Sugar Cane ( Saccharum )

I picked this up at the Jerry’s Jungle Sale about a month ago and it’s been growing like a weed ever since. It’s about 4 times bigger now than when I took this picture.

(Sugar cane is the grassy looking plant in the middle of the photo. )

Sugar cane has been adapted to grow in dry and boggy warm climates. Home growers say it loves lots of water, so I’d try it in a damp spot. I’m also told it can be invasive, plant it with care. It grows well with banana plants and they like water.

Other home growers report sugar cane reaching about 8 feet in height with 2″ canes. The canes have ridges horizontally and look very similar to bamboo. The leaves are long and thin and more grass like than bamboo. Be careful they are sharp and will inflict paper cut type wounds if you make the mistake of running one through your hand.

To start a sugar cane plant, obtain some sugar cane in the grocer’s. Cut it into one foot or so pieces and stick it in the soil. Plant them sideways not upright. I have not tried this yet but several sources report successfully starting sugar cane this way. I’m also told that summer is the best time to start new plants.

If you just want a grassy look, cut the stalks as they grow and the grass will grow more upright. Personally, I like the look of the stalks, it’s my favorite part of the plant.

Houston heat and freezing temperatures are both fine for sugar cane plants.

The sugar is in the syrup in the cane. The water is evaporated from the sap leaving the sugar behind. Or you can crush the stalk to release the sap.

Sugar cane is originally from Asia and was brought back to Europe by Alexander the Great.

I cut this back and it died. So tread lightly with the pruning shears. It’s a more than a little scraggly looking, might not be the best plant for suburban gardens