So, you want to grow your own sugarcane! Or you’re wondering, what kind of North American nut-case not living in Hawaii wants to grow sugar cane? Either way, read on for sugary enlightenment and some fantastic, hands-on tips on how to grow sugar cane.
I frequently come up with some pretty crazy ideas for our house and our garden (just ask my wife. . . and expect eye-rolling to accompany the answer). Growing sugar cane was one of them. Yes, we live in San Diego. . . . not really known for it’s sugar cane. No, none of our neighbors grow it, unless you count “Mexico” as a neighbor. This uniqueness makes it all the more fun to grow! Naturally, if I lived in Hawaii, I’d try to grow cacti, or maybe papyrus. The good news is if you live in a tropical or subtropical area (or anyplace that’s warm and has lots of water), you’re in luck!
The Positives of Growing Sugar Cane
1) Very easy to grow and propagate . . . great for plant killers
2) It looks cool, kinda like bamboo with longer leaves
3) If you grow it outside a tropical zone, your neighbors will refer to you as “eccentric”
4) You can eat it (or make juice from it). Yummy
5) Slicing the stalks into segments lengthwise makes them into great skewers for bbq’ing shrimp. Also yummy
6) Makes a good privacy screen to shield your crazy activities from the neighbors. Not yummy, but useful
The Negatives of Growing Sugar Cane
1) The leaves are sharp. Don’t plant a field of sugarcane and then run through it lightly clothed . . . you’ll die
2) Occasional dry leaf removal is required (see note above, use gloves and long sleeves)
3) Ants like it too
4) Starting your own residential sugar plantation and becoming a sugar baron may make neighbors jealous
Simple Steps for How to Grow Sugar Cane
Now that you’ve decided growing sugar cane is a brilliant idea, here’s how to grow it: First, you’ll need to find a stalk of sugarcane. Ethnic markets sometimes have them. You can also find it for sale with some online tropical plant nurseries. Make sure the stalk has at least one bud (you can identify the bud by a ring that goes around the stalk, similar to the rings on bamboo). This is where the new stalk will grow from. Take your prized cutting and lay it horizontally in your soil. If you’re planting in a container, plant it low enough in the pot that you can add a few inches of soil above it. For planting directly in the soil, just dig a trench a few inches deep and plant your cutting there. Cover with soil and keep things moist. Within a few weeks, you should see a new stalk called a ratoon sprout up. If you’re in a warm area and the plant gets water regularly, the sugarcane will grow fast. Within a year or two you might have a half dozen or more stalks growing in a clump. You can then do multiple harvests. If you harvest enough times, you may need to replant due to diminishing returns.
Next on my list of crazy sugarcane ideas. . . .I’d like to make some of our own Garapa! Ooh, and I just realized I could make rum from sugarcane juice. Anyone know where I can get a small sugarcane hand-press?
134 thoughts on “How to Grow Your Own Sugarcane and Become a Sugar Baron!”
Thanks for the knowledge received from this media,p/s how can erradica the termite disturbing growing sugarcane ?
I got some sugar cane and I put it in a bucket of water to let it sprout before putting it in soil. I’m growing indoors in Ohio during winter. I put a small heater on it to keep it a little warm… Above 30°. Will this work? Will it rot?
Did this work?
I own a distillery and I have been towing around with growing my own cane for our rum production. I have been having a really hard time trying to figure out which variety of cane I need to purchace. Any help would be appreciated. I live in Texas near Houston.
Our school grows sugar cane and this is all garbage lol
He’s right just didn’t go far enough and you are dead WRONG. Sugarcane is easy to grow and my father sold our syrup all over the eastern US. Jacksonville Florida is where we started.
I don’t have enough land to quite become a baron, but I may just give sugar cane a try. For the rest of my heirloom needs I’ll just stick with sustainableseedco.com where they have less “eccentric” varieties!
Okay so I’m in middle of the stinking desert Arizona. I realize we have the heat and the sun but the soil does not drain well do to the caliche beds and is very arid. Any tips for this to make growing successful under these conditions?
there is a market for every product, so good soil will be out there. you can use some flowering soil with some fertilizer. Also you can use clear tubs to keep most moisture in the air, just make sure to let some air flow.
