Sugarcane is a tropical plant, which belongs to the grass family. It is the source of sugar in all tropical and subtropical countries. The ideal growth conditions for this grass are warm, bright, sunny, and a frost-free weather. While harvesting the climate should be dry, cool, and frost free. Sugarcane is a long duration crop and thus it experiences all weathers like summer, winter, rain during its life cycle. The soil required for its growth should be fertile and well drained.
Planting Sugarcane in a Pot
For those who are keen on growing sugarcane in smaller quantities, potting it is a good idea. Take a look at this procedure that tells you how to grow the sugarcane plant in a pot.
- First you need to buy a healthy sugarcane stalk that is 6 feet long. You will find this at a nursery, a health store, or even online. A stalk should consist of at least ten buds, along every 6 inches of the stalk. These are encircled by rings, like those on a bamboo plants.
- If you are unable to find such a stalk, you may purchase several smaller stalks, but ensure they have at least one or two buds.
- Now cut the stalk into two using a saw. You will now have two stalks of 3 feet and at least 5 buds on each.
- Put the two stalks horizontally on a seed tray, and fill the seed tray with one part potting compost and one part grit. Now lay about 2 inches of compost on the stalks after you have placed them on the seed tray. Pour water on the tray and ensure that the soil is moist enough.
- Use a clear plastic lid or a plastic bag to cover the seed tray, and place it in bright sunlight. Ensure you water the plant regularly to maintain the moisture levels in the plant.
- In about three weeks you will see a new stalk, called 'ratoon' sprouting from the stalk. You can now remove the plastic bag.
- When the shoots grow to about 3 inches, pick out the ratoons and plant them into individual pots. These pots should have drainage holes. Use an all-purpose potting mix or a potting compost along with a topsoil mixture in the pots.
- To ensure that the soil remains moist, water the sugarcanes at least 3 times a week, and place the pots in bright sunlight.
- Move the plant into a larger pot once it starts growing, and harvest it when the sugarcane stalks reach a height of 3-3½ feet. It takes almost a year, and sometimes a little longer, to be able to harvest the stock, even from a potted plant.
Growing Sugarcane on Land
If you have an empty patch of land in your garden or backyard, you can even grow sugarcane there.
- Obtain sugarcane stalks, which have at least 10 buds, each.
- Dig horizontal trenches about 4 inches deep in the soil, and six feet apart from each other, for easy cultivation and weed control. Ensure the soil is well drained and fertile.
- Cut the sugarcane stalk into two halves, and lay them horizontally, in the trenches. Cover them with soil, so that the roots begin to develop.
- The stalk can grow up to a height from 4 feet to 12 feet.
- As aforementioned, it may take almost a year to 18 months for a stalk to mature. Once they have matured, you can harvest them.
- Once planted, it can grow and regrow at least 2-3 times. So if you've harvested once, you may keep using the same plant to grow more.
- To avail of this benefit of growing sugarcane, ensure that you cut the stalk very close to the soil.
- Sugarcane leaves are very sharp, so while harvesting, wear good gloves, and full sleeved clothing to prevent injuries.
- Ensure you regularly get rid of the dead leaves and weeds from the soil, otherwise the growth of the sugarcane stalk may be stunted.
- If you live in an area that does not have much natural sunlight, you can use 40-watt grow lights to grow the sugarcane plant. This is possible only with potted sugarcane.