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ZEA mays 'Garden Leader Rainbow'

Image of Zea mays 'Garden Leader Rainbow'

James H. Schutte



Botanical Name

ZEA mays 'Garden Leader Rainbow'

Plant Common Name

Corn, Garden Leader Rainbow Corn, Tricolored Corn

General Description

Unlike other corn varieties, 'Garden Leader Rainbow' is grown for its beautiful variegated foliage of cream, green and red rather than its edible ears or corn. When planted in the landscape, the tall plants make a bold statement.

Corn is a warm season annual garden vegetable. The tall grassy plants will take off as soon as days and nights lose their chill. They develop tall stalks with long, thick arching green blades. Corn has two flower types; the pollen producing male tassels and the seed-producing female flowers along the ears. The pollen in the tassels is carried by wind and shakes down on the distinctive silky threadlike stigmas of the corn ears. Once pollinated, the juicy sweet kernels develop. Sweet corn is typically harvested in mid to late summer and there are many varieties with white, yellow and peach-colored kernels. Colorful, ornamental Indian corn is a testament to the broad range of colors that can exist in hard varieties. These include blue, orange, red and near black.

Days to harvest vary from between 65 to 75 days. It is essential to pick corn at its prime and store it properly. You can tell when an ear is ready when the kernels are full, plump and properly colored. Another test is to pierce a plump kernel with your nail. If it emits milky juice it is ready. When buying fresh corn at the store, you can always tell the freshest ears because these will have new white cuts at the base of the ear. Those with browning bases should be avoided because corn tends to get starchy and loses its sweetness with age.

Grow corn in full hot sun and fertile, nutrient-rich soil with good drainage. It grows best with intermittent watering. It is necessary to grow several rows of corn for both cross pollination and to get enough ears for the table. There are a number of diseases and pests that plague corn. Corn earworms are common as are nighttime raids from raccoons. The grotesque fungal disease called corn smut is another problem to be watchful of.

Corn is a must for the large warm season veggie garden. There are lots of wonderful varieties to choose from and nothing makes the summer sweeter or tastier.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 4

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    6'-8' / 1.8m - 2.4m

  • Width

    2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time


  • Native To

    Hybrid Origin, North America, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH


  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type


  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Fruit Color

    White, Yellow, Light Yellow, Peach

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Red, Green, Dark Green, Ivory

  • Foliage Color (Spring) Modifier

    Variegated, Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Red, Green, Dark Green, Ivory

  • Foliage Color (Summer) Modifier

    Variegated, Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Red, Green, Dark Green, Ivory

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Variegated, Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing