How to Preserve Decorative Indian Corn

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Known for its striking multicolored kernels, Indian corn is a type of flint corn originally grown as a cereal crop. It commonly appears in harvest or Thanksgiving decorations in the United States and is among the easiest garden plants to cultivate. Most gardeners grow Indian corn for decorative purposes, harvesting the ears for use during the autumn season. Preserving Indian corn is a matter of drying it thoroughly and protecting it from exposure to moisture. If properly preserved, Indian corn will last a long time, providing color in seasonal centerpieces and wreaths for many years.

Things You'll Need

  • Indian corn
  • Twine
  • Shellac
  • Small paint brush
  • Harvest the Indian corn one to two weeks after the silk tassels turn brown. Waiting until the silk dries out ensures that the kernels have fully matured and achieved their characteristic coloration.

  • Prepare the corn for drying by pulling the husk away from the cob. Do not fully detach the husk since it is needed to hang the corn for thorough drying.

  • Create several small bundles of corn by tying twine around the base of the husks. Tie a loop at the end of the twine and hang it in a warm, dry area with good air circulation. Avoid basements or other damp areas since they may encourage the growth of mildew or mold on the kernels.

  • Dry the corn for one to two weeks, or until the kernels are too hard to create a dent with your fingernail.

  • Apply several light coats of shellac to the kernels, starting with very little and building up a fairly thick layer. Applying shellac deepens the color of the kernels and provides a shiny finish. Allow the shellac to dry thoroughly before handling them.

References

  • "Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden: Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians"; Waheenee; 1999
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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