Lori just grow it in a raised bed or a large container —I have one in the top of an old cartop carrier.
thanks for this awesome sugarcane reference!
does anyone know the usda zone hardiness of sugarcane? or how cold is too cold for this plant? I live in las vegas, nv
I have been experimenting in zone 7. Had a little success but waiting for the spring to confirm.
thanks Trevus, and please keep us posted here!
Josh if you have a long enough growing season and u do when the first frost comes before the sun hits the cane you top the top off and then go back and lop of all the cane. To save (you will have to bring inside a couple of stalks (or more if you want) store them in basement or cool dark place no moisture or anything till warm weather shows up for keeps then take out lay lengthwise in a row or square about 6 to 8 inches deep and water. No need to keep soggy just when dry water.
I’m in Southern Ontario – Zone 5 B. I kept a small sugar cane plant alive in our sunroom and put the pot outside late May. As there were numerous canes in a single pot, the height is about 5 feet (mosly razor sharp leaves).
It’s getting cold now and so we’ve moved the canes inside.
Do you have any recommendations on cutting the cane (ie. to keep it all alive but manageable for the winter)? The plan is to put it outside next year.
Thanks very much.
Might seem odd, but I live in NJ and grew two types of chew type sugar canes. Started in February indoors and moved to the ground in may. One cane was considered “pink blush” the other was a dark maroon color. The latter grew better in my opinion. Zone 7. They didn’t grow very tall, but tall enough to harvest. Ranging in length, 6 to 12 nodes on the primary canes (the ones that sprouted first). Its been exciting for me. I’m not quite sure how I can store these guys over winter however. I currently have the cuts waxed on each end to hold in moisture. They’re sitting in peat moss in my basement at the moment and have been there for a day now. It will soon be too cold to survive outside. I’m thinking of moving them to a spot in the refrigerator until I can begin growing indoors again, perhaps January. I just have no idea if they’ll survive that long in storage. Anyone else have any success storing cane for growing later? Thanks.
If you cover the buds with a good bit of mulch and replant next year you should be fine. I’m going to try to see if they come back on their on next year but I do have a few ready to go indoor come October or November I’m in NC
I’m in Jacksonville NC and I was able to successfully grow some “Home Green sugarcane” I picked up in Florida. I started the cuttings in water indoors until they rooted and then placed them in a pot in moist potting soil next to a south facing window to grow throughout the winter. By spring, they were about 15 inches tall and I planted them in my raised bed after all danger of frost passed. They are now grown to about 7 ft (09/26/2016) to the tips of the leaves.
My question is:
(1) How did you store your cane throughout the winter?
(2) Did your cane come back on their own the following year?
(3) If your can did come back how did you prep it in fall?
do you have any more websites like this one on different foods?
I would like to experiment growing cane in zone 7(Ric,va) too. You can request sugarcane from UC Davis, I am planning on doing so. I had previously received cutting for figs, pomegranates, grapes from them, UC Davis is Awesome. 90% of my cuttings survived. You only have to pay postage. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/site_holding.pl?MIA . Scroll down to Saccharum, click on any link, click accession link, click “Request this germplasm” Thanks for the great article!
Thanks for the tip Lisa, really cool!
https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/search.aspx is the newer link
I would love love some non Gmo seeds, anyone!?!? I’m outside the typical grow zone but I am building a greenhouse and would love to try sugar cane! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
I just read your question about seed. did you find any seed this year? I live in Raleigh NC and my cane is looking very good. I have the purple varity. If you need seed next year let me know as I am planning to cut mine this week and store it.
Jim, I live in Sanford and would like to grow sugar cane. I loved it as a child. I had my uncle give me a cane and my question is, when do I plant the stalk? Now or wait til spring?
Jim, when do you plant your cane and how do you protect it during the winter.
I am in Zebulon, NC and am having a hard time getting started.
I am in Henderson NC. Did you find seed?
I live in Raleigh NC and started some last year. Just looked at it todat and so far it is looking good, have to do something before cold though.
Jim, I am Raleigh as well but wanted to give sugar cane a try. I planted six nodes last year and only one sprouted. Is this typical for this area? I am going to try again in the spring but wanted to know if you had any advice?
