How to Grow Glass Gem Corn


This post contains all you need to know about how to grow glass gem corn. Follow my step by step process and grow your own beautiful corn!

A woman's hand holding two ears of glass gem corn. one more purple and more more rainbow colors.

I first came across glass gem corn from watching Good Simple Living’s YouTube video from years back. I fell in love with it’s colors and wanted to try my hand at growing it. After growing glass gem corn myself, I have fallen in love with it even more. It is so exciting to pull down the husk and see what beautiful colors are hidden beneath.

What is Glass Gem Corn?

It is an American Indian corn that was brought back when a man named Carl Barnes wanted to connect to his Cherokee roots and began to grow ancient corn. After years of growing the corn and selecting more colorful seed to plant each year, the ancient glass gem corn was brought back to life.

Barnes became friends with a man named Schoen and shared some of his seeds with him. After years of growing and selecting colors, Schoen shared a picture of his glass gem corn in 2012. The picture went viral and a non-profit organization called Native Seeds helped preserve the seeds and make them available to gardeners for purchase online.

Can you eat glass gem corn?

Yes, It is a hard or flint corn unlike the sweet corn you normally buy from the grocery story. This means it was originally used to grind down and make cornmeal. You can also air pop these kernels into popcorn. Though I personally think these kernels are too pretty to eat. Their ornamental value is why so many people are attracted to growing them.

How long does glass gem corn take to grow?

This type of corn takes about 110-120 days until maturity. This is a little longer than some corn varieties.

Planting Suggestions

a woman's hand holding a heirloom seed packet for Glass Gem corn from MIgardener
I love ordering from MIgardener, and Johnny seeds.

No varieties of corn do well with a frost. I usually wait a few weeks after the last frost before planting this corn. Corn needs full sun to grow so make sure you plant it in a sunny spot. Plant two seeds about 1/2″ deep and 6-12″ apart with about 12-24″ of space between the rows. Once they sprout you will pull out one of the plants.

It takes 5-10 days for the seeds to germinate (pop out of the ground). They have better luck germinating if the tempuratre is 60-80F or 15-30C. Keep the soil moist during germination process.Something very important to remember with planting corn is that the corn stalks pollinate each other.

You will not get well formed ears if you plant a single row. I would suggest planting at least two rows next to each other. This way when the wind blows the stalks have a better chance of pollinating and then producing well formed ears. These stalks grow to be about 6-8 feet tall.

Growing maintenance

Corn is pretty easy to grow. Water 2-3 times a week unless you receive lots of rain. I usually pull the weeds around the plants when they are young. When the corn talks get taller, weeds aren’t much of a threat. Thus I become a little lazy about weeding and will usually take care of the weeds when I am taking the stalks out of the ground.

When do I harvest the glass gem corn?

You will want to harvest the corn about 20 days after the silks appear (yellow hair like things that come out of the top of the ear of corn). You can pull down a little bit of the husk and gently put your fingernail in the kernel. If the kernel is hard then is is ready. To pick, I like to get a firm hold on the ear, bend it down and twist it out.

My family loves harvesting the corn. Each ear is different and so beautiful. It’s like unwrapping a present! When I shuck the corn I like to leave the husks hanging down and will let them dry out like that. This way they can be used for fall decorations.

How to dry the corn stalks for fall decorations

Not only do you get these beautiful ears of corn, but you can use the stalks for creating a beautiful front porch fall set up. I have made beautiful fall wreaths form my corn stalks as well as wrapping up the stalks and setting them next to some pumpkins. So fun!

After you harvest all your corn, you can let the stalks stay in the garden for a bit longer. Stop watering them and let them dry out. After that I will pull them all out and let them dry out even longer, this helps them get that golden color.

If you live somewhere that rains a lot, you will wan’t to put your stalks under some cover or in a garage while they dry out. Otherwise they can dry out in your yard. Once they are dry, use some rope to wrap around the stalks and set on your porch!

young boy holding a soccer ball in front of  fall decorations that are corn stalks

Can I save seeds?

Yes! Another fun thing about glass gem corn is that you can save the kernels and plant them next year. Save your favorite colors and select for your favorite variations. Just make sure your seeds are properly dried and are stored in a cool dry place.

Order your seeds now are get your self ready to put glass gem corn in your garden! They really are so fun to grow! Save this post so you can refer back to it when your seed packet comes!

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