The last time I was in Miami, I ordered a mojito and it came with a swizzle stick cut from fresh sugarcane. I’ve wanted to grow my own sugarcane ever since. It’s crazy, I know, to even consider cultivating a tropical plant like this unless you live — well, in the tropics. I have not yet figured out how to pull it off myself, but how hard can it be? It’s just a big, overgrown grass, right?
Sugarcane very much prefers year-round temperatures above 70°, regular water, and full sun. But really, anyone with a greenhouse could nurse a pot of sugarcane along as long as temperatures didn’t get below 40° in the winter. So if this intrigues you, search around for a tropical nursery that will sell you one of the extraordinary varieties of heirloom sugarcane prized by tropical plant geeks. There are black, red, and purple-stemmed cultivars, red and white striped varieties, bright yellow varieties, and so on.
Give the plants a couple of years to mature, and remember that the sugar concentrates in the lowest portion of the stem. To harvest the plant, you’ll want to cut it down at the base, cut the lower parts of the cane into six-inch segments, and then cut them lengthwise to peel away the tough outer skin and get to the sweet, tender stalk inside. Good luck with that!