Taro (Colocasia esculenta), a tropical to subtropical plant, is a member of the Araceae family and is cultivated for its starchy sweet tuber.

Known for its large leaves, taro is also referred to as ‘elephant ears‘ or ‘dasheen.’

The plant is not only a source of delicious and nutritious food but also an attractive addition to your garden.

This guide will provide you with comprehensive instructions on how to grow and care for taro plants, ensuring a healthy and thriving plant.

Annual Vegetative Calendar for Taro

Taro (Colocasia esculenta), known for its large, elephant ear-like leaves and edible corms, is a tropical plant that requires specific care to thrive. Here’s an annual vegetative calendar tailored for Taro Plant care.

Spring

MonthTasksDescription
MarchSoil PreparationPrepare the soil by incorporating organic matter. Taro prefers well-draining, fertile soil.
WateringBegin regular watering as temperatures rise, keeping the soil consistently moist.
AprilPlantingPlant taro corms or starts in the garden after the last frost, about 2-3 inches deep.
FertilizationApply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to encourage growth.
MayMulchingApply mulch around plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Summer

MonthTasksDescription
JuneWater ManagementMaintain a consistent moisture level in the soil, as taro is a water-loving plant.
JulyPest & Disease MonitoringMonitor for pests and diseases, treating any issues promptly to prevent spread.
AugustContinued CareKeep up with watering, fertilizing, and pest control. Monitor plant health and growth.

Fall

MonthTasksDescription
SeptemberHarvesting BeginsBegin harvesting taro corms as leaves start to yellow and die back, usually 6-8 months after planting.
OctoberContinued HarvestContinue to harvest taro. After harvesting, remove and compost plant debris.
NovemberWinter PreparationIn cooler climates, dig up corms to store over winter or protect in-ground plants with a thick mulch layer.

Winter

MonthTasksDescription
DecemberCorm StorageStore harvested corms in a cool, dry place if dug up for winter.
JanuaryRest PeriodAllow the garden to rest. Plan for next year’s planting and order corms if needed.
FebruaryEarly Spring PrepBegin preparing for spring planting. Check stored corms for any signs of rot or damage.

Caring for taro involves regular maintenance tasks such as watering, fertilizing, and pest management, along with seasonal adjustments in care to ensure healthy growth and a productive harvest. By following this vegetative calendar, you can enjoy the lush foliage and nutritious corms of the taro plant in your garden.

Adjust care routines as needed based on your local climate conditions and the specific needs of your taro plants.

How to Grow Taro Plant

Growing taro involves understanding their specific needs and providing the right conditions.

From choosing the right variety to understanding the optimal growing conditions, each step is crucial to ensure a successful growth.

This section will provide you with a detailed guide on how to grow taro.

  • Choose the Right Variety: The most common species used as a food source is Colocasia esculenta.
  • Prepare the Soil: Taro prefers rich, moist, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
  • Plant the Taro: Taro is easily propagated via tubers, which can be obtained at some nurseries or from the grocers. Set the tubers in furrows 6 inches deep and cover with 2-3 inches of soil, spaced 15-24 inches apart in rows that are 40 inches apart.
  • Care for the Plants: Keep the taro consistently moist; taro is often grown in wet paddies, like that of rice. Feed the taro with a high potassium organic fertilizer, compost, or compost tea.
  • Harvesting: The whole process takes about 200 days from planting corms to harvest. To harvest the corms (tubers), lift them gently from the soil with a garden fork just before the first frost in the fall.

Where to Grow Taro Plant

The location where you choose to grow your taro can greatly impact its growth and health.

Taro is quite adaptable and can thrive in a variety of conditions.

This section will guide you on the best places to grow taro.

  • In a Sunny Spot: Taro needs a warm climate to grow. Choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight.
  • In a Garden Bed: If you have a garden bed that’s rich in organic matter, this can be an ideal place to grow taro.
  • In a Greenhouse: If you don’t live in a tropical to subtropical climate (USDA zones 10-11), you can try growing taro in a greenhouse.
  • In a Wet Paddy: Taro is often grown in wet paddies, like that of rice. This ensures that the plant is consistently moist, which is crucial for its growth.

Remember, no matter where you choose to grow your taro, ensure they have enough water, sunlight, and nutrient-rich soil to thrive.

How to Plant and Care for Taro Plant

Taro is a versatile plant known for its starchy root, which is used in various culinary dishes worldwide.

It is also valued as a houseplant due to its large and dramatic leaves resembling elephant ears.

Whether you’re interested in growing taro for food or decoration, it thrives in warm, moist environments with plenty of sunlight.

Taro is typically propagated by planting tubers, which are fleshy bulbs that grow underground.

Here, we will walk you through the process of planting and caring for taro plants to ensure a successful harvest or an aesthetically pleasing houseplant.

How to Plant Taro Plant

Taro tubers, also known as corms, are the primary method of propagating taro plants.

Here are the steps to plant taro tubers:

  1. Purchase tubers: Purchase taro tubers from a reputable seed supplier or an exotic market. While they may be challenging to find in regular garden supply stores, specialty markets that carry produce often stock them.
  2. Prepare the soil: Taro plants thrive in well-drained but rich soil. Begin by clearing the planting area of any weeds or debris. Incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility and structure. Ensure good drainage to prevent waterlogging.
  3. Plant the tubers: Dig a hole that is deep enough to accommodate the tuber, leaving the top exposed. Place the tuber in the hole with the root side facing down and the shoot side facing up. Cover the tuber with soil, gently firming it around the base. Space multiple tubers at least 2 to 3 feet apart to allow room for their growth.
  4. Provide warmth and moisture: Taro plants prefer warm and moist environments. Maintain a temperature above 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) for optimal growth. To ensure consistent moisture, water the planted tubers thoroughly and regularly, especially during dry periods.

How to Care for Taro Plant

Once you have planted your taro tubers, it’s crucial to provide proper care to ensure healthy growth and a bountiful harvest.

Here are some essential care tips for taro plants:

  • Watering: Taro plants require consistent watering to thrive. Keep the soil evenly moist, but avoid overwatering or waterlogging, as it can lead to root rot. Water deeply whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture in the soil.
  • Sunlight and temperature: Taro plants prefer full sun exposure for at least six hours a day to promote robust growth. However, in hot climates, they can benefit from partial shade during the hottest afternoon hours to prevent leaf scorching. Taro plants are sensitive to frost and require temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) for optimal development.
  • Soil and fertilization: Taro plants thrive in well-drained, rich soil. Prior to planting, ensure the soil is loose, friable, and enriched with organic matter. Regularly fertilize the plants with a balanced fertilizer, following the manufacturer’s instructions, to provide essential nutrients for healthy growth. Avoid overfertilization, as it can lead to excessive leaf growth and reduced tuber production.
  • Spacing: Allow sufficient space between taro plants to accommodate their mature size. Expect taro plants to grow at least 3 feet tall, but some varieties can reach up to 6 feet in height. Adequate spacing ensures proper air circulation and minimizes competition for nutrients and sunlight among neighboring plants.
  • Harvesting: Taro plants are typically ready for harvest 7 to 12 months after planting, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Harvesting time is indicated when the leaves start to yellow and die back. Carefully dig up the tubers using a garden fork, taking care not to damage them. Shake off excess soil and store the harvested tubers in a cool, dry place for immediate use or short-term storage.
  • Storage and consumption: Taro tubers are best eaten fresh and should be cooked before consumption to avoid digestive discomfort. The tubers have a sweet, nutty flavor and can be boiled, steamed, baked, or fried. They are commonly used in soups, stews, curries, or stir-fries. Young taro leaves can also be harvested and cooked as a nutritious addition to meals.

Remember to provide regular care and monitor your taro plants for any signs of pests or diseases.

Common pests that may affect taro plants include aphids, slugs, and snails. Diseases such as root rot and leaf blight can occur in overly wet or humid conditions.

Promptly address any pest or disease issues to prevent further damage to the plants.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a thriving taro plant that adds beauty to your garden or provides delicious tubers for culinary delights.

Taro Plant Pruning and Propagation

Now, we will explore the techniques of pruning and propagation for taro plants, whether you are growing them for food or as ornamental houseplants.

How to Prune Taro Plant

Pruning is an essential practice for maintaining the health and appearance of taro plants.

Here are some guidelines on how to prune taro plants:

  • Timing: The best time to prune taro plants is in the spring or early summer when new growth begins to appear. This allows the plant to recover and put energy into new growth.
  • Removing damaged or dead leaves: Start by inspecting the plant for any damaged or dead leaves. These should be carefully cut off at the base using sharp and clean pruning shears. Removing these leaves not only improves the plant’s appearance but also prevents pests and diseases from taking hold.
  • Thinning overcrowded growth: If your taro plant has dense foliage, it may benefit from thinning to improve air circulation and reduce competition for nutrients and sunlight. Selectively remove some of the older or weaker leaves to allow younger leaves to grow and receive adequate light.
  • Controlling size: Taro plants can grow quite large, and if you want to control their size, you can prune the outer leaves. Trim the outermost leaves at the base, leaving the inner leaves to continue growing. This practice helps maintain a manageable size and prevents the plant from overshadowing other nearby plants.
  • Pruning flower spikes: Taro plants rarely produce flowers, but if you notice flower spikes forming, you can remove them to direct the plant’s energy toward leaf and root growth. Snip off the flower spikes near the base using pruning shears.

How to Propagate Taro Plant

Propagating taro plants allows you to create new plants from existing ones.

Here’s how you can propagate taro plants:

  • Tuber division: Taro plants are commonly propagated through tuber division. Start by carefully digging up the mature plant and removing the tubers from the soil. Separate the tubers by gently breaking them apart, ensuring that each division has at least one healthy bud or shoot. Plant the divided tubers in separate pots or garden beds, ensuring the bud or shoot is facing upward.
  • Leaf stem cuttings: Another method of propagation is through leaf stem cuttings. Select a healthy leaf with a stem attached and cut it into several sections, with each section containing a portion of the stem and a leaf. Dip the cut ends in a rooting hormone powder to promote root development. Plant the cuttings in a well-draining potting mix, burying them partially and ensuring the leaf is above the soil surface. Place the pot in a warm and humid environment, misting the cuttings regularly to maintain moisture.
  • Water propagation: Taro plants can also be propagated by placing the tubers or leaf stem cuttings in a container of water. Submerge the tubers or cuttings partially in the water, ensuring that the bud or shoot is above the waterline. Change the water regularly to prevent stagnation and the growth of mold or bacteria. Once roots develop, transfer the rooted tubers or cuttings into pots or the garden.

Remember to provide appropriate care and regular maintenance after pruning or propagating taro plants.

This includes providing adequate sunlight, water, and nutrients, as mentioned in the previous gardening instructions.

With proper pruning and propagation techniques, you can enjoy healthy and flourishing taro plants in your garden or home.

Taro Plant Pests and Diseases

Taro, a tropical plant known for its large, heart-shaped leaves and its edible corm, is a staple in many cuisines around the world.

However, like any plant, taro is susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases that can affect its growth and productivity.

Here, we will provide an overview of the common pests and diseases that afflict taro plants, along with some tips on how to prevent and manage them.

Common Pests and Diseases

Taro plants, while hardy, are not immune to the ravages of pests and diseases.

Understanding these threats is the first step in ensuring the health and longevity of your taro plants.

Below, we delve into some of the most common pests and diseases that taro plants encounter.

Pests

  • Taro Leaf Blight: This is a fungal disease caused by Phytophthora colocasiae. It is characterized by water-soaked patches on the leaves that eventually turn yellow and then brown. It can be controlled by using fungicides and by practicing good sanitation in the garden.
  • Root-knot Nematodes: These are microscopic worms that cause galls or knots on the roots of the taro plant, leading to stunted growth and reduced yield. Management strategies include crop rotation and using nematode-resistant varieties.
  • Aphids: These small insects suck the sap from taro leaves, causing them to curl and yellow. They can be controlled by using insecticidal soaps or introducing natural predators like ladybugs.

Diseases

  • Dasheen Mosaic Virus: This virus causes mottling and distortion of taro leaves. It is spread by aphids and can be managed by controlling aphid populations and removing infected plants.
  • Soft Rot: This bacterial disease causes the corm and roots of the taro plant to become soft and mushy. It can be prevented by avoiding overwatering and ensuring good drainage.
  • Taro Black Rot: This fungal disease causes the corm to rot and turn black. It can be controlled by practicing good sanitation and crop rotation.

