How to plant arrowroot

Maranta arundinacea

Arrowroot is a perennial plant from the tropical rainforest that is native to South America, Central America, Mexico and part of the Caribbean. It can grow from 60 cm to 1.8 m in height, it is grown to harvest its rhizomes, from which it is possible to extract an excellent quality starch that is easy to digest. Rhizomes can also be eaten roasted or boiled, but they are quite fibrous.


It grows well in hot and humid weather, with temperatures above 20 ° C. In hot climates it can be cultivated all year round. In regions where winter has low temperatures, it can be grown in the warm months of the year.


It can be grown in direct sunlight or in partial shade.


Ideally, the soil should be light, deep, well drained, fertile and rich in organic matter. The ideal pH range of the soil is 5.8 to 6.3. Compacted soils or heavy clay soils are not suitable for planting.


Irrigate frequently so that the soil is always kept moist, but without being soaked. This plant is relatively sensitive to lack of water, going into dormancy when there is drought.


Arrowroot is usually propagated by pieces of rhizome. The ideal is to use small rhizomes, about 4 to 7 cm long. These must be planted directly in the final location at a depth of approximately 5 cm in the soil.

The spacing can vary between 60 cm and 1 m between the planting lines and 40 to 50 cm between the plants.


Remove weeds that are competing for resources and nutrients.

Removing flowers from the plant can favor the growth of rhizomes.


Harvesting is usually done 6 to 12 months after planting, preferably when the leaves are yellow, which depends on the climatic conditions of the region. The soil must be turned and the rhizomes collected. The smallest rhizomes of healthy and productive plants can be separated for replanting.

To obtain arrowroot starch, the harvested rhizomes are washed, peeled and grated or crushed until a pulp is obtained. The pulp is diluted in drinking water and this liquid is passed through fine sieves to remove the fibrous material. The liquid is left to stand for the starch to decant. Subsequently, the liquid part is removed and the obtained paste is placed to dry in air for several days, or in drying equipment at low temperatures (55 ° C to 60 ° C) for about 2 or 3 hours. The obtained arrowroot starch is pulverized (reduced to powder) and can then be stored in a dry place.

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