Erica Groneman + photo

Erica Groneman

Jan 23
3 min read
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Popcorn spilling out of theater cup

Popcorn is a beloved treat at our house. Have you ever tried growing, harvesting, and preserving your own? True Leaf Market has several popcorn varieties you could try. Lately we have been obsessed with the Rainbow Jewel Popcorn. It not only makes perfect popcorn, but it can also be grown to display its beautiful colored ears of corn. Rainbow jewel is a cross between glass gem and white varieties. With this cross, no two ears of corn look the same making this a great ornamental and popcorn variety. Popcorn is fun for kids and a great new challenge for any gardener. To grow your own popcorn, follow these simple steps.

Use Unprocessed Popcorn Seeds: No, you cannot grow the popcorn seeds you buy in the grocery store. The popcorn you find in the snack isle has been sterilized making it unable to grow when planted. To grow your own popcorn, make sure to use corn seeds of a popcorn type. They are actually different from sweet corn varieties. Popcorn is one of the oldest types and had to be popped in order to be edible. Because of their resiliance, popcorn kernals are often able to be popped after long periods of time.

Sow Corn With Several Rows: Like all corn, popcorn needs other corn to pollinate. Direct sow at least 4 rows 18-24 inches between rows 1 inch deep and about 6-8 inches apart. Be careful not to plant your popcorn within 300 feet of another corn variety or they could cross pollinate.

Thin Plants: At about 5 inches tall, thin plants to about 12 inches apart.

Regular Care: Follow the recommended water and fertilizing instructions per the variety you choose to grow.

Corn Matures and Dries: Let the popcorn stay on the stalk to dry as long as possible before freezing temperatures come. The husk will turn yellow and brown and you should not be able to press your fingernail into a kernel; otherwise it isn’t ripe yet. Be aware, popcorn takes much longer to mature than sweet corn.

Watch For Rain and Freezing Temperatures: If it’s threatening to freeze or if it is raining while the popcorn is trying to dry, harvest the popcorn and bring it inside to dry. Husk the popcorn and put the cobs in a mesh bag then hang to dry.

Test the Kernels Weekly: Once a week test the popcorn to see if it is done by popping a handful of kernels at a time. If it is chewy or otherwise doesn’t pop properly, it most likely needs more drying time. The popcorn is ready to store when the popcorn pops up crisp and fluffy.

Harvest Kernels and Store: When the popcorn seeds are sufficiently dry, remove the seeds from the cob and store in an airtight container.

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Sarah Showers

The popcorn article is so interesting! I had never enough thought about growing popcorn. Now I know what me and my 3 year old are going to do this year!


Thanks for this! I’m looking forward to making my own popcorn this year. I already have my 2023 True Leaf Market seeds.

Daniel Hart

Do you know if certain corn varieties would be safe from cross pollination? I would love to grow some popcorn, but don’t think I want to give up my other corn!

Kathie Hitt

This is amazing! I had no idea you could grow your own popping corn. Will be definitely adding to my fall gardening plan to surprise my family. Thank you!


I am really excited to grow my own popping corn this year. This article was very helpful. Curious how close too close would be from our sweet corn to our popping corn. I don’t want cross pollination to happen.

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