Broom corn is a unique and fun crop to grow in a garden. I grew it the first time to use in fall decorations but learned more about the crop during the time it grew in the garden and dried some of the corn to make small brooms with. These brooms are decorative and really work well.
photo credit: hans s
Broom corn is not truly a corn plant. It is a grass-like sorghum plant that grows in a large fan-shaped bloom and it is striking in a garden. You can purchase seeds for a natural broom look or corn seed that will give you blooms in soft natural colors. The colored blooms are wonderful in arrangements while the natural color makes great natural-bristled brooms. The uses for this dried crafting material are endless.
You may be able to find the seeds in a larger garden center but I have found I need to order seeds in my area. Most seed catalogs will have them or check online for seeds.
Planting Broom Corn
Choose an area to plant your broom corn that receives full sun. You can also mix the corn in with other ornamental plants to be used as a background later.
First prepare the soil and make sure to add plenty of nutrients; any corn plant is a heavy feeder and produce better in fertile soil. Next make a 1-inch furrow in the soil the length of the row. Corn seed does better in rows of at least four deep; it helps pollination. If space is limited plant short rows, but keep the depth in planting to insure a good crop.
Plant each broom corn kernel 1-inch deep making sure you have waited until two weeks after the last frost in your area. Cover the seed with soil. You will want to Water the broom corn very well once a week. Proper watering will mean that the soil is soaked down into the ground to about 5 or 6 inches.
Water plants in the early morning or late afternoon so that the water does not evaporate in the sun. It is always best to water deeply and not as often. Deep watering gets to the roots and is absorbed into the plant at a high rate.
As the season progresses watch you plants for disease and insects. Remove any diseased plants immediately. The insect you will be watching for are
Corn earworm caterpillars. You can prevent their bothering your plants by placing a small amount of mineral oil at the very tips of the plant. This discourages the moths from laying their eggs. The mineral oil is harmless and if you have a small patch this does not take long. And its much better than using a chemical spray.
Your crop is ready in the fall when the stalks turn tannish brown. The seed packet will give you an idea of how many days it takes to mature.
I cut the stalks on a sunny day and lay on the ground to dry. Pick up the corn before dark. I also tie it up and hang it upside down so that the corn heads dry straight. It will take a few weeks to totally dry. You can remove the seed from the head or leave on, depending on the use you have in mind for the corn.
photo credit: saebaryo
Broom corn has many uses and you will find it’s a fun crop to grow. Add other decorative corn, pumpkins and a few dried flowers and you will have a festive fall arrangement.