Tropical Tapioca Plants In The Garden
Tapioca, or cassava, plants have been in cultivation for its starchy tuberous roots for about many years, with its origins traced to Brazil. They grow very well in tropical areas where potatoes don’t and act as a hedge against starvation. The word for tapioca comes from the Tupi language of what is now known as Brazil. It integrates ty for “juice,” pya, or “heart,” and oca, for “remove.” The Tupi word for the food is tipi’oca, in a reference to the way in which the food is extracted. Growing tapioca plants successfully at least eight months of warm weather. The plant prefers well-drained soil and modest rainfall, but it can survive where soils are wet. Cassava roots do not tolerate freezing temperatures and the best growth is in full sun. Growing cassava plants from start to harvest can take up to 18 months.
The plants are started from propagules made from parts of mature stems. These are 2 to 3 inch cuttings with several bud nodes along the length. Lay the cutting on prepared soil in a pot and keep lightly misted in a sunny location. Grow the cuttings indoors until temperatures outside are at least 70 F. (21 C.). Transplant them outside when the cuttings have sprouted and have at least 2 inches of growth.