Growing & Propagating Sugar Cane


Sugar cane is a tropical grass with a sweet inner stalk. In warm humid climates, sugar cane stalks reach heights of 12 feet or more and spread easily. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture planting zones 9 to 11, sugar cane will die if temperatures drop much below 50 degrees F. Plant sugar cane in pots and keep them on a sunny windowsill, when the plants reach about 3 to 4 feet you can either harvest them and enjoy the sweet juice, or transplant them into larger pots for your covered porch or favorite sunny window.

Step 1

Fill a 4-inch flat seed starting tray half full with a mixture of equal parts rich well rotted compost and coarse gritty potting soil.

Step 2

Cut off the top 6 inches from fresh sugar cane stalks. Sugar cane can often be found in the produce section of grocery stores.

Step 3

Lay the cuttings flat on their sides in the seed starting tray about 4 inches apart. Cover the cuttings with compost and water the soil until it is damp all the way through.

Step 4

Put a clear plastic bag over the tray and loosely tuck it underneath or fasten it with a string. Place the tray in a well lit window or porch. Keep the soil temperature above 68 degrees F.

Step 5

Remove the plastic every three to five days, if the soil begins to feel dry, water the tray. You want to keep the soil moist but not saturated.

Step 6

When the seedlings sprout, usually in about three weeks, remove the plastic and continue to keep them in the warm well sunny place.

Step 7

Transplant the cuttings individually into 6- to 8-inch planting pots when they are 3 to 4 inches tall. Fill the planting pots with equal parts compost and potting soil. Water until the soil is damp all the way through.

Step 8

Keep your sugarcane sprouts in a sunny spot where the temperature is consistently above 65 degrees F. Sugar cane can withstand brief periods at temperatures of 59 degrees F but it will stunt the plants growth.

Step 9

You can harvest the shoots when they are 40 inches tall, or transplant them into 15- to 20-inch pots and place them in a bay window or on a heated porch.

Things You'll Need

  • 4-inch-deep planting tray
  • Knife
  • Compost
  • Potting soil
  • Plastic bag
  • Heating pad (optional)
  • 6 to 8 inch pots


  • KEW: Sugar Cane
  • University of Florida: Backyard Sugarcane

Who Can Help

  • National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: growing tropicals indoors, ornamental grasses, tropical grasses

About this Author

Olivia Parker has been a freelance writer with Demand Studios for the past year, writing for Garden Guides and eHow. She has studied herbal and alternative medicine and worked as a landscape artist and gardener. Parker is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts from Boston University Online.