How and When to Plant Sweet Corn in the UK

Home-grown sweetcorn is easier to cultivate than most people think, But do you know when to plant sweet corn in the UK, and how to grow sweet corn? This five-minute guide cob-bles together all the key info you need.

6 March 2024

In a winter-warming chowder, a plate of fritters on a weekend afternoon, or a freshly-picked cob slathered in butter, growing sweetcorn is a fun activity for everyone, from kids starting out to lifelong gardeners.

So let’s discover when to plant sweetcorn in the UK to ensure a bountiful harvest! If you want to know how to grow sweetcorn in the UK, our useful guide will cover all the key information you need to know.

When to Sow Sweet Corn in the UK

Planting sweetcorn in the UK generally works best when you wait until the risk of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up, which usually means planting out in late spring or early summer.

Sweet corn requires warm soil for germination and growth, and planting after the last frost reduces the risk of seedlings being killed by cold weather.

Sowing seeds indoors can start around late April to early May, with planting out in the garden occurring from late May to early June, depending on your local climate conditions.

The Different Types of Sweetcorn You Can Grow at Home

Multicoloured corn cobs scattered on a dark wooden background. (Credit: Ilona Shorokhova via Getty Images)

Knowing when to plant sweet corn in the UK varies due to the notoriously unpredictable weather. If you’re looking to get a headstart on planting, there are early varieties of sweetcorn that are bred to mature faster and can be sown earlier in the season if you provide them with protection like a greenhouse or polytunnel. Some early varieties include:


Known for being particularly early maturing, producing sweet, tender cobs.

Early Extra Sweet

As the name suggests, this variety matures early and has a high sugar content.


Ideal for small gardens or growing in pots, suitable for early planting and used for baby corn.

Maincrop Sweetcorn

Maincrop varieties are planted for harvest in late summer to early autumn include:


A widely acclaimed variety known for its very sweet, large cobs.


Celebrated for its sweet flavour and large, golden-yellow kernels.


A Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit winner, Lark is favoured for its sweetness and vigour.
Now you know when to grow sweet corn in the UK, let’s find out how to grow it.

Growing Sweetcorn

Corn cob with green leaves growing in a field. (Credit: Kwangmoozaa via Getty Images)

When we’re discussing how to grow sweetcorn in the UK, gardeners will know they’re relatively easy to cultivate and provide delicious, sweet cobs. Follow our easy step-by-step guide to get started.

Choose Your Variety

Select a variety suited to the UK climate. Early varieties are good for a shorter growing season, while maincrop varieties are ideal for a longer harvest period.

Sowing Sweetcorn Seeds

Start seeds indoors in late April to early May. Sow them in individual pots or modules filled with compost and keep at a temperature of around 18 – 21°C (65 – 70°F). Water them well and keep them in a warm place like a windowsill or even in a greenhouse to germinate. Germination takes up to two weeks.

Planting Out

Once the risk of frost has passed and seedlings are strong enough (usually when they have 3-4 leaves), plant them out in their final position. This is usually in late May or early June. Sweetcorn thrives in a sunny, sheltered spot with fertile, well-drained soil. Enrich the soil with plenty of organic matter before planting. Plant sweetcorn in blocks rather than rows, about 45 cm (18 inches) apart each way. This block pattern helps with wind pollination. If there’s no wind, a gentle shake will help to distribute the pollen.

Support, Care & Maintenance

Water the plants regularly without waterlogging them and to conserve moisture, spread a layer of mulch around them. When the sweetcorn’s tassels appear, use a liquid feed to boost growth, and if they’re exposed, you can stake the plants to prevent wind damage.


Sweetcorn is ready to harvest when the tassels turn dark and the kernels are plump and milky. This is typically in late summer or early autumn. To check the corn is mature, gently press one of the kernels and if a milky liquid comes out, it’s ready. Harvest by twisting the cob and pulling it away from the plant.


Like most home-grown veg, sweetcorn is at its sweet best when it has been freshly picked. However, it can be stored in the fridge for a few days or frozen for longer storage.

A Cornucopia of Sweet Corn

Close up of sweetcorn. (Credit: hutchyb via Getty Images)

Knowing when to plant sweetcorn in the UK and how to grow sweetcorn can be a rich and rewarding experience, and the first bite of a fresh hot cob with butter is one of life’s true pleasures! By sowing sweetcorn at the right time of year and following our helpful guide for planting, maintenance and harvesting, you can enjoy a bounty of sweet, succulent corn.


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