Growing Taro In Containers:
The following details are about growing Taro In Containers and Pots.
Taro is a root vegetable native to India and Southeast Asia. Both the greens and the roots of taro plant are consumed. Like rice and lotus taro grows under water flooded soils in the ground or in large containers.
This article gives you complete information about growing taro in a container, about propagation methods, planting procedure, climatic conditions, pests, diseases, harvesting and fertilization.
- Scientific Name for Taro: Colocasia esculenta.
- Taro belongs to the family of: Araceae.
- Name for Taro is known by different names in different countries. Some of its names in India are: taro, arbi, eddoe, kasu, pan, bal, ghandyali, sivapan-kizhangu (seppankilangu or cheppankilangu), chamagadda, chaamadumpa, , bun long, dasheen, elephant ear plant, kalo, kochu, mukhi arrow root, ggobe, nduma, kolkas, gabi, toran, aroei, sato-imo, kimo, cocoyam, edo, yu, yutou, woo, wuchoi,etc.
And the most popular common name for Taro is Elephant Ear.
Green and root stock are edible. The greens of taro used by making many dishes in all the Asian countries. And the roots of taro are used in dishes like pancakes, cheesecake, cakes, pie, fries, taro kisabji, Savoury taro, satoimo taro chips, etc.
Taro greens and roots are a rich source of iron, fiber, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, copper and phosphorus. Taro also has antioxidants, vitamins A, B6, C and E. And there are many health benefits with Taro.
Taro is richer in carbohydrates than potatoes, 100 grams of tarocontain 112 calories. So people looking for weight loss won’t choose these roots.
Taro is a perennial herbaceous plant it completes its lifecycle in less than a year. And this plant doesn’t produce any hard stem above the ground, and by the end of the growing season and its leaves and stems completes its lifecycle at ground level itself.
The taro plant can grow from 3 to 6 feet tall, depending on this variety. The taro plant has large heart-shaped, these leaves look similar to an elephant’s ear, leaves will be light green and purple color. Root stocks of taro are elongated and round, and the size of taro will be in a size of a tennis ball, having hard cream-colored flesh covered with brownish skin and hairs. Its stems of taro plants are thick, fleshy and juicy, and they grow up to 1.5 m in height.
Methods In Growing Taro in Containers: There are two main methods of growing Taro roots.
- Growing Flooded or wetland taro in water, in this method of cultivating taro use large container or buckets or big jars or clay pots.
- Growing Dryland taro production in normal dry-soil in large container or buckets or big jars or clay pots.
The types of taro grow in water are much higher than the in the soil, and the taro grown in water are weed free due to water flooding. In Asian countries wetland taro is mainly grown in the waters.
Varieties of Taro and Types for Growing Taro in Containers:
There are many varieties of taro and forms of Colocasia esculenta for growing in water (wetlands) and in the soil (dry conditions). Colocasiaesulenta grows well in the tropical regions with humid and rainy climates. This taro plant grows 3 – 4 feet height, both the green and roots are edible, and the roots that can reach one ft deep.
The taros are differentiated by its the color of the flesh of their roots, the taro roots come in pink to yellow to white.
- Bun-long Taro: this taro grows well in tropical regions. It has white roots, dense and starchy flesh having amazing taste.
- Chinese Taro: this variety tarogrows well from wetland areas.
- Alocasia another same as taro plant, along with leaves and roots, the starchy stem of this taro plant is edible.
- Cyrtosperma, is another variety taro plant that produces massive leaves and coarse roots. When to Plant Taro Roots
Taro can be planted round the year in tropical areas and in cold region in spring are the best season to plant taro. Taro plant takes 200 days of harvesting period.
Taro has grown for their green, should be grown in temperatures as low as 10°C, and these plants can be grown in outdoors or indoors or in a green house.
Propagating Taro For Growing Taro in Containers:
- Taro can be propagated by offshoots (suckers) of a main plant, or by planting corms or by division.
- While growing taro from suckers, make sure the you are planting a good variety tar. Get the taro corms from a reputed garden store. A taro brought from the grocery store can also be used for growing taro in containers.
Ideal Time for Growing Taro in Containers:
- Taro (Colocasia esculenta), grows well in the hot and humid weather.
- The ideal temperature for growing taro should range between 20 C to 35 C (68 F – 95 F).
- The taro plant cannot resist freezing temperatures, and plants dies when temperature falls below 10 degrees.
- The Spring season is the ideal season for growing taro. Plant taro in mid spring, when the weather and soil has warmed.
Suitable Soil For Growing Taro in Containers:
- The pH level of the soil for growing taro in the container is 5.5 – 7.0.
- The taro plants thrive well in well-drained, rich fertile soil. If using gardening soil for growing taro, mix potting soil with some river sand to increase its draining capability.
- Mix the potting soil with composted or well-rotted manure before filling into the container. As the taro is a heavy feeder, it need soil with organic matter.
- Using a good quality commercial potting mix is also a good choice, buy a vermiculated potting soil rich in organic matter.
Ideal Location for Growing Taro in Containers:
- Taro thrives well full sun to partial shade. So, choose a location of the taro container where it can good amount of light, air and rain water. The taro plants thrive well in partial shade, both indoors and outdoors.
- Place the container in the shade in balconies, window sill, terrace, garden, backyards, front yards, etc.
Suitable Container for Growing Taro in Containers:
- You need large containers to grow taro. The larger the container more the taro you can grow.
- A taro plant requires a container approximately that can hold 4 to 5 gallons of soil to grow.
- Taro can be grown in any type containers, big plastic pots, barrels, buckets, golf bags, whiskey barrels or water tins etc. Large, black plastic colored buckets are recommended for taros. Black colored plastic containers are more recommended as they hold moisture for long periods.
