How to Grow a Sugarcane Plant


Growing a sugarcane plant is most often done through vegetative propagation instead of seed, especially when growing backyard sugarcane. The reason is because the varieties are hybrids; to get their traits, you need their clones, not parent stock. That means growing sugarcane using parts of an existing plant, specifically, the cane stalks. Stalks have segments separated by nodes. Buds emerge from these nodes once the sections of cane are planted. Because you can't ensure every node will sprout, you plant small sections with plenty of nodes and/or several cane sections.

Step 1

Choose where you'll plant your sugarcane. The spot should have well-draining soil and lots of sun.

Step 2

Perform a soil test through your local country extension office. The results will let you know what kind of fertilizer you'll specifically need and how deep you need to place the stalks.

Step 3

Choose the sugarcane variety you'll grow, this according to the results of your soil test.

Step 4

Obtain your sugarcane section or sections, asking your county extension agent for referrals if necessary. These sections are also called billets or seed-pieces.

Step 5

Till the planting site, keeping in mind that sugarcane form extensive root systems.

Step 6

Rake the planting site to smooth it.

Step 7

Dig a furrow or rows of furrows. These should be 3 to 7 inches deep if your soil test described your soil as loam or clay loam; go a bit deeper for highly organic or sandy soil. If planting rows, space them 4 to 10 feet apart.

Step 8

Broadcast one pound of 8-8-8 fertilizer over the furrows for every 10 feet length of furrow you will fill with cane. If your soil test suggested a different kind of fertilizer, use it instead.

Step 9

Use 1 to 2 inches of soil to cover the fertilizer, depending how deep your furrow is.

Step 10

Lay the sugarcane segments in the furrow. You need to overlap the sections like scales, with the end of one cane being laid beside the middle of the previously laid cane.

Step 11

Cover the canes with 2 to 5 inches of soil. Don't tamp the soil down.

Step 12

Moisten the soil and, as the plants grow, continue to water only enough to keep the soil moist. Sugarcane doesn't do well in wet conditions.

Step 13

Weed next to the furrows and, as shoots grow out of the furrows, gradually add soil to the furrow so that, eventually, the new sugarcane is growing on an elevated bed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Make sure to plant sugarcane away from high traffic pedestrian areas. The leaves of sugarcane are sharp and can cut people. Some sugarcane types can also fall over when mature. Protect the sugarcane from frost.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller
  • Rake
  • Narrow shovel/furrow maker
  • Fertilizer, likely 8-8-8
  • 2-to 3-foot sections of sugarcane stalks, each with about 6 nodes
  • Hoe


  • "A Garden of Your Own"; Michael O'Brian; 1993
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Backyard Sugarcane

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Fertilization Recommendations for Agronomic Crops
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Weed Management in Sugarcane
Keywords: planting sugar cane, planting sugarcane, how to grow a sugarcane plant, how to grow a sugar cane plant

About this Author

S. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media who specializes in making the complex clear. A freelancer for over 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews, learning a lot and talking to many interesting people.