Best Corn Plant Soil and Fertilizer for Healthy Growth

Corn Plant
Corn Plant (Source: Wikimedia)

The Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans ) is a plant famous among plant lovers for its long yellow-striped leaves.

Many prefer putting these exotic plants on their office desks to increase their aesthetics.

You may want to get one for your home or office, but it will help to know about its soil and fertilizers requirements beforehand.

Generally, the Corn plant requires a well-draining, peaty, and moist potting mix for optimal growth. In addition, feed Corn plant with a diluted balanced liquid fertilizer or organic compost once or twice a year during spring and summer.

Corn plant grown indoors in a pot
Corn plant is grown indoors in a pot (Source: Amazon)

However, the amount and frequency of fertilizing may depend on the quality of soil, amount of light, and various other factors.

Let’s look deeper into that department and determine what type of soil and fertilizer the plants need.

What Kind of Soil does a Corn Plant Need and Why?

Proper soil mixture plays a vital role in shaping the plant’s growth. If the plant stands on high-quality soil, the growth will be mesmerizing.

Corn plant prefers loose, peaty soil that remains moist and has good drainage. It requires slightly acidic soil with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 6.5.

Soil and Shovel
Soil for Corn Plant (Source: Unsplash)

But the soil quality and the efficiency depend on various soil factors.

Let’s look at the basic overview of the soil required for the Corn plant.

RequisitiesOptimal Condition
Soil CompactionLoose Soil
TextureLoamy, dark and less compact
DrainageWell-Draining, 1-2 inches per hour
Water RetentionRequires a little retention during hot temperature

Over 40%
Temperature65-75°F
Soil pH6.0 - 6.5
Soil NutrientsProper amount of macro and micro nutrients

You should go for terracotta pots to give your soil a better breathing space.

When looking for the soil type for a Corn plant, you should consider the following soil properties.

1. Soil Compactness and Aeration

Some plants love compact soil, but most plants in the plant kingdom have a problem with compact soil.

Soil compaction is a term that refers to the tightly-packed soil with no breathing space. Due to different factors, the void space/distance between the soil particles reduces.

When it comes to Corn plants, it prefers loose soil with plenty of breathing space and good airflow.

Soil compactness explained
Good soil vs. Compact soil (Source: Forigo)

Loose soil has benefits like the water drains faster, and the plant roots get to breathe freely.

If the soil is compacted, you will see the symptoms like stunted plant growth, pooling of water, etc.

It would help if you looked for the compaction of the soil regularly as the soil gets compacted with time.

2. Soil Moisture and Water Retention

The plant’s growth sometimes depends on the amount of water its soil can hold.

Soil moisture is a factor that determines the amount of water the soil has at the respective time.

While Corn plants prefer around 50% environmental humidity, their soil needs to be moist for the plant to function correctly.

response of water to different types of soil
Response of Water to Different Types of Soil (Source: Teleskola.mt)

But as you know, too much of anything is dangerous. Corn plants will show the symptoms like root rot, leaching, and slow to no growth.

The soil should also be able to retain a little amount of water for proper functioning.

Soil moisture is essential in letting the plant absorb the required nutrients. But too much moisture can be a reason for the plant’s death.

So, constantly check the soil’s moisture content using a moisture meter.

3. Drainage Capacity of Soil

Soil drainage may be one of the most critical factors in the plant’s growth.

Due to the accumulation of too much water in the soil, many plants succumb to grave diseases like root rot and other fungal infections.

Corn plant prefers soil with good drainage and one that doesn’t let the water pool for too long on the base of the plant.

Soil drainage
Soil drainage (Source: UCANR)

This plant doesn’t like standing in soggy soil for too long. As mentioned above, moist soil is fine, but there is a line between moist and soggy soil.

When the drainage capacity is low, you will know as the plant’s soil becomes waterlogged and will exhibit symptoms like slow growth, stunted growth, etc.

Slow drainage will also invite different pests and diseases that eventually kill the plant.

4. Nutrients and Organic Matters

Many plants rely on the nutrients and organic matter from the soil.

Keeping the intrusion by nutrients from external fertilizers out of the question, the plant also needs nutrients from the soil.

Corn plants prefer soil with a good amount of organic matter as it boosts the quality and texture.

Lack of nutrients shown in plant
How lack of each nutrient affect the plants. (Source: Wikimedia)

Soil has many nutrients divided into two categories: Macronutrients and micronutrients.

Let’s look at what each of them consists of.

NutrientsConstituents
Macronutrients Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Sulfur (S), Magnesium (Mg), and Calcium (Ca)
MicronutrientsBoron (B), Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu), Molybdenum (Mo), Chlorine (Cl)

Macronutrients help the plant create new cells, which organize the plant tissue. Similarly, micronutrients function as a bridge for conducting processes like transpiration and photosynthesis.

Providing the plant with soil with a good amount of nutrients and organic matter is a plus in the plant’s growth.

5. Soil Temperature

Soil temperature is another crucial factor in the well-being of the plant.

Being a tropical plant, the Corn plant prefers if the temperature is on the warm side, whether the environment temperature or the soil.

It would be best for Corn plants if you keep the temperature of the soil in the range of 65°F to 75°F.

Thermometer before plant
Checking Temperature with Thermometer (Source: Pixabay)

Although the air temperature should be at the optimum range of 60-75°F, the soil temperature needs to be slightly higher than the lower limit.

If the soil temperature is too low, the plant will slow down its photosynthesis process and starts taking physical damage.

Similarly, in high temperatures, the plant won’t be able to absorb the required nutrients and minerals.

The key here is to maintain the soil temperature so that it doesn’t hinder the plant’s ability to take water and nutrients.

6. Soil pH

The pH in soil pH stands for the potential of hydrogen, which is the test of the acidity or basicity of the soil the plant stands in.

As the Corn plant is susceptible to damage due to fluoride, you should maintain the soil pH around 6.0 to 6.5.

Soil pH is affected by various factors like soil texture, climate, and the mineral contents of the soil.

You should look for the following signs to see if your plant is affected by low soil pH.

  • Phosphorus deficiency: Leaves will appear dull, and the growth will be slowed.
  • Potassium deficiency: Chlorosis, necrotic spots on the leaves.
  • Magnesium deficiency: Yellowing of the leaves.
  • Calcium deficiency: Leaf tips will be scorched, and chlorosis will occur.
  • Other symptoms: Stunted growth of the plant, slowed roots growth, and yellow holes on the leaves.
Soil pH and availability of nutrients
Soil pH and availability of nutrients (Source: Agriculture and Food Journal)

If the pH is too high, it will hinder the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and minerals.

How to Maintain Optimal Soil Condition for Corn Plant?

Let’s look at what you can do to maintain the soil conditions the plant needs.

  • Avoid overwatering the plant as too much saturation in the soil can make it compact.
  • To increase the soil aeration, you need to turn over the topsoil with a shovel and add organic matter to the soil.
  • You can add a bit of perlite, vermiculite, humus, or sphagnum moss to the soil to maintain the moisture and let plants retain the water.
  • Add compost or other organic matter to increase the soil drainage.
Organic Fertilizer
Organic Fertilizer (Source: Pixabay)
  • You should feed the plant with a water-soluble fertilizer with a ratio of 3-1-2 with some zinc, copper, sodium, iron, and manganese content.
  • Add some mulch in the winter season to maintain the soil temperature.
  • If the soil is too acidic, add some lime and if it is too alkaline, add some ammonium sulfate to the soil.
  • The immediate solution to most problems could be changing the potting soil altogether.

Prepping the Potting Mixture for Corn Plant

Corn plant requires a loamy but loose potting soil. You can find tons of them in the market.

But sometimes, you might now want to rely on those machines mixed potting soil and want to prepare some on your own.

Here is where we come into action. Fret not; we have prepared a list of recipes you can choose from.

Materials Required

You need to amass the following items to prepare potting soil successfully.

MaterialsFeatures
Coco CoirImproves aeration and increases moisture retention.
PerliteImproves drainage, moisture retention and aeration.
CompostAdds nutrients.
PebblesIncrease humidity.
SandImproves aeration.
Peat MossRemove the tightness of the soil, improves drainage, and lowers pH.
VermiculiteHelps retain the nutrient and boosts aeration.
Loamy soilCan hold nutrients and moisture.

Look below for the recipes.

Recipe 1

  • One part of peat moss to maintain the moisture and pH
  • Another part of vermiculite or perlite for proper drainage
  • An equal part of loamy soil for required nutrients

Recipe 2

  • One part of potting soil
  • An equal part of peat moss
  • Remaining part of the perlite
Loose And Well Draining Soil
Loose And Well Draining Soil ( Souce : Pexels)

Recipe 3

  • One-half of potting mix
  • Another half of the clay pebbles

You need to understand how every material listed above works and prepare a potting mix accordingly.

Remember, preparing the wrong potting mix can send your plant to direct stress.

Common Signs that You are Using a Wrong Potting Soil

The Corn plant wants to stand in good potting soil. Sometimes it tells us by providing different signs.

You must be on the lookout for the signs and take the appropriate solutions to eliminate the problem.

Look for the following signs of the problems that occurred.

  • The soil may take more time to soak up the water whenever you water the plant. This phenomenon means that the soil has low water infiltration.
  • Sometimes even if the infiltration is okay, the soil might hold up too much water. This is a clear indication that you are using the wrong potting mix.
  • Due to bad drainage, no aeration, and wrong pH, the plant’s growth is stunted.
  • If you collect the soil sample and give it to a lab test, you might find that the soil is contaminated. It happens due to human-made chemicals.
Soil testing in lab
Soil Testing in Lab (Source: Public Lab)
  • The soil might give off a foul odor if the plant has incurred root rot or some pests attack.
  • When the soil is kept moist for too long, and the drainage is terrible, it may form some mold and invite pests.
  • Due to the damaged soil, the oxygen doesn’t flow correctly in the plant foliage, thus resulting in yellow and droopy leaves.

Best Soil Mixes for Corn Plant: For Sale

If you don’t want to make your hands dirty preparing potting mixes for your plant, you can also order some suitable combinations online.

Look at the table below for our recommended potting mixes for the Corn plant.

Potting MixesFeaturesProduct Image
Noot Organic Indoor Plant Soilless Potting MixBetter resistance to root rot
Handles sudden temperature changes
Noot Organic Indoor Plant Soilless Potting Mix
Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix 8 Qt.Comes with plant food included
Better protection against soil compaction
Improves drainage
Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix 8 Qt.
FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil MixComes with optimized pH suitable for Corn plant
Has aerated, light texture
FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix
Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixAdded worm castings
Works perfectly for repotting purposes
Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

Does a Corn Plant Need Fertilizers?

When you buy a plant, the sellers already include plant food in the potting mix. So the real question is, does a Corn plant need fertilizer?

The Corn plant needs fertilizer because the nutrients in the potting mix fade with time. After a certain period, the plant needs a certain boost in nutrients.

Although the Corn plant doesn’t need much fertilizer due to its slow-growing pace, it might demand some when the plant is under stress.

dracaena fertilizer with a dracaena
Dracaena Fertilizer (Source: Amazon)

You should fertilize your Corn plant with a water-soluble fertilizer twice a year, once during spring and another during early fall.

But the required frequency may vary with the light condition it gets. Let’s look at the fertilizing frequency.

Light ConditionsFrequency
Lot of LightFertilize every two months
Medium LightFertilize every four months
Low LightA maximum of two times a year

During winter, the plant goes into a dormant state. During this period, the plant may be unable to take all the nutrients you provide. So it’s better not to fertilize the plant during winter.

While fertilizing, you should use a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 3:1:2.

The fertilizer you provide should have all the required nutrients. Look at the table below for what the fertilizers should contain and their significance.

NutrientsTheir Significance
NitrogenHelps in the development of foliage and fruits.
PhosphorusCaptures the sun energy and converts it into required building blocks for the plant.
PotassiumMakes the plant strong enough to withstand diseases.
ZincBoosts the metabolic reaction in corps.
ManganeseHelps in photosynthesis, nitrogen metabolism, chloroplast formation, etc.
IronHelps transport the oxygen in different parts of the plant.
CopperBoosts chlorophyll content and helps in seed formation.
SodiumConcentrates carbon dioxide in plants.

Types of Corn Plant Fertilizers

If you look for fertilizers for Corn plants in the market, you may find spike, granular, liquid, foliar, slow-release, etc.

  • Liquid Fertilizer: This fertilizer is handy for Corn plants because they provide a concentrated and controlled application.
  • Granular Fertilizer: Granular fertilizers are good if you have kept your plant outsides. They are slow-release, and they release nutrients with each rainfall.
Liquid dracaena fertilizer
Liquid Fertilizer (Source: Ubuy)

If you ask my personal preference, I will go with liquid fertilizers.

They are handy for Corn plants because you can control the application, and they won’t make much mess around the house.

You can also mist the plant with liquid fertilizer.

Keep in mind that misting is not the substitute for watering. You need to resume your normal watering schedule even after misting.

Keep the nitrogen level in your fertilizer in check as too much urea can lead to urea-based plant damage like burning the foliage.

Store-Bought Compost Vs. Homemade Compost for Corn Plant

Whether to bring a compost from the store or prepare your compost at home must be a question lingering on your mind.

Look for the benefits and limitations of both below and decide for yourself.

1. Store-Bought Compost

To think practically, store-bought compost is easily the winner if you don’t want to go through the long process of preparing one yourself.

Store-bought compost provides you with choices on what nutrients to feed your plant. Also, if you have a lot of areas to cover, store-bought compost is easier to implement.

But, if you look at the richness, homemade compost takes the mantle as they are rich in nutrients.

Also, the store-bought compost can rot if you store it for some time.

Let’s look at a few best commercial fertilizers for the Corn plant.

FertilizersFeaturesProduct Image
AeroGarden Liquid NutrientsPatented, pH buffering system great for all hydroponic applications.AeroGarden Liquid Nutrients
Dracaena Fertilizer | Indoor Plant Food |It helps with Corn plants optimized growth process from nitrogen fertilizer.Dracaena Fertilizer | Indoor Plant Food |
Dr. Earth Organic 5Contains no GMOs, chicken manure or sewage sludgeDr. Earth Organic 5
FoxFarm Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil FormulaIdeal for mature, late-season flowers and fruitFoxFarm Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula

2. Homemade Compost

Buying a commercial compost is easy and handy, but preparing one for yourself is satisfying.

Homemade Compost
Homemade Compost (Source: Npr.org)

Homemade composts are suitable for the soil and the plant as they increase the plant’s moisture-retaining capacity, provide richer soil and suppress diseases and pests attacks.

Let’s look at the types of homemade fertilizers.

TypesFeaturesLimitations
Kitchen ScrapsHelps with moisture retention
Slow-release
The smell may be unbearable with time
WeedsHigh in nitrogen contentIf the seeds and roots of the weed are not deadheaded properly, they can reproduce
ManureHas a good amount of nitrogen
Helps in water retention
Can be too acidic for the soil if not composted
Tree LeavesMakes the soil lighter
Full of trace minerals
It can lead to nitrogen deficiency for a short period of time
EggshellsLowers the acid content
Increases calcium in the soil
Their sodium content can harm the plant
Coffee GroundsThey can increase the acidic content in the soilRoot growth can be hindered
Banana PeelsRich in potassium contentThey decompose very slowly

You can prepare a compost following a few basic steps at your home. Look below for some of them.

  • Get all the required items to prepare a compost ready.
  • Mix all the green (wet) items like leaves, manures, coffee grounds, etc., with the brown (dry) things like fallen leaves, dried tree branches, straw, etc.
  • Thoroughly water the compost heap you made.
  • Mix the heap thoroughly by using a row or a stick.
  • Use proper gloves and glasses, and feed your plant with the prepared compost.

How to Fertilize your Corn Plant?

Your Corn plant will give you signs that you need to fertilize them. Look out for the signs and take immediate action.

If your plant is under fertilized, it will show signs like dropping leaves, yellowing leaves, slow growth of the plant, and the leaves losing their shape.

If you see any of the signs above, do not immediately assume that your plant needs fertilizers. Check for other causes first.

After you have listed out all the fertilizers and their significance in the better growth of the Corn plant, you need to implement the fertilizing.

There are two main methods to fertilize your plant: By soaking, By misting.

1. Misting Method

Misting is one of the most convenient and effective fertilizing with liquid fertilizers. You can spray foliar fertilizers directly into the plant using a mister.

  • Prepare a fertilizer solution in a tub using water-soluble fertilizer.
  • Prepare a mister and clean it if there are any residue or remaining particles.
  • Fill the bottle appropriately with the prepared solution.
  • Spray the fertilizer on the plant. Make sure not to miss the underside of the plant.
Misting Plants To Increase Humidity
Misting Plants with Fertilizers(Source: Unsplash)

2. Soaking Method

You can use the soaking method to fertilize your plant. It would help if you gathered the necessary supplies like a measuring cup, watering can, or bucket.

  • Get the fertilizers ready. Fill the can/bucket with water and add the fertilizers there. Stir it well.
  • Ensure the water you use is at room temperature and the solution is diluted to recommended strength.
  • Water the plants with the solution and do it until water peeps out of the drainage hole.
  • Remember not to overwater the plant, or you might overfertilize it.
  • Let the fertilizer sink in and resume your regular care.

Overfertilization Symptoms in Corn Plant and Their Solutions

Sometimes, you might feed your plant with too much fertilizer than it needs.

The plant is not shy about showing the problems it will incur due to excess fertilizer in its soil. The effects may be severe and can lead the plant to stress.

Let’s look at the primary symptoms and their fixes.

1. Fertilizer Crusts on the Soil

Seeing crusts on the soil surface is one of the main problems and a quick indication that the plant has been fed with more fertilizer than it needs.

The crust is white with a flakes-like appearance surfaced in the topsoil.

Salt residues accumulated on the top of the soil surface soak all the water from the soil leaving the soil dry.

The dryness in the soil, in turn, damages the plant.

Salt Build up due to Overfertilization
Salt Build due to overfertilization.

Excess salt buildup in the topsoil also invites other problems like yellowing and wilting of leaves, browning of leaf tips and margins,

You can follow the following methods to get rid of the crusts.

  • Leaching the soil is one of the oldest and most effective methods to get rid of the crusts.
  • You can also scrape off the crusts on the topsoil.
  • If the damage is extreme and the ship has sailed, you must repot the plant to another container.

2. Fertilizer Burn

When you expose the plant to too many fertilizers, the plant will show some signs of fertilizer burn.

You may damage the plant if you use the wrong type of fertilizer or too much fertilizer than the plant’s requirement.

Fertilizer Burn in Leaves
Fertilizer Burn in Leaves (Source: Wikipedia)

The plant will develop the signs of unhealthy growth in the aftermath of improper fertilizing.

Due to minerals and salts in the fertilizers, the water and moisture in the soil get drawn out. If the plant doesn’t get the required water, it may succumb.

It would be best if you looked out for the symptoms of fertilizer burn.

  • Defoliation
  • Curled and scorched leaves
  • Root discoloration and rot
  • Brown margins and leaf tips
  • Stunted growth
  • Soil salinization

The fertilizer burn may pose a serious threat and must be treated as soon as possible. Look below for how to treat the fertilizer burn.

  • Flush out the excessive fertilizers with water for nearly a week.
  • Remove the dead and damaged foliage from the plant. This way, you might help the plant disseminate energy to the required healthy parts.
  • If you have done all the processes right, you will see the burn spots fade away, and the plant produces new green leaves in no time.
  • If the soil is damaged to the point of no return, you might have to repot the plant to a new container.

3. Slow or No Growth

It is such a bore if the plant slows down or suddenly stops its growth.

Due to the overuse of fertilizers, some plants tend to stop growing or grow at a slower pace for some time.

Corn Plant
Corn Plant (Source: Wikipedia)

With excess fertilizers, the plant’s growth gets a sudden boost. The foliage gets prominent and sturdy while the roots grow at their own pace.

The root cannot fulfill the plant’s nutrient needs. In such conditions, the plant grows slowly or suddenly stops growing due to a lack of nutrients.

If the problem is not fixed on time, it may lead the plant to sudden demise.

Let’s look at how to get rid of the problem.

  • Trim off the plant to reduce the volume of the plant and let the root fulfill the nutrient requirement.
  • Water the plant enough and also feed it with nutrient-enriched plant foods.
  • Stop the fertilization at once if you find the symptoms of slow or no growth.
  • Always keep the root to the foliage ratio in check.

4. Pests and Diseases Attack

Although the plant is hardy, specific components in the fertilizers invite different pests and diseases in the Corn plant.

Aphids on the leaves
Aphids on the leaves (Source: Stocklib)

If you over-fertilize your plant, different nutrients available in the fertilizers house different pests.

According to sare.org, aphids and mites prefer the soil that has been fed with high nitrogen fertilizer.

The fundamental trick is to avoid fertilizing the plant with high nitrogen formula.

Another research by ucanr.edu says that the growth of powdery mildew can worsen due to the promotion of foliage growth by the fertilizers.

The primary purpose of the fertilizers is to promote the overall growth of the plant. Therefore, in such conditions, pests and diseases make their way home.

Conclusion

For the overall growth of Corn plants, the fundamental trick is to provide them with good soil and feed them with nutrients using a good fertilizer.

If you are careful enough with the provision, you will be rewarded with a beautiful plant.

Good luck!

Read more to know about Amazing benefits of Corn Plant.

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