How to Grow Arrowroot

Arrowroot is a vegetable that is closely related to canna lily. Arrowroot plant is a leafy, clumping perennial plant with a tasty root, or rhizome. Arrowroot plant can grow up to 3m high and they can form a clump of about 1.5m wide in a year. The rhizomes of Arrowroot can be slow-roasted, and it has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Arrowroot young leaves and the shoot tips can be cooked and eaten like spinach. You can grow thick borders of arrowroot along fences to prevent weeds, or you can grow them as single rows to create shade and shelter around salad vegetables. You can use the leftovers in the compost or you can easily chop them up to use as mulch.

How to Start Planting

Arrowroots are normally sold at permaculture or city farms, and also they are occasionally at garden centres. Arrowroots plants are so easy to propagate.

The plant actually prefers a warm, frost-free, coastal climate. They grow rapidly if they are given fertile, well-drained soil and full sunshine. The plant seed can be easily sown in summer or saved until the following spring. The seed need to be soak overnight in water and they can either be sow in a bed or individually in 15cm pots. To lift and split established clumps you can prune off all and leave the youngest stems.

Shake off the soil and also cut the rhizome into sections, so that each section has 1 or 2 unopened purplish-white growth buds. Replant and space the plants 75–100cm apart with the soil just covering the rhizome. Water the plant well 2 or 3 times a week until the strong growth resumes. Make sure you lift and divide the old clumps every spring. Arrowroot plant can produce a beautifully vibrant flower.

Arrowroot Care and Maintenance

Make sure you water the new plants regularly until they established, also water once weekly in dry weather. You can feed the plant monthly with seaweed tonic in spring and summer. Also mulch the plant with straw, sugarcane or Lucerne to conserve moisture and to protect the plant from light frost. In some areas grasshoppers eat the leaves, you can squash them or spray them with pyrethrum. Most times a rust fungus can cause brown spotting on all cannas. To prevent this, try and avoid high nitrogen fertilizers and fresh manures. Also, make sure you avoid putting the stems or leaves of the arrowroot around the existing clump.

Harvesting Arrowroot

Spring-planted arrowroot takes about four to six months to produce a crop. You can save the large succulent roots for cooking or propagating.

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