Sugarcane is an easy perennial grass to grow and take care of. It doesn't need a lot of water and can do well in containers.
A sugarcane plant can fully mature in about 9-10+ months. You can start it from cuttings or seeds. If you live in the colder climate, you may need to put the plants in the greenhouse. Because these are a tropical plant and they love sunlight to grow tall and sweet.
One tricky part is to harvest the sugarcane while it is still sweet. Because if we leave it to grow for too long, the stem itself will gradually lose its sugar content and the inside of the stem will become hollow. If this happens, the inside will look like someone has sucked out all the good juice and most of what is left is the fiber.
A flowering sugarcane means an old cane and it may have lost most of the sugary juice inside.
So for the juice, people usually harvest these canes before they flower and produce seeds. But for propagating, the top shoot of a flowered sugarcane plant is still usable.
Getting Sugarcane Cuttings Near You
You can find whole stalks of sugarcane for sale at some Asian or Latin American supermarkets. They're about $3-5 per each 8ft long stalk. You don't need a lot to get started. Four or five 4-inch (10 cm) sections would be good enough.
If you live somewhere near Houston TX, try JRN2 Nursery or HEB. They have cuttings and stalks of live sugarcane for sale. Try scouring your local farmers' markets as well. They may also have some.
If none of that works, you may just order them online. Aloha Tropicals is one place. It's about $10+ for a small rooted plant.
Make Sure the Buds Are Alive
One important thing when getting your sugarcane cuttings is to look for the buds. These are the little sprouting eyes along both sides of the stem. From here, new sugarcane stalks will shoot out.
In some place, they freeze the sugarcane for a longer shelf-life. Unfortunately, these buds won't be viable any more for propagating.
Sometimes the buds may dry up and be dead as well. You won't get any sugarcane from these. So when getting the cuttings, make sure the buds are there and alive. You'll get good results from these.
These are what some of the dead buds look like:
The little shoots have been chopped off along with the root openings. You wouldn't want these. Trust us, we've tried propagating these in water. They give off a slight alcoholic fermented smell. And all they attract are some flying insects visitors.
Sugarcane overall is very easy to grow and propagate. You should give it a try if you like. And have fun growing!
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