Bamboo vs Sugarcane

Bamboo vs Sugarcane (Differences, Similarities & Growing Guide 2023)

Bamboo and sugarcane are very similar in their appearance. However, they are very different in both their uses and their unique properties.

Sugarcane is grown and used commercially around the world to produce sugar, whereas bamboo is mostly used as building material and food in eastern Asia. Want to know more about these grasses? Keep reading!

Bamboo vs Sugarcane

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Sugarcanes are smaller and shorter than bamboo. A bamboo stem is hollow while a sugarcane stem has a solid core that is filled with sweet sugary syrup. Bamboo is mostly used to make bamboo furniture, housing material, and mats.


Leaf ColorBright greenGreen
Stem ColorGreen/ Dark green/BrownBrown/ green/ yellow/ red
VariegationMalay dwarfs/ Temple bambooReddish Stalks/ Albinism
FlowerBamboo blossom, dull-goldenSugarcane panicles, white/pink in color

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Bamboo vs. Sugarcane Differences

Bamboo is an evergreen perennial grass that lives for 7-10 years on average. On the other hand, sugarcane is a crop that takes 12 months on average to mature fully. Let’s take a look at the other differences between these plants.

1. Origin and Name

Bamboo has been around for thousands of years. This plant can be easily grown in various parts of the world. However, it historically originates from China.

Sugarcane grows in different parts of the world, specifically South America, Asia, and Africa. It is a tropical crop that is assumed to originate from New Guinea where it has thrived for thousands of years.

2. Taxonomy

Both bamboo and sugarcane belong to the Poaceae family. This family contains over 1200 species of grasses that grow in warm and tropical climates. However, bamboo and sugarcane belong to different subfamilies and genera.

The bamboo belongs to the Bambusoideae subfamily whereas the sugarcane belongs to the Panicoideae subfamily. The scientific name of bamboo is Bambusa vulgaris while the sugarcane is called Saccharum officinarum.

3. Shape & Appearance

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Bamboo is a tall plant and grows very quickly. Some bamboo plants can grow almost 1ft every day. The stem of bamboo plants is round and hollow. A mature bamboo stem can grow to be about 15cm thick.

Sugarcane, on the other hand, has a cylindrical stem that is also solid on the inside. Its stem can grow up to 8cm thick once it matures. Both plants have a pole-like shape but bamboos are considerably stronger and sturdier than sugarcanes.

4. Differences in Color

Due to the wide variety of bamboo species, you can find numerous colors of this plant. The most common kind of bamboo is green bamboo. However, you can also find black, grey, or red bamboo.

Sugarcane also comes in many colors depending on the species and the growing conditions. Sugarcane can be green, purple, red, or black in some rare cases.

5. Leaf Size and Texture

Bamboo has fewer and shorter leaves compared to sugarcane. They have a soft leathery feel but are still structurally tough. Bamboo leaves can sprout at intervals throughout the stem of the bamboo.

Sugarcane leaves, however, are long with slight bends. They have a sword-like shape and grow outwards near the top half of the sugarcane. They have a sharp texture on touch but they are more frail compared to bamboo leaves.

6. Height and Growth Rate

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One of the most famous features of bamboo is its speedy growth. It is the tallest member of the grass plant family and one of the fastest-growing grass. Some of its many species can grow over 30 inches per day. Bamboos enter a vegetative state after reaching maturity since the entire crop of bamboo blooms together.

Sugarcane can reach a height of 5 meters but it can be less depending on the environment and species. Most sugarcane crops only reach a height of 2-3 meters. Its growth cycle usually takes between 9 and 16 months in a tropical or subtropical habitat. It can take up to two years when grown in colder regions.

7. Flowers

Bamboo groves always blossom together. Bamboo stalks that mature early enter a vegetative state until the majority of the grove is ready to blossom. Because of this, it takes bamboo 60 years or more to blossom. Bamboos produce golden blossoms and die after seeds form.

Mature sugarcane has flower tassels with very small flowers. You can easily spot them at the end of the plant’s stalk. Sugarcane flowers are white with a pink shade.

8. Growing Conditions, Temperature, and Climate

Bamboos are generally easy to grow due to their countless species, there will be one or two bamboo to thrive in almost all kinds of environments. Generally, they require a tropical or subtropical atmosphere, but they will grow just fine in a cooler area.

Sugarcanes are much harder to grow. The right environment for planting sugarcane is a hot tropical climate. The proper USDA hardiness zone for growing sugarcane is 10–15, while bamboo can thrive in 6–10 hardiness zones.

9. Light, Water, Soil

When it comes to light requirements, bamboo can be pretty flexible. Some species need direct sun exposure, while others can do just fine in a sheltered spot. For sugarcane, direct sunlight is a basic growing requirement. It won’t grow in a shady spot.

As for water, sugarcane is a thirsty plant that needs loads of water to grow. However, it is still vulnerable to being overwatered. You need to irrigate the sugarcane with a few inches every week. Bamboo also requires deep watering to ensure sufficient soil moisture. It is recommended to give bamboo 1-2 inches of water whenever the soil dries up.

Both bamboo and sugarcane can grow in many types of soils. Sugarcane needs rich soil that has plenty of nutrients, and it works just fine with almost all pH ranges. However, bamboo prefers a specific pH level between 4.5 and 6.

Bamboo and Sugarcane Similarities

Despite being so different on so many levels, there are a few limited similarities between both kinds of grass. For instance, they both have rings on their stems and they have narrow, tall trunks. They also share some similarities in their growing requirements.

1. Sunlight

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Sunlight is important for both plants to fully grow, but the light requirements can vary. For instance, bamboo can do well with indirect sunlight but direct sunlight for a few hours a day won’t hurt it.  Sugarcane loves direct sunlight and its growth can be affected if it is planted in a shaded area.

2. Watering

Sugarcane and bamboo are both thirsty and require a lot of water. Not having enough water can stunt their expected growth. You can water both of them once a week with 2 inches of irrigation water. In the case of very hot weather, you may increase the watering to twice per week.

3. Humidity and Temperature

Sugarcane and bamboo thrive in warