Japanese Striped Maize – Zea mays japonica
Origin – See below
The origins of this striking maize with its dramatic cream, green, and raspberry-pink striped foliage is the subject of some debate. In the Gardener's Chronicle of 1866, this variety was said to have been brought over from Japan to New York. However; five years earlier, the same paper advertises this same variety of ornamental maize. Either way, it is a colorful foliage plant which can work outdoors as a boarder/hedge for wildlife or indoors as a dramatic container plant.
Japanese Striped Maize grows quickly to about four foot in height when planted outside. If in a container, the size of the container will determine the height of the plant. As a general rule of thumb for this plant, I have used 8" pots to grow three foot tall maize. It likes bright light, regular watering and is a fairly heavy feeder.
I like using this plant outdoors for wildlife because it does produce a small flint kernel ear of corn which the birds, squirrels, deer, etc. enjoy late in the fall. Japanese Striped Maize also does well as an aviary plant providing cover and requiring little care. As an added benefit, the corn silk has some antiviral properties and enhances the immune system.
Take a trip back to your great-grandmother's garden and try this lovely Victorian foliage plant.