Remember, the best defense against pests and diseases is a healthy plant.

Regular watering, proper fertilization, and good sanitation practices can go a long way in keeping your taro plants healthy and productive.

Buying Taro Plants

Stepping into the exotic world of taro plants can be thrilling, whether you’re interested in gardening as a hobby or you’re a culinary enthusiast looking for fresh, homegrown ingredients.

Taro, known for its distinctive large, elephant ear-like leaves and its nutritious tubers, makes for a spectacular addition to gardens and kitchens alike.

This root crop, highly regarded in many cuisines worldwide, can provide not just aesthetic appeal but also a source of delicious, starchy, potato-like tubers.

Advice On Buying Taro Plants

One might feel overwhelmed when setting out to buy taro plants due to the wide variety of sources and options available.

However, don’t let this deter you.

The adventure begins with understanding what to look for and where to find the right taro plant for you.

  • Plant Health: Always opt for a plant that appears robust and healthy. The leaves should be vibrant, not wilting, and the plant should show no signs of disease or pest infestation.
  • Plant Size: Generally, taro plants can range around 80-85cm in height. This should be considered if you’re planning on a specific garden layout or have space constraints.
  • Pot Size: Taro plants come in various pot sizes, and choosing the right one depends on your specific needs. You can purchase the taro plant in its original plastic grow pot or have it repotted in a terracotta pot.
  • Species: Taro plants, belonging to the Colocasia esculenta species, are well-loved for their starchy tubers and large, glossy leaves. However, there are different varieties within this species, like the Alocasia macrorrhiza or the Taro Pacific, each with its unique characteristics.
  • Climate Suitability: Taro plants thrive best in a tropical or subtropical climate. Ensure that your local climate is suitable for growing taro.
  • Growth Conditions: Taro plants require a bright and warm spot with high humidity. The soil should be evenly moist but not soggy.
  • Toxicity: It’s worth noting that taro plants are toxic if ingested raw or undercooked. If you have pets or children, it’s best to keep these plants out of their reach.

Where to Buy Taro Plants Online

The internet opens up an array of opportunities for purchasing plants, and taro is no exception.

But where exactly should you look?

And what should you keep in mind when buying taro plants online?

  • Online Marketplaces: Websites like Amazon also offer taro plants for sale. Pay close attention to customer reviews and ratings, as these can provide valuable insights into the quality of the plants and the reliability of the seller.
  • Established Plant Retailers: Websites of established plant retailers often have a range of taro plants available for purchase. These websites usually provide extensive details about each plant, including size, care instructions, and photos, which can help you make an informed decision.
  • Specialty Plant Shops: Online stores that specialize in exotic plants are also a good source for taro. These shops often have a curated selection of plants, with staff who are knowledgeable and can assist you with any questions.
  • Local Online Sellers: You might also find local sellers in your area who sell taro plants online. This could be a great way to support local businesses and reduce the carbon footprint associated with shipping plants over long distances.
  • International Online Sellers: If you can’t find what you’re looking for locally or nationally, there are also international sellers who ship worldwide. However, keep in mind the shipping costs and any customs regulations your country might have for importing live plants.
  • Check the Delivery Policy: Always check the delivery policy and the return policy. You want to ensure your plant arrives in good condition and that there’s recourse if it doesn’t.
  • Compare Prices: Prices for taro plants can vary widely depending on the size of the plant, the type of pot it comes in, and where it’s being shipped from. Comparing prices can help you find the best deal.

Taro Plant Varieties

The world of taro plants is as diverse as it is fascinating.

These plants, known for their edible corms and leaves, have been a staple in many cultures for centuries.

With a variety of species and cultivars, each with its unique characteristics, taro plants offer a rich tapestry of options for the discerning gardener or culinary enthusiast.

Taro Plant Varieties to Grow

Taro plants are not just a single species, but a collection of varieties each with its unique traits.

These varieties are spread across different genera, each contributing to the rich diversity of the taro plant family.

  • Colocasia esculenta: This is the most common variety of taro and is often simply referred to as “taro“. It is one of the earliest plants that people grew and is still a staple food in many parts of the world. It is known for its large, heart-shaped leaves and its starchy corms, which are used in a variety of dishes.
  • Colocasia antiquorum: Also known as Eddoe, this variety is closely related to taro and is primarily used for its thickened stems or corms. It’s known for its acrid taste that requires careful cooking.
  • Alocasia odora: Also known as the night-scented lily or Asian taro, this variety is native to East and Southeast Asia. It’s known for its large, blade-shaped, light green leaves. However, it’s inedible when raw due to the presence of needle-shaped raphides (calcium oxalate crystals) in the plant cells.
  • Alocasia macrorrhizos: This species, also known as giant taro, is known for its large, glossy leaves and is often grown as an ornamental plant. It’s also used for its edible corm and stems.
  • Xanthosoma: This genus of flowering plants in the arum family is native to tropical America but widely cultivated and naturalized in other tropical regions. Several species are grown for their starchy corms, an important food staple of tropical regions.
  • Cyrtosperma merkusii: Also known as giant swamp taro, this crop is grown throughout Oceania and into South and Southeast Asia. It’s similar to taro but with bigger leaves and larger, coarser roots.
  • Alocasia: This is a genus of broad-leaved, perennial, flowering plants from the family Araceae. There are about 90 accepted species native to tropical and subtropical Asia and eastern Australia.

Each of these varieties offers unique characteristics, making them suitable for different uses and growing conditions.

Whether you’re a gardener looking to add some exotic flair to your garden or a culinary enthusiast eager to experiment with new ingredients, the world of taro plants has something to offer you.

FAQs

What is taro?

Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a tropical plant that is grown for its starchy root, which is similar to a potato. It is used in many dishes around the world and is also popular as a houseplant due to its dramatic leaves, which are shaped like elephant ears.

What kind of soil does taro prefer?

Taro prefers moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It can tolerate a range of soil types, but it does best in soil that is slightly acidic with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Adding organic matter, such as compost or manure, can improve the soil’s texture and fertility.

What is the ideal sunlight for growing taro?

Taro requires full sun to partial shade. It needs at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. In hot climates, it may benefit from some afternoon shade. In cooler climates, it can tolerate more shade.

When is the best time to plant taro?

Taro should be planted in the spring after the soil has warmed to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be grown from small sections of tuber, small tubers, or suckers. Taro is relatively easy to grow and can be grown indoors or outdoors.

How much space does taro need?

Taro should be spaced about 15 to 24 inches apart, depending on the variety. Proper spacing allows for good air circulation and prevents overcrowding, which can lead to disease and pest problems.

How often should I water my taro plant?

Taro prefers to be kept on the moist side, so it’s important to water it regularly. Water the plant deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry, but avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. Taro requires a lot of water, especially during the growing season, so make sure to keep the soil consistently moist.

What are some common problems when growing taro?

Common problems when growing taro include pests such as aphids and diseases such as leaf spot. Aphids can be controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, while leaf spot can be managed by improving air circulation and avoiding overhead watering. Taro is also susceptible to root rot, so make sure to plant it in well-draining soil and avoid overwatering.

Can I grow taro in containers?

Yes, taro can be grown in containers. Choose a well-draining, porous container with a diameter of at least 12 inches, and fill it with potting soil. The soil surface should be one inch below the rim of the container. Water the plant regularly and thoroughly while actively growing, but allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

How can I promote healthy growth and yield in my taro plant?

To promote healthy growth, fertilize taro with a balanced organic fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Mulch around the base of the plant to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Harvest the leaves and tubers as needed, and dry them for later use. Taro requires a long, frost-free growing season and plenty of water to produce large tubers.

What are some tips for growing taro?

Some tips for growing taro include planting it in well-draining soil, providing ample sunlight, spacing the plants properly, watering regularly, and addressing pest and disease issues promptly. Fertilize the plant regularly with a balanced organic fertilizer during the growing season, and mulch around the base of the plant to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Harvest the leaves and tubers as needed, and dry them for later use. Taro is a versatile plant that can be used in many dishes and is relatively easy to care for.

Additional Resources

We have compiled a list of valuable resources to help you grow and care for taro plants.

These sources provide comprehensive guides, tips, and information on various aspects of taro cultivation.

We hope that these resources provide you with the necessary knowledge to successfully grow and care for your taro plants.