Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is also known as yuca and is an important plant for its starchy roots. These contain 30 percent starch and are high in carbohydrates. Cassava roots are prepared and eaten like potatoes. Cassava originated in Brazil and Paraguay, but now many other nations are learning how to grow cassavas.
Nigeria is the country with the highest production of cassava in the world.
How to Grow Cassavas
Growing cassava successfully relies upon tropical climates and 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 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.
Cassava Plant Care
Cassava plants produce huge ornamental lobed leaves. They can thrive in the summer as an annual in most regions of the United States. Warmer temperatures promote the most rapid growth.
There are several chewing pests that cause foliage damage but, otherwise, cassavas are relatively disease and pest free.
Good cassava plant care should include the use of a slow release fertilizer in spring. Keep the plants moderately moist.
To preserve the plant, move it to a pot indoors before freezing temperatures. Overwinter cassava in a warm, well-lit location and transplant outside when soils heat back up.