Let's briefly compare a purple sugarcane variety with a green variety. The purple one is the regular sugarcane you'll often see at grocery stores. The green one is the dwarf version in the sugarcane family–often used to sweeten drinks or herbal tea.

Here they are:

purple-versus-green-sugarcane
Purple vs Green sugarcane

Size

The purple cane has a much thicker and bigger stem than the green one. Its diameter is about twice as big.

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Because of this, the purple's buds are also considerably larger than the green's ones.

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Texture & Taste

compare-texture-and-taste-peeled-sugarcane-side-by-side

Regarding texture, the purple variety is softer than the green one. It's easier to bite into and chew. Because the green one is a bit harder to chew or press, it is not widely sold or used for juicing.

The purple is sweet. It may remind you of the taste of most sugarcane juice. The green however is a hint or two sweeter. It's a very unique sweet taste–the kind that when you taste it, you instantly know it's this variety. When used in herbal tea, it smells fantastic.

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Stem Structure

compare-stem-stucture

One common feature I notice with both of these two is the zigzag stem structure. It's not one-way straight up but kind of leaning to one side then the other as it's growing up.

Growth Rate

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From my limited experience, it seems that the purple one grows a lot faster than the green variety. It develops roots faster and the buds grow up quicker.

The green however sucks up a lot of water. It's small but it's mighty. Although the purple one is big, it does not seem to drink up as fast or as much.

Responses to Readers' Questions

Explain the cause of red, blue or purple color in sugarcane

--> Thanks for your query. To be honest, I really don't know what the cause is for the outside stem color. If you mean the red mark inside the cane, then possibly maybe it's some kind of disease or infection. Or the sugarcane have turned old. I see it happen in the green variety:

red-mark-inside-suggarcane-piece
Red mark inside sugarcane piece
red-marks-in-sugarcane

Another more prominent one:

red-inside-sugarcane
Red inside sugarcane

For the purple variety, inside the top leaves you may see some red stripes. Some people call it rust. The yellow thing inside is actually the sugarcane fiber spit out by some insects. It may have been invaded by them.

inside-sugarcane-leaves
Inside the leaves

With the old red-inside sugarcane, some people don't throw it to waste but instead use it to make vinegar. If you're interested, I show you how to make vinegar out of sugarcane here: https://zenyrgarden.com/making-sugarcane-vinegar/

Hi. Do you know is anyone can send me sugarcane which are reasonable in cost? I am in NC. Happy to travel to farms if that is possible

--> Thanks for your question. There are quite a few. I'll list them here so you can see which best fits your needs.

  • Aloha Tropicals: https://alohatropicals.com/product/sugar-cane/  It's a little over $10 for a small rooted plant. Shipping is another $10 for orders under $25.
  • If you're traveling near Houston, check out JRN2 Nursery or HEB.
  • Some Asian or Latin American supermarkets have whole cane stalks for sale. They're about $3-5 per each 8ft long stalk. You don't need a lot to get started. Four or five 4-inch sections (with live buds) would be good enough.
  • In some sugarcane juice stands, they chop off the top parts of the stalks because they usually have a lower sugar content (not appealing for juicing). Those top parts most of the time still have very much alive buds in them. And the cuttings do propagate well. If you catch sight of some, you could ask them for it. They'll happily give you some. I got some of my cuttings that way.

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