Growing vegetables in your backyard isn’t tough anymore. Different vegetables with loads of vitamins and minerals can enrich your overall health. Taro root is one such root vegetable that has nutrients in it and easy to grow at your home.
Taro root is an underground plant that grows up-to 3 to 4 feet tall. So, there is no requirement for the ground to be deep for planting. Growing taro root in containers is possible, but the choice of a container should allow the growth of plants in depth.
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What is Taro Root?
Basically taro root plant is native to India and Southeast Asia. It is an edible plant that both the roots and greens of the plants can be consumed. It is used for making many dishes mostly used in Asian countries. It can grow in the water flooded soils and also grow in containers.
Scientifically, taro plant is known as Colocasia esculenta and it belongs to the family of Araceae. In general, it is known with different names with respect to different places. They are Taro, Pan, Ghandyali, Arbi, Dasheen, Kalo, Kochu, Eddoe, Chamagadda, Chamadumpa, Sivapan-Kizhangu, Gabi, Bal, Aroei, Ggobe, Kolkas, Kimo, Edo, Cocoyam, Yu, Yutou, Woo, Wuchoi, Toran, Nduma, Bun long, Kasu, Satoimo, Mukhi arrowroot, Elephant plant, etc.
It is popularly known as the Elephant plant, taro root plants consist of a rich amount of minerals and nutrients in both roots and greens. It consists of fiber, iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Phosphorus, and also vitamin A, B6, C, E in it. Apart from vitamins and minerals, Taro root consists of many health benefits.
- Taro root takes less than 1 year of time to complete the growth of the plant. It does not produce any stems or buds above the ground. Whatever the stems and leaves evolve to the plant are grown in containers or under the ground itself.
- Taro grows up to 3 to 4 feet tall depending upon the variety of plants. It consists of heart-shaped leaves that look like elephant ears and they are of light green and purple in color.
- Taro has cream-colored flesh covered with brown color skin and hair consists of tennis ball size. Roots are elongated and round. Stems are hard and consist of full flesh and juice in it which grows up to 1.5m long.
Varieties & Types of Taro to Grow at Home
Taro root plants are suitable to grow in water and soil i.e, wetlands, and dry conditions. It can grow well in humid and rainy climates too.
Depending on its flesh color and roots, taro root plants are of different varieties.
- Alocasia is the type of plant that consists of starchy leaves, roots, and stems that are edible.
- Bun-long Taro: This plant grows well in humid climates. It consists of white roots, thick and starchy flesh which tastes amazing.
- Chinese taro grows well in wetland areas
- Cyrtosperma is a variety of plant that produces large amounts of leaves and coarse roots.
Methods for Growing Taro Root in Containers
There are two methods to grow taro root depending upon the climate.
- For the wetland taro root plants, we should use large containers/buckets/big jars/clay pots.
- For the dry land taro root plants normal dry-soil is used and the containers chosen will be large containers/buckets/big jars/clay pots.
Among the two types of dryland and wetland plants, dryland plants can be planted at any time of the year. For wetland plants, the spring season is the best one. It takes 200 days to complete the harvesting time.
Taro that grows for their greens should be only grown in the minimum temperatures i.e., it should be or lower than 10℃.
These plants can be grown anywhere i.e., in outdoors/indoors/greenhouse.
Best Time to Plant Taro Root
Spring is the best season to grow taro plant.
- The temperature should be between 20℃ to 35℃ (68℉ to 95℉).
- Taro root plants cannot endure the freezing temperature, they die if the temperature falls less than 10℃.
- To plant taro root, the spring season is the best choice.
- In mid-spring, the soil and weather both will be warm so that this time suits for planting Taro.
Soil preparation for Growing Taro Root
- The soil that we use for planting taro should contain the pH level of 5.5 – 7.0
- Taro root plants flourish in well drained and fertile soil. While planting taro root in a container mix it with the river sand, so that it can increase the draining capacity of the soil.
- Taro plants need heavy nutrients. Organic compost is the best choice for taro plants. Before filling the potting mix in the container mix the soil with composted or well-rotted manure so that it feeds the taro root.
Ideal location to Plant Taro Root
- Taro plant needs partial shade to flourish and to be harvested. Place the container of taro root plant where it can absorb sunlight, air, and rainwater.
- The better choice would be balconies, terrace, windows sill, garden, backyards, front yards, etc.
Container or Pot Selection to Grow Taro at Home
- As the Taro plants grow taller, they need large containers. The depth of the containers ensures the length of the Taro.
- The container that is chosen for the Taro root should hold at least 4 to 5 gallons of soil which helps in the growth.
- Containers can be of any type that suits Taro. We can use big plastic pots, barrels, buckets, golf bags, whiskey barrels or water tins, etc. Whatever it may be but the black colored one is recommended the most, because black colored containers hold moisture for a longer time.
- The main thing that should be concentrated while planting in a container is to provide sufficient space to grow and should have a good drainage system at the bottom.
- The container must and should have drainage holes at the bottom, as excessive water in the container spoils the taro root. Therefore a hole at the bottom of the container helps to leak excess water.
- If we choose a long rectangular container, it holds up to 3 Taro tubers.
Also read: Growing Bitter Gourd in Container
How to Grow Taro Root in Containers?
- In a container fill the bottom layer with pebbles or gravel or fine mesh that covers the draining holes so that soil will not drip out of the container.
- Fill the container with soil mixture so that the gap between the surface of the soil and the rim of the container should be at least 2 inches.
- While planting nursery bought taro root, make sure to take care to loosen the soil attached to the root.
- If you are planting the tuber or corms of the Taro, then place it approximately up to 4 inches deep to the soil surface. And also make sure that bud should face up and rootlets should face bottom.
- After planting, cover the surface of the soil with the pebbles or gravel until it fills the container. This is to prevent the jamming of the water and also ensures the container to be moistened.
- From the time of planting, after 10 to 15 days of the time, the seedling process starts and seed crop up to upper surface of the soil.
- After emerging from the seed, place the container in the warm sunny place and water the plant. Although Taro flourishes in shady places, it needs warmth for fast and healthy growth.
- If the temperature is cold i.e., in freezing temperature, move the container to indoor places. If the container is indoors, daily misting should be performed.
How Often Do You Water Taro Plants?
- Taro plants need an excess amount of water. So water the plants frequently at regular intervals.
- Moistened leaves and tubers of Taro will be very tasty. Therefore constant moistening is required for the Taro plant.
- Water should be supplied frequently to the plant until the excess water drains out from the drainage holes.
- In Taro plants, the younger one absorbs more water and the adult one is drought resistant.
- And also over watering will also cause root to rot. So avoid excess watering.
How to Take Care of Taro Plants at Home?
Fertilizer Requirement for Growing Taro root:
- Taro plants need a heavy amount of food, start feeding once leaves emerge.
- In the process of fertilizing, remove some of the pebbles or gravel from the surface of the container and fertilize the soil in the ratio of 10-20-10 and keep the pebbles or gravel back. Once the plant start growing fertilize the soil with potassium fertilizer twice or thrice.
- Potassium fertilizer helps to avoid chlorosis disease, which is caused by potassium deficiency.
- Interveinal chlorosis is caused by the deficiency of zinc in the plant and makes the leaves pale.
- Leaf petiole can be caused by the deficiency of phosphorus.
- Feeding the plant with potassium-rich fertilizer once in a month is a must. It may be comfrey tea, compost tea, or seaweed solution.
- Also supply nitrogen fertilizer in the ratio 0f 24-8-16 every month to the plant. Follow the instructions provided on the fertilizer packet while feeding to ensure healthy growth to the plants.
Winter Care to Grow Taro Root
- As the taro root plants cannot resist the freezing temperature, in the winter season move the plants to indoor/to a greenhouse or cover the plants with the garden cloches to protect from the cold temperature.
- Else cut the plant totally to the ground level and put a mulch of dried leaves or straw that ensures the plant to be insulated from freezing temperatures.
Best time to harvest taro root
- As Taro plants take 200 days for harvesting. They form taro tubers; the leaves turn into yellow color and start to die.
- Maturity of the taro tuber depends upon the climatic conditions.
- Harvesting of Taro’s should be done on the first frost in autumn.
- Pull them gently from the soil.
- As mentioned earlier, taro leaves are edible; you can harvest its leaves too. More your cut, more they grow.
- The leaves can be harvested throughout the growing period of the plant.
- Taro leaves are very tasty when they are fresh.
- Taro leaves can be consumed in the form of spinach and tubers will be edible only after boiling or frying like potatoes.
Pests and Disease of Growing Taro Root
The common pests that affect the Taro plant are aphids, red spider mites. Taro leaf blight, downy mildew, and taro beetle are the fungal diseases that affect the taro plants. By applying polyurethane, coconut husk, or grass as mulch, the taro beetle and taro leaf blight diseases can be controlled.
To prevent these diseases, horticulture spray or neem spray can be used. And also the strong stream of water can be used to get rid of aphids on taro leaves. To protect plants from fungal diseases, use organic fertilizers, do not use chemical fertilizers.