- The main thing you should concern is plant should get sufficient space and a good drainage system in the bottom.
- And you should make sure the container has more drainage holes. Excess water harms can harm seed potatoes spoils them, so drainage holes help to drain out the excess water.
- A large rectangular container can hold 3 taro tubers.
Steps for Growing Taro In Containers:
- Fill a bottom layer of the with gravel or pebbles or fine mesh covering the draining holes to avoid dripping of the soil.
- Fill the container potting mix, leaving 2 inches space between the surface of the soil and the rim of the container.
- If planting a taro plant from a nursery pot, gently loosen the roots, and plant carefully, so that the soil level around the root ball is at or just below the level of the soil in the container.
- If planting a taro tuber or corms, plant the corm 4 inches deep from the surface of the soil. Make sure that the bud faces up and rootlets at the bottom.
- Now cover the surface of the soil in the container with gravel or pebbles till the top of the container. This prevents water clogging and also retains moisture.
- The corms will germinate within a 10 to 15 days and a small seedling will emerge from the soil.
- Now place the container in a warm sunny location and water plant. Taro thrives in a partial shade but needs heat for fast and healthy growth.
- Containers should be moved indoors during the freezing temperatures. Taro is grown in greenhouses or indoors should be misted regularly.
Water Requirement for Growing Taro in Containers:
- Taro plants grown in containers needs plenty of water. So, water the plants at regular intervals.
- Constant moisture levels in the soil will make tuber and leaves tasty.
- Water frequently and deeply till the water drains out from the draining holes.
- Young taro plants need more water, and adult plants are drought-resistant.
- Over watering can cause root rot.
Sunlight Requirement for Growing Taro in Containers:
- Taro needs good amount of light to grow and produce healthy leaves and roots.
- Taro thrives well partial shade or filtered sunlight. Direct sun can harm some taro varieties.
Fertilizer Requirement for Growing Taro in Containers:
- Taro plants are heavy feeders, start feeding once the leaves emerge. Feed the plants once a week.
- While fertilizing, remove some of the pebbles or gravel placed on the surface of the containers. And then sprinkle granular organic fertilizer of ratio 10-20-20 on the soil. Replace the pebbles or the gravel back on the container.
- Feed the plants with potassium rich fertilizer twice or thrice during the growing season.
- Chlorosis in leaves of taro plants is caused due to the potassium deficiency, this deficiency can cause the death of the roots.
- Zinc deficiency in taro plants can cause inter-venial chlorosis. This make leaves pale.
- Phosphorus deficiency in taro plants can cause leaf petiole.
- Feed the plants with potassium rich liquid fertilizer like comfrey tea, compost tea or seaweed solution once in a month.
- You can also use fertilizers high in nitrogen in the ratio of 24-8-16 fertilizer every month or as per the instructions in the fertilizer packet will promote the healthy growth of the plants.
Winter Care for Growing Taro in Containers:
- Taro plants cannot resist the temperatures below 10 degrees.
- Move the plants to indoor, greenhouse, or place garden cloches to protect the plants from freezing temperatures.
- In freezing winter, cut plant completely to the ground and apply a mulch of dried leaves or straw. Mulch helps to keep root of the plants insulated from freezing temperatures.
Pruning and Weeding in Growing Taro in Containers:
- Weeds are a major problem in growing taro, so constant weeding should be done once in a week. Weeds suck the nutrients and resources and makes the young plants pale.
- Pruning should be done at regular intervals. Prune the dead or damaged leaves immediately. Prune the plant completely when you see yellow foliage during freezing temperature. Avoid pruning in warm season.
Pests and Diseases of Growing Taro in Containers:
- Taro plant is affected by common pests like aphids, red spider mites.
- Fungal diseases that affect taro plants taro beetle, taro leaf blight and downy mildew.
- Taro beetle and taro leaf blight diseases can be controlled by applying polyurethane, coconut husk or grass as mulch.
- Use horticultural spray or neem spray to control common pests like aphids and spider mates. A strong stream of water on the affected leaves of taro can relieve from aphids.
- In case of fungal diseases, use only organic fertilizers, don’t go for chemical fertilizers.
Harvesting Tips for Growing Taro in Containers:
- Taro plants take about 200 days after planting, by the time taro tuber get ready for harvest, then leaves turn yellow and start to die.
- The taro tuber maturity depends on the climatic conditions.
- Harvesting of taro is like harvesting potatoes or sweet potatoes. They should be picked before the first frost in autumn.
- Just pull out them from the soil firmly.
- Taro leaves can be harvested when the first leaf has grown. The more you pick the leaves more they grow.
- Taro leaves have great taste when they are eaten fresh, leaves can be harvested throughout then growing cycle of the taro plant.
- Taro tubers become edible after boiled or fried like potatoes; taro leaves can be consumed like spinach.
Storing Tips for Growing Taro in Containers:
- After harvesting, first clean the taro tubers and store in a cool, dry place.
- Pick the largest tubers first, as they get rotten fast. Small taro tuber can be stored for long periods.
- The best idea to store the taro tuber are, leave them in the soil until you use for cooking. Taro stored in soil stay fresher for a longer period than the harvested taros.
Is Taro is Toxic?
Taro roots and leaves are a bit toxic and leaves of taro are a bit harmful. Taro root and leaves contain soluble and insoluble oxalates. Soluble oxalates are instantly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and which are very harmful. Eating raw leaves or roots of taro are very harmful which contributes to gout and forms stones in kidneys. Cooking or boiling the roots and the leaves will absorb most of the calcium oxalate and makes edible.