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How to Propagate & Grow Sugar Cane

Tractor with Sugar Cane image by Liz from

Sugar cane is a tropical grass that grows thick stalks that are very high in natural sugar. It grows best in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11, although it can be grown indoors regardless of your zone. If you have a supermarket that sells sugar cane stalks, there is a good chance you can grow your own sugar cane at home.

Purchase several sugar cane stalks from your grocery store. They can be found in the produce section. If your regular store doesn't carry sugar cane stalks, check out other markets. Stalks should be 24 inches or less in length and have four to six "buds" or nodes. Nodes are spaced approximately every 6 inches and look like rings around the stalk.

Fill a growing tray with a mixture of potting soil and garden soil, mixed 50/50. Dig a trench in the growing tray that is 3 inches deep and long enough for your stalk to lay down in the trench. Lay the stalk lengthwise in the trench and cover with the soil.

Dampen the soil well. Place the growing tray inside a large clear bag and tuck the opening of the bag under the tray in order to form a cheap greenhouse that will hold in warmth and moisture.

Place the growing tray in a sunny room, out of direct sunlight, where the temperature never dips below 72 degrees F. If necessary, place a heating pad under the tray to maintain a constant temperature. Open the bag occasionally and add more water if the soil begins to dry.

Watch for sprouts. Within 14 to 21 days, new sprouts should appear. Remove the plastic bag and set the growing tray where it will receive direct sun for several hours each day. Keep the ground damp but not soggy.

Choose a sunny and well-drained location outdoors and dig a trench 8 inches deep and slightly longer than your original cutting. Mix potting soil with garden soil until you have a 50/50 mixture. Plant your cane in the trench, putting loose soil under the cutting so it is the same depth as it was in the growing tray. Press additional soil lightly around the new sprouts and water well, keeping the ground damp but not soggy.

Harvest your sugar cane late in the season by cutting the canes 1 to 2 inches above the soil. New canes will sprout from the roots the following spring.


Do not plant sugar cane near walkways--the leaves are extremely sharp and will cut anyone who passes by.

Wear gloves when working with mature sugar cane stalks.

Plant your sugar cane where it will receive as much full sunlight as possible each day.

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