Providing ornamental foliage and edible stems and tubers, taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a versatile, frost-tender perennial. In U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10, it grows outdoors year-round, but in colder zones it grows only as an annual. Also called elephant ear, dasheen and eddo, taro grows 3 to 6 feet tall and wide and thrives in water gardens. In favorable conditions, taro is invasive, and all plant parts are toxic when eaten raw. Its large, tall leaves suit tropical gardens, and taro grows well in large containers.
Things You'll Need
- Organic mulch
- 24-8-16 fertilizer
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Grow taro in moist, rich soil in sheltered, partial-shade or filtered-sun sites. Space plants 2 feet apart in rows 4 feet apart.
Water taro regularly so that the soil never dries out and is constantly moist. Spread a 2-inch layer of compost, well-rotted manure or other organic mulch around taro plants to conserve soil moisture.
Feed taro with a 24-8-16 fertilizer diluted at a rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon of water. Apply 1 gallon per 10 square feet of taro plants every two weeks or dilute and apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Dig up taro shoots that appear outside the desired growing area with a spade in late summer. Alternatively, dig up entire taro plants in fall to harvest the edible tubers.