary corn is not very high, it is even lower for varieties of ornamental corn. Therefore, we will present varieties that are easy to purchase at any garden store.
Magic Kaleidoscope - its ears, alas, are not edible. The variety differs in that it gives ears, in which the grains are painted in almost all colors of the rainbow. The grains are very dense, they have a high starch content. The variety is resistant to diseases and pests. Seeds can be sown at standard times. Plants are used as an attractive hedge, and they often decorate the interior with cobs, they hang without damage until the next harvest.
Amero - a very tall plant, it can reach a height of 2 m. The plant has stems, literally covered with ribbon-like and variegated leaves - the stripes on the leaf blades can be colored green, yellow, pink and red. Plants of this variety are ideal for group plantings, for a nice looking hedge or to hide some unsightly part of the site.
Grains in milk ripeness are quite possible to eat, they are very tasty, even though they are also multi-colored, with a pearl tint, but they contain less starch than in the previous variety.
The peculiarity of the variety is that the seeds sprout slowly. Before sowing seeds, you need to warm them up for a week on the windowsill of southern orientation, then soak them for a day, placing them in a cloth moistened with water at room temperature, with any growth stimulant dissolved in it.
Sowing seeds of this variety should be done no earlier than in mid-May, while the soil should warm up to 7 degrees Celsius to a seeding depth of 7 cm. Further care is standard.
Gem - the ears of this variety are small, the grains in them are small, and all of different colors. The grains are arranged in a checkerboard pattern with a predominance of colors such as yellow, snow-white, black and brown.
The variety is very fond of the most fertile soils, always with plenty of moisture, and areas open to the sun.
The variety is good as curtains and hedges, for framing unsightly buildings, as a background culture, as group plantings or framing paths.
Strawberry - reaches a height of 2 m. The variety is very demanding on the amount of heat, loves nutritious soil and plenty of moisture. It is necessary to sow seeds only in the most open and well-lit place, but always protected from the cold wind.
In milky ripeness, the ears can be used for food, their small grains in ripeness have a ruby-scarlet hue, and the ears themselves from a distance resemble strawberries ..
Seeds sprout hard, so before sowing, they need to be warmed up on the southern windowsill for a week, and then soaked according to the scheme described above. Sowing should be done no earlier than mid-May, when the soil warms up as well as possible. The cobs are formed in August.
Rainbow - the ridge of this variety - very bright and striped leaf blades. The plant itself can exceed a height of 2 m. The leaf blades have green, yellow and pink stripes. The cobs appear in August. This variety is used to create group plantings, to hide unsightly places in the garden and just to decorate the site.
Colorful Ribbon Is a very thermophilic variegated variety with very attractive leaves and small ears. The plant is not very tall, rarely exceeds 1 m. On the leaves you can see snow-white, pinkish, purple and green stripes.
Seeds of this variety can be sown in late April or early May, preferably in moist and always warmed up to +10 degrees and above soil. Seeds are covered by no more than 5 cm. Seeds germinate as actively as possible at a temperature of 14-16 degrees above zero.
You can also grow through seedlings, be sure to place the seeds in peat-humus pots, so as not to injure the delicate roots during transplantation. In this case, a transplant to a permanent place should be carried out at the beginning of June, so as not to risk it. The optimum distance between plants for this variety is 35 cm.
Mother of Pearl Miracle - reaches a height of 1.5 m and has elegantly beautiful leaf blades. The plant looks great as a single plant, but you can also place it in group plantings. The striped leaf blades droop slightly and have green, yellow, pink, orange, and even scarlet stripes.
In milky ripeness, you can eat corn kernels, as well as use the cob for decoration.
Seeds of this variety are demanding on heat - the soil where they should be sown should warm up to + 11 ° C or more. The seeding depth should not exceed 4 cm. Seed germination, as a rule, is not very high, therefore, sometimes three seeds are placed in one place at once, and the distance between the "piles" is left at least 45 cm, with a width between rows of 75 cm.
If you are interested in them, feel free to purchase seeds and sow them in flower beds and ornamental gardens, remember - corn consumes a large amount of nutrients and moisture, so you should not forget about fertilizing and watering.