Zea mays


  • Botanical name: Zea mays
  • Common name: Sweetcorn
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Plant Type: Vegetable
Foliage colour:


Believed to have been first cultivated in Mexico, sweetcorn, Zea mays, was introduced into Europe in the 16th century and soon became a staple crop. Its deliciously sweet cobs can be barbecued to eat hole or boiled with the kernals separated to add to dishes. There are many sweetcorn varieties, ripening early, mid-season or late, and are therefore suited to different parts of the UK.


Grow Zea mays in blocks rather than in rows, to ensure full wind-pollination. It needs full sun, in moist but well-drained, fertile, preferably acid or neutral soils. Tassels at the ends of cobs turn black as an indication of ripeness.

How to grow Zea mays

  • Plant size

    1.5m height

    60cm spread

  • Aspect

    South facing, west facing

  • Sun exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness: Half hardy
  • Soil type: Well drained / light / sandy

Plant calendar

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do not Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December


Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December


Do not Harvest in January

Do not Harvest in February

Do not Harvest in March

Do not Harvest in April

Do not Harvest in May

Do not Harvest in June

Do not Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do Harvest in September

Do not Harvest in October

Do not Harvest in November

Do not Harvest in December

Zea mays and wildlife

Zea mays has no particular known value to wildlife in the UK.

Is Zea mays poisonous?

Zea mays has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds

No reported toxicity to Cats

No reported toxicity to Dogs

No reported toxicity to Horses

No reported toxicity to Livestock

No reported toxicity to People

Plants that go well with Zea mays