Sugar cane?

johnsonm08(5a)March 21, 2013

My local grocery has stalks of sugar cane, maybe 5 ft long and wax coated. Does any one know if they would root. I know how to plant them if they might grow.

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Not sure what you mean by "wax coated' maybe some sort of preservative thing to stop them drying out - can you ask the shops WHAT is used? Provided they aren't dried out inside, or treated in some other manner, I don't see why not.
You need a few nodes/eyes, and to cut them into a few pieces about 12-15 inches long. You said you know how so forgive me just to say for anyone else's benefit the recommended way is to lay them in a shallow furrow horizontally and then just cover with soil, making sure what they are planted over is good fertilized loam or potting mix. Once the nodes have rooted and shot up to about 1-2 feet you can cut up the original piece to provide separate plants and move them into final position. They need plenty of water, sun, fertilizer and heat, and usually are ready to harvest in a year to 18 months.
Regards the "wax" I would tend to soak the pieces for a while first to see if you can gently remove it as it may impede water getting into the stems otherwise. Good luck and hope you keep a journal.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 2:03AM
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Have never heard of sugar cane being wax coated before. Perhaps if it has to be transported long distances they do it to stop the sugar content fermenting along the way. If the whole canes are waxed by dipping them in hot wax then the process might have killed off any hope for sprouting. Just depends what degree of heating it got.

Laying the canes in furrows is the main commercial way of propagating them. I usually just put one end in water and they soon develop a thick mat of roots. One of the nodes needs to be in water, thats where the shoots and roots come from.

There's a lot of varieties of sugar cane. They're thin, thick, taller, shorter, plaine green, dark coloured, etc. But they all need lots of water, lots of warmth and full sun.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 2:59AM
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I have rooted grocery store sugar cane. Just the ends were wax coated, not the entire stalk, right? I cut sections of cane maybe 8 to 12 inches in length planted in a sandy soil kept slightly moist. Heat is helpful, but rooting will occur at room temperatures. Make sure that each section you plant has a node that makes contact with the soil. At some nodes, you may even see tiny roots before planting.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 4:52PM
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Last Saturday I saw sections of sugar cane at the farmer's market in Sunnyvale, CA. I assume they were "fresh" and I didn't see wax, although I didn't look carefully. They had a dark (purple) form as well as a more typical color. I didn't see a price, but I almost wanted to buy a piece of the purple. If anything would root, I imagine it would be those from the farmer's market. Only one vendor had them...

I do know the plants can be grown in CA, and I remember there's a description in "Selected Plants for Southern California Gardens", ed. Joan Citron. I used to live in Pasadena. Perhaps this describes the purple version that I saw? I'll just type what they say, as it might be of interest (pardon any typos):

"Saccharum officinarum 'Violaceum'. POACEAE. Old World Tropics. Black Sugar Cane. A rhizomatous, perennial grass with hard, jointed stems. 12-15' high and 1-3" in diameter. The leaves are up to 6' long and 2" or more wide. It blooms in summer with plumes to 3' high, but usually blooms only in the tropics. The plant needs moist rich soil in full sun, and will take wind if well-watered. It can grow 8-10' high in one summer from a gallon container and is useful as a screen or windbreak. It will also grow in a large container. This variety has violet to purple stems and leaves. It does not appear to tolerate frost, though other selections will. The stems are edible-or chewable-for the sugar."

Just from the bare canes, the purple form looks like it would be a more attractive plant. Next time I see these I'll inquire about the price and pick up a few node's worth. I think they were sold in reasonably short pieces.

The wax-coated canes remind me of the sections of Ti plant (Cordyline) that are/were sold that way in Hawaii. My mom got such a piece from my aunt about 40 years ago. She still has that plant!

Here is a link that might be useful: Purple sugar cane at GH Works--scroll down to Saccharum

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 9:09PM
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I was at the same farmer's market and the sugar cane cuttings were $2, or 3 for $5. So I spent $5, gave one to a friend in Palo Alto on the way home, and was left with 2 cuttings. I chopped those later into (mostly) 2 node cuttings, and I'm trying to root those. All reports online are that propagation is easy and quick. I would add that the cuttings were very juicy when they were cut, which I imagine is a good sign. Not all the side shoots appeared viable, however. Still, I would expect all would root. I plant to give a couple to people if they propagate. Ideally, this will leave others, if they root well and if anyone is interested (probably for postage).

Obviously, I was intrigued by the purple coloration of this variety of sugar cane.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 9:46AM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

I see the regular cane and a purple variety from time to time at our local farmer's market. I am going to try rooting some.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 1:14PM
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Thanks for the replies. Mine didn't look especially fresh or viable, so I passed.
I'll keep my eyes open though. It would be a fun annual here

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 4:09PM
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I was amazed at how juicy mine was. I planted most of the pieces in soil, but had 3 leftover. Those are in water, with one node below. The little circular bumps that I understand will become roots are showing signs of life.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 4:13PM
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I've had a stalk planted for a couple of months, with no signs of growing yet.

Edited to say: I just went and dug around the canes and, lo and behold, there are ROOTS!

This post was edited by kayjones on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 17:09

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 4:43PM
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Here's what some of the pieces looked like after 6 days in water. Interestingly the ones in soil seem to have longer roots. Also very interesting--the roots are purple at the tip--I think this is viisible in the photo.

My main concern with the cuttings is that not all have an undamaged side shoot. It's not clear to me whether the plant can regrow, where it was damaged or removed. I suspect it can, but I don't know.

I would also mention that I saw a previous post where it was suggested that most purple stemmed varieties have green leaves, not the purple leaves found in the particularly "desirable" varieties.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 12:20AM
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I found a nice piece to try and plant. .89 at the Asian grocery.
Randy, how are your pieces doing in the water?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 7:47PM
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Hi Mike,

That's a lot of nodes!

Nothing that didn't start with a nice growth bud has done anything. Two weeks ago I gave my sister the one fragment from water that had a nice shoot. I can ask, although she probably has just left it in water.

The ones that I still have in water are drying out on top.

One of the two rooted in soil that had a decent shoot is looking good. See below, on April12th.

I gave a friend (Joy) one of the three original pieces. She has kept pieces planted in soil outside the whole time. Those also look good, but are growing more slowly.

The conclusion seems to be that having undamaged side buds/shoots is crucial, at least for rapid growth.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 2:44AM
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And here's the one my sister has in water:

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 3:43AM
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