Earth–Kind® Plant Selector Home
Start a Search

Common Name:


Scientific Name:

Saccharum officinarum

Family Name:

Poaceae (Gramineae)


Sugarcane is a coarse textured slowly spreading clump forming grass with pithy segmented culms up to 2 inch in diameter that become nearly woody by season's end. Two to 4 ft long strap-like dark green leaves arch alternately from the culms. Culms are sometimes varieaged purple or yellow along with the usual green on ornamental selections. The strong coarse texuture and historical significance of this species add interest to summer gardens. This species makes an effective summer annual ornamental grass in USDA zones 8 and colder, becoming a marginal perennial in 8b, a herbaceous perennial in 9 and an evergren in the warmest portions of 9b to 11. This species is a major source of commercial sugar. It can form nearly impenetrable thickets in the tropics.

Plant Habit or Use:

warm season annual, perennial, grasses, tropical


sun, partial sun

Flower Color:

Not ornamental, only in subtropcial climates.

Blooming Period:

Spring, summer

Fruit Characteristics:

Not often formed outside the subtropics.


6 ft to 8 ft as an annual, 15 ft to 20 ft in the tropics.


indefinite where perennial, 4 ft to 6 ft as an annual.

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Non-Defined Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Non-Defined Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Non-Defined Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Non-Defined Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Non-Defined Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

USDA Hardiness Zones:

9, 10, 11

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Interesting as a novelty to stimulate conversation. Culture and harvest of this species can be backbreaking work.
Click for Larger View Click for Larger View Click for Larger View Click for Larger View

A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.