Maybe I did not properly fertilize?
I got a pretty substantial harvest this year of Georgia Red and Homegrown Green out of my small garden in NC.
How do I predict a long supplemental cane after months of March through sugarcane cutting, please accept explanations ksih
where can I buy surgare seeds or thee name of the form to grow surgare also I live near louisville ky reply to I again of with the information
Its short and sweet article. Very useful…Thanks.
Your presentation on sugarcane is absolutely entertaining, and informative.
I did plenty of research and learned that a Florida sugarcane farmer suggest to never use manure in or around the soil you are growing your cane in. I investigated this and learned that manure will burn most any plant if it is used raw.
Who would care to use raw manure anyway?
I suggest using mulch or “farm soil” made from a variety of animal and vegetable matter, which has composted into valuable nutrient rich soil. Some time in the near future, I intend to experiement with growing sugarcane in a soiless medium under hydroponic control, using only farm soil tea in low concentration, inside of my hydroponic facillity near Houston Tx. I’ll keep you informed if youre interested in this type of farming, which by the way, can be done even in Antarctica with the proper insulation. Many Governments are already experimenting with it. : )
Thanks for the detailed comments and tips Hydrona. Would love to hear about the hydroponic facility (as long as it doesn’t get us arrested or subpoenaed). 😉
Good luck with the projects in the meantime!
Ha ha ha ha!!
NOT that kind of hydroponics.
However, I hear that many farmers are setting up facilities for “special” hydroponics, just incase there is a mass legalization.
I’ll keep you posted on the facillity, I plan to use plats instead of towers for most crops. The towers will work perfectly for simple plants such as herbs and tomatoes, peppers and the like. Plats will work best for the cane, where supports are included.
Using a hydroponic systems makes it easier to employ co2 for higher plant harvest. Also, Aquaponics are a (fast) growing project for many small opperations.
You can make your own co2 with yeast and sugar, amount depends on how many plants are farmed.
You can go on ebay to get a hand press for your sugarcane. Its very inexpensive.
What are the zone requirements? I’d like to grow it in zone 7, I assume that sugar cane is a perennial. If so what needs to be done to protect from frost? If it’s an annual how long does it take to mature for harvest?
I am interested in becoming a sugar cane farmer and this piece is highly informative. You are doing a great job keep it up!
Is it possible to grow sugarcane indoors? I live too far north to grow it outside, but was curious about indoor growing.
Hi Dawn. I haven’t heard of people growing it indoors. It really needs a lot of sunlight and healthy doses of water and draining soil. The cane tends to grow really tall too, so even if you did grow indoors, it would likely bump up against most ceilings. If you do experiment with growing indoors, please let us know how it turns out!
I want to know someone you can send me some seeds or cutting from heirloom sugarcane to Bulgaria? Contact me: email@example.com or Skype: no_names900
And some of you know what sugarcane varieties are best suited for the production of rum?
Molasses makes rum, sugar makes ethanol.
Both molasses and sugar come from the sugar cane.
The sugar beet provides ample mounts of sugar for making your personal stock of rum, I’d stay with the sugar cane.
try this link to wikkipedia on rum: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiced_rum#Grades
You will also need a still, I would suggest a small one usually used for making essential oils, with “special attachments”, I would personally suggest this site, its a great place: http://www.crucible.org/essential_oil_distiller_operation.htm
Be sure to research and investigate all options before you start making your own home brew, because in many places, its even illegal to possess just the essential oil still.
OMG! I about died when I read your “Sugarcane has lots of positives:” and “It also has a couple negatives:” Positive #6 and Negative #1…I seriously for some reason LOL’d so hard I cried…thanks for the informative and humorous post
Glad you enjoyed it Kelly, come back and flatter us anytime!
cachaca is made from sugarcane juice not rum, rum is made from molasse, which is a side product of refining sugar…
Hi Chris, Rum can be made from any stage of cane processing. From fresh pressed juice such as cachaca all the way up to blackstrap molasses and everything in between. Cachaca or Brazilian Rum is just one “style” of rum.
Hi there if you are a little unsure about your sugar cane growing after putting it in the ground. one advise is to have at least two sections on a piece of cane where you can see something like little buds sticking out. light a candle and pour the wax on both ends of the piece of cane, ccover the ends entirely with wax then put it in a pot one to two inches deep on its side in the soil and keep moist. Then transplant after the leaves are about five inches tall.
Thanks for the comment James. What is the purpose of the wax? We’ve always grown ours without the wax technique and have never had an issue.
Are all varieties of sugarcane edible? The same sugar? Are any ‘sweeter’ than others? I live in south Mississippi and I know they grow sugarcane in Louisiana, but it has been years since I had a stalk. We used to cut it open and chew on it when we were kids. I don’t know where dad got it from. I just want to plant a few to let my kids do what we had done. It was a great memory.
thanks because of your article I am now in the search for a sugarcane stalk.
That’s great Sehjta, glad to hear we inspired you!
I LOVED your article. I found myself laughing so hard. I am going to plant sugarcane for ALL the resons you listed. Thanks so much!!!
Hello thanks for your information that is enough to know how to grow sugarcane.but can you tell me the altitude ranges which is better for the growth of sugarcane?and also i like to ask you if there are some diseases which affect the growth of sugarcane plant?
25 years ago my grandfather grew it in Jones county.. he had an old mule drawn press and everything for making molasses. So yes it will grow in NC (on the coastal plane anyhow) now I am getting ready to grow some starting from seeds.
Which one of these is the fastest growing plant from below,
2. Sugar Cane.
Zahid, is this a quiz? I’m having flashbacks to elementary school! I’m going to go with Bamboo. That’s my final answer. ; )
Hello, im trying to find a source where i can purchase large amounts of sugarcaen in san diego county, i grow it aswell but it grows slowly and i need large amounts, anyone know of som local or even urban farmers/gardeners i could contact?
please let me know
I deal with a family in Alabama 205-516-1673 they are great!!!
Thanks for the information and phone#, I called and placed an order for sugar cane couple of days ago and already received the canes within 4 days. Fall is time to plant sugarcane here in Alabama, so they are going in the ground today so we’ll see what happens come spring time. I’ve never grown sugar cane, so I’m a “newbie” to sugarcane. The guys selling the sugar cane have 2 or 3 different varieties so I got 5 pieces of each ( Super Sweet Purple and POJ– which they advised was like Purple Candy Cane).
But yes the phone # is correct at 205-516-1673 and they will take care of you, very nice people 🙂
Hi, I was wondering if you know anyone who sells sugar cane in San Diego? My dad grows it in our backyard, we also live in San Diego, and he was interested in growing the red sugar cane. Any information would help.
Erica, try Aloha Tropicals in Oceanside. . . they have it listed on their site.
Give Witherspoon Farms a call 205-516-1673 fast delivery!!!
I called this phone # and ordered some couple of days ago, going in the ground today 🙂 Great folks.
I appreciate you posting the phone # for someone locally here in Alabama, could’ve ordered from Ebay, but the cane I received was great and comparable price to what is being sold on Ebay— decided to “keep it local” 🙂 . Thanks again for posting
I am from south louisiana. People in my parish grow sugarcane and in the fall burn the fields.
Hi Cherie sorghum you talk about is it safe for the cows to eat and not poison them as it may be good food for them ??We do grow sugar here about 40 acc of high grade sugar and doing well at it so far yes sugar dose need alot of water the same as corn and fert as in cow poo and piggy poo . Random testing on the weight 3sticks of sugar whet just over 10 kg this year ?? Get back to me please John
I am growing sugar cane for the first time, and it is was going really well. Now the leaves are starting to turn yellow. Any suggestions?
Hi Kenya, some yellowing of leaves is normal, especially on the lower (older) leaves as they age. I typically strip off the yellow/brown leaves after they have died, which leaves sugar cane stalks that look a lot like bamboo.
a source for seeds?
So, where do I order some of those red sugarcane to plant in Phoenix?
I have 140 ac. Somewhere in California. How many pounds of sugar cane can I grow on this and how much will it cost me up front?
Sorry Mark, I don’t have any expertise on commercial scale sugar cane production. Keep your eyes on the comments here and hopefully someone else might chime in with an answer.
Hi Mark. It’s about 30/40 ton per acre
I live in espanola New Mexico and I don’t have a ditch or any irrigation system just a hose and my sugar cane still grows really good so when people say you have to use alot of water that is not true I water every other day I’m just saying new Mexico has good shugarcane fields to not just some places you just have to plant it right
i am from western uganda east africa. i have started growing sugercane but i want more knowledge on how i can get market for the fresh sugercane. I want people who are intersted in sugercane growing to work with me and also visit me give me more knowledge on sugercane growing , because here in uganda the technologe of sugercane growing is still very low.
996 Fort Portal Uganda
We havebeen growing sugarcane and making syrup for several generations. We have never had any disease on our cane but this year we seem to have one. There are long red streaks on many of the leaves or fronds. Can you tell me what this might be?
Possibly Red Rot disease, or Red Stripe which is one of many types of bacterial and fungal infections Sugarcane is susceptible to.
I like this article. I especially like the you’ll die warning. That was quite funny.
I found an interesting seed for sugarcane. Not from the south. I live in WA State and am going to just go crazy and try it here. I grew Okra here one summer & everybody said I couldn’t. It was one hella of a hot summer that year though, which is only reason it okra grew here. Anyhow, friends grow bananas here too…some weird variety.
Couple bucks for seeds. What the hell. Gonna try this one called Rio Sorghum “SugarCane”, which is an Australian variety. Look here for more info. Get 3-4 years growth off it if it works!
The Future is in Sugar Cane ! cool site. Interesting defenition .It being Portuges I did not Know.. But from the perspective of one born in Cuba and whose paternal side grew ,cut and (Illegaly during the depression)made sold and delivered on horseback,Rum..I stick to Guarapo. Still I get the point.. thanks..Trying to make this one fel at home we planted banana trees in Blk Mnt.. be a bizzare fun to try cane…Im finding out its very hard to get ” los troncos” to get going.. Order from Belle Glade is only way thus far…….keep u posted……Sweet site ..(ouch)
Hey Miguel, thanks for the additional thoughts. Your family sounds like a lot of fun (with the whole horseback bootleg rum delivery stuff)! If I ever make it to Cuba, I’ll see if I can track down some Guarapo first thing! Since you mentioned bananas, you might be interested in an article we wrote on how to grow bananas. Thanks for keeping us posted, and thanks for the kind words on the site!
Ps Not being rude but the name is Guarapo and its pretty good.. Not a bad idea…
Thanks for the comment Miguel. . . .but it’s actually referred to via a number of spelling variations. Check out the Wiki link that the word Garapa links to and you’ll see the there are a few spellings.
So being from C—- and living in North Carolina Id like to know what variety would grow up here. Then I can start my search.. Ive been assured by oldtimers that sugarcane was grown up here ..moonshines ago…… Get a real kick out of this… Lotta cane in the family
Hi Miquel, I’d just give any variety you can get your hands on a shot. . . . I don’t imagine there’s a huge difference in what would grow in NC. Let us know how it goes!
Funny!! Good information, thanks Marc, and the zombie combat information between you and Rebecca Funny!!
Thanks Zelice. . . great to have you as a fan!
Thanks for the article, you are a funny guy! 🙂 I used to get a small piece of sugar cane as a treat when my Grandmother went to the health food store. Yummy stuff. I was looking into it for my “zombie apocalypse go-bag” of survival stuff I might want to get into later.
Thanks Rebecca! Since you just happened to mention the zombie apocalypse go-bag, please stay tuned. We’ve got two anti-zombie tools we’ll be doing a review on most likely in January! The nice thing about sugar cane is not only can it provide calories, but if your cane is long enough it’s great for beating back zombies. However, we don’t recommend nibbling on any cane that has been used in zombie combat. . . . you’re just asking to get zombified! Stay safe and sugary!
Do you have a cane plant that i could have please and thank you
Hi Denise, for sugarcane by mail, try http://www.alohatropicals.com/
Love the website!!! But I still have one question (ok, just one to start with). I am one of the crazies growing sugarcane in Mesa Arizona, just outside of Phoenix, and my purple sugarcane is doing great. It is about 7 feet tall with lots of new shoots, but the sections between nodes seem to be rather short. Is this indicative of something, too little water, lousy soil (yes, it is bad), wrong or too little fertilizer, or just the typical of this specie? Any thoughts would be great.
Thanks for the kind words and your comment/question Charles! And welcome to the crazy sugarcane grower’s club too! I know exactly what you’re describing, and our cane plants do it too. Typically we see this at the bottom of the stalks and then find the spacing between nodes to be further apart higher up on the cane stalk. I don’t have an exact answer for you as to what causes it (maybe a true sugar cane pro can weigh in on this), but our cane is quite healthy despite it, so I wouldn’t lose to much sleep over it. Happy growing!
Hello I worked on a cane farm on and off for 20 years we plant in Sep + Oct just dig a trench lay the stalks in and cover with 3 or 4 inches of soil now we have mild winters here in Louisiana after several months around Dec its about 2 foot high then we get a frost it will kill the top growth but don’t worry come spring time it will re sprout and grow you folk up north I would mulch very thick
so the ground doesn’t freeze come spring remove mulch it will start growing again it gets 8 to 12 feet high when Sep or Oct come cut all the stalks leaving about 2 inches of stalk above the soil they will regrow again you can do this for 2 years the third year you will have to replant the newly cut stalks from the 2nd years crop its best to cut the top 2 foot off and discard it lay your stalks about 3 or 4 inches apart putting 2 or 3 stalks in trench then cover and watch it grow then you enjoy some great eating
will have sources for you to buy some sugar cane stalks in Oct
Thanks for sharing your sugar cane expertise Henry! Luckily we don’t have to deal with any frost issues here in coastal San Diego. It makes for year-round growing (although the cane growth is slower in the winter).
What is the growing time for sugar cane in Hawaii? From planting to harvest?
I enjoyed reading your article on growing Sugar Cane. I have some growing in large containers Here in Banning, California. I obtained a stalk at a Mexican Super Market a few years back. I rooted it straight in the container using pure ground bark mulch. I am wondering if the Sugar Cane likes high nitrogen fertilizer like lawn grass? Can you tell me how you fertilize your canes? How often do you water? I am thinking of planting them in the ground soon.
Thanks for the great advise
Thanks for the tips. I’m going to try to grow some sugar cane on my 12 acre farm.
Hi! just read your article and to let you know, sugar cane was raised in Northwest Indiana several years ago on the Chellburg Farm in Porter County. it was used as a small crop as an example to crops that were grown here in the 1800’s. The farm is government owned for the public to come and enjoy. There are all kinds of farm animals and gardening of course is another thing that is shown and cultivated. They have a horse that does plowing and sleighing…kind of…she runs away occasionally…and one things I got to tast was sugar cane. They also grew sorgum and harvested it and pressed it and boiled to make sorgum molasses. The sugar cane was sooo good…even better than chocolate! And no let down off a typical sugar high. Hope that info is helpful!
Hi Tara! Thanks for the Indiana sugar cane reconnaissance! I had no idea it’s been grown in Indiana. Sounds like a cool farm! Thanks again for sharing your info and experience on the Chellburg Farm.
this was really helpful i am growing the sugar cane in my back yard!!!!!!!!!!!!! good stuff
My cousin in Florida sent me your site, because she was entertaining the idea of growing sugarcane and I was talking about all the exotic plants I wanted to grow now that I’m in San Diego.
So, now your hilarious article has me hooked. What ethic markets can you get some of this sugarcane? Or has your plantation gotten to the size that a poor student might be able to acquire some for you?
Hi Kristin! Glad to hear we’ve got you and your cousin tuned into growing sugarcane! For sugar cane in the san diego area, try checking out http://www.alohatropicals.com/
i want to start a plantation on sugercane kindly send me some materials that will be usefull for me and sugercane famers on line
Hi Kolawole! Although we joked about starting plantations, we’re not experts in ACTUAL PLANTATIONS. I’m afraid we don’t have any direct plantation-starting experience. You may want to try and contact some other farmers online with larger scale sugarcane growing experience and maybe you can find someone who can point you to more resources. Our content is really geared towards backyard sugar cane growing. Good luck with the project and let us know how it goes!
I am interested in trying to grow some sugar cane. I brought some cane stalks and will use your tips from your website to get started. Thanks and will keep you posted
Your article on growing sugar cane was fascinating and fun to read. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. Yes, the cold north! Brr! Here, we share the same hardiness zone as the state of New York. I am also learning the ins and outs of sustainable organic farming.
On a farm, there are a few ways of acquiring sugar. There’s honey from bees, of course. It’s also maple and birch country up here, and their saps can be boiled down to deliciousness. Sugar beets and even pumpkins can also be used. But sugar canes? Hmmm… that brings up a few questions!
First, let’s set aside the cold. Let’s say I’m growing sugar cane in a warm, damp environment somewhere inside my home. The big question now becomes light. Does the sugar cane depend on a lot of light to survive? (It is a grass, so I assume that it probably does.) The other factor is hours of light. In the north, light becomes somewhat scarce in the wintertime. Does the plant die in less light, or does it hang on and survive until the next summer? If it does die, but grows well and produces in summer anyway, what are ways to “keep” it during the winter?
A lot of questions, but the end result might just be worth it. My sweet tooth tells me so.
Thanks again for the article, and all the best to you.
Thanks for commenting, and for your questions. It actually sounds like you have a quite an assortment of sugar-acquisition techniques at your disposal. The maple variety sounds particularly tasty! Anyway, to try and “shed some light” on your questions. . . . I would guess sugar cane needs a lot of sun. As you pointed out, it’s a grass. And the only places I’ve really seen it thriving tended to be sunny destinations. Since it sounds like you’re contemplating growing sugar cane indoors, and light may be an issue, I’ll throw out another crazy idea. How about an LED grow light? They’re expensive, but use a lot less electricity than more traditional grow lights. Or maybe you could use a traditional grow light (which run hot), and the light can also serve as a space heater too? ; )
As to whether or not the sugarcane plant would survive winter with minimal light, I really don’t know. If I had to guess, I’d probably be on the pessimistic side in this case. If you meet with any success or failure, please come back to share it with us! Thanks Al!
Hi Marc (and Al),
I see this is a 2009 post — but wondering how it all worked out?
I’m trying to do this in Southern Ontario!
I HAVE A FEW ACRES IN SOMIS CA DO YOU THINK THIS WOULD BE A GOOD PLACE TO GROW SUGAR CANE
Hi Arthur. Sugar cane is ideally grown in the tropics. But I suspect that since sugar cane grows here in San Diego, it will likely grow in Somis, CA too. The biggest issue in southern CA is water. If you’re just growing for fun, then go for it. If you’re looking to start a multi-acre sugarcane plantation, then I’d consider southern Florida or Hawaii! Good luck and let us know how it goes!
Also don’t worry about cutting too much of your plants when yo trim it, just water it and believe me it will grow back. but when you trim it do it close to the ground or you will mess up the growth of the plant. it will not grow right like it was suppose to and will end up with trees growing on the stock, it will be a mess and will not produce that way unless you cut it to the ground and replant the pieces.
Thanks for the detailed comments Leo! Your sugar cane growing expertise is welcome here anytime. Let us know how growing in TN works out!
Hi Marc, good to see so many people are interested in growing sugar cane. I am from a tropical Island and have grown sugar cane for a long time in ST. Lucia, ST. Thomas and Hawaii, both the red soft stock and the yellow greenish hard stock. I am in the military and live in TN now. I am also interested in growing some here but I am not sure of how long it will take to grow and will it die during the winter, well I know that it will die but will it grow again during the summer? also to some of you that are having trouble growing your slits keep in mind that if the eye at the joints of the piece of stock you are trying to grow has dried up and died you will just be wasting a good piece of sugar cane because it will not grow you might as well just eat it. My suggestion is to plant a fresh piece using the directions that Marc provided. also if you have access to the leafy part of the stock trim it off with a knife and put it to stand horizontally in a bucket of water until the roots starts to grow then plant it in the ground horizontally or better yet put it in a 90 degree position and it will grow. Don’t forget that water eveaporates and you must maintain water levels in the bucket to keep the joints or ring part submerged because that is where the roots will grow from. Remember the more you water your plants the better it will grow. remember to only remove the leaves that have dried up or you will stunt the growth between some of the joints. good luck, Leo
P.S. I live in Namibia so the summers are HOT and winters are mild. We water our plants regularly with a grey water system we set up to capture everything we use in the house and rain water in the summer. Thanks…
I have two large (1.5 meter high) sugar cane bunches in my yard and I just cut back one to the ground because there are a lot of dead leaves from the winter. Now I’m wondering how long it will take to grow back. Is it okay to cut the cane back to the ground? Should I cut the other one back, too, or just try to clean it out (a LOT of work…)? Thanks.
I’ve cut some of my cane back to the ground, but my plants are pretty regularly putting out new stalks. Most of the time I just cut back a few unruly stalks rather than the whole bunch. Dead leaves are normal and I remove them by hand. Once they are really dry they tend to pull right off. Use gloves and long sleeves since the leaves are very sharp. Our sugarcane grows very fast in the summer. So if yours is like ours, new stalks should grow pretty quickly as long as they are getting plenty of water. But if you cut the entire bunch down to the ground, it may take quite a while to get a full sized bunch back. Very cool that you’re using a grey water system! Happy cane growing!
I just read on your website about your passion concerning growing tropical plants. I too enjoy doing that, except my job is a bit tougher since I live in northern California – Clayton – about 40 miles east of San Francisco. I am currently growing bananas, tropical guavas, hibiscus, and pineapple. I’v attached a picture of my banana plants. I’ve even had some fruit ripen last year – tasted great – and have three bunches growing right now.
I am interested in trying to grow some sugar cane. I brought some cane stalks home from Hawaii last summer but they didn’t grow. I have been searching all over the internet for a supply but haven’t found any yet. Where did you happen to buy your cane plants?
Hi David! Good to hear from a fellow tropical-growing “eccentric”! I got some of my sugar cane locally, and some via semi-local mail order. Give AlohaTropicals.com a try (just type in “sugar cane” in the search box, and it will take you to the product page). Let me know how the crop turns out! And if Aloha tropicals doesn’t work out, drop me an email and I’ll try to help out further.
Witherspoon Farms also sell sugar cane seedlings guaranteed to arrive alive & thrive 205-516-1673 ask about bulk discounts
are trying to bring in a stainless sugar canne juice extractor that is hand crank manuelly operated it works great and easy to clean about the size of a toaster oven I have one now its a gas.keep in touch don’t know when it well come thru
we have just returned from our holiday from Trinidad and Tobago with a piece
of sugar cane and will try to grow some at home(in Czech Republic – Central Europe)based on your instructions.We keep you updated …
Martina & Feri
Hi Martina and Feri! Thanks for the comment. Aside from being jealous about your trip, I’m very curious to hear if your sugar cane grows in the Czech Republic! If you wind up starting a sugarcane plantation there, I’d like a piece of the action, OK??! ; )
You guys are too funny for words. Wait, that’s not true. I’m way off base here. I mean I can’t even write this review without using words. Okay, so that expression does not apply here. Where does that expression come from anyway?
I discovered your site only today after looking up sugar cane. The nature of your humorous prose made me look up more on the site, and voila…more funny business. Consider yourselves bookmarked. Keep it up!
Hey Tom! Thanks so much for the kind . . . words! Glad you liked the article on Sugar Cane, and we’re happy to be the target of one of your bookmarks. Come back soon!
I have been telling my daughter stories of when my Grandfather used to cut his sugarcane stalks for me and my sister to chew when we would visit. She is very interested in growing some, and that led us to your wonderful article! And we are in San Diego! Do you think you could email me so we could possibly acquire some from you to grow? Thanks! Jen
No problem Jen. I just emailed you to get in touch. Glad you liked the article!
any thoughts on where to get a sugar cane press/mill/juicer either to borrow, rent or buy in the san diego area.
Would like to purchase but need one for a few days in early April
Sorry Rich, I’m not aware of any. But if you find a good source, please come back and let us know!
Just wanted to say I’m a 20ish year old and just had a blast reading your article, very charismatic and fun!
Thanks so much for the kind words GlitterSniffer (isn’t that illegal?)
Glad you liked the Sugarcane article and we’re happy to have you as an enthusiastic HomeFixated.com reader!