How to Grow Sugarcane in Zone 5
It can be quite chilly--minus 20 to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit--in the winter in zone 5 on the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone map. Zone 5 cities include Des Moines, Iowa, Mansfield, Pennsylvania and Chicago, Illinois. These are not areas that one would think of as sugarcane country. Sugarcane does best in the tropics, where the weather is humid and warm. Surprisingly, it does well in containers, so with a greenhouse, you can grow sugar cane in zone 5. When looking at cane to purchase and plant, choose the cane with the most nodes, or rings. It is from the nodes that the sugar cane sprouts.
Choose a container that's wide enough to hold the sugar cane when it's planted horizontally.
Fill the container to within 1 inch of the rim with equal parts of coarse sand and potting soil. Water the soil until it is saturated. You may need to add more soil if it settles after watering.
Plant the sugar cane stalk 6 inches deep, laying it horizontally.
Cover the pot with plastic wrap and poke five to 10 very small holes in the wrap to allow air to circulate. Place the pot on a heat mat, set to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The cane will sprout within three weeks. Remove the plastic wrap at that time.
Place the pot in the sunniest part of the greenhouse and keep the temperature at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil moist.
Fertilize the sugar cane two weeks after transplanting with a liquid nitrogen fertilizer, at the rate listed on the label. Apply the fertilizer to moist soil.
Plant the sugar cane in the next size larger pot when it is 3 inches tall and transplant it into successively larger pots as you see roots at the bottom of the pot.
Avoid adding manure to the planting medium as it affects the flavor of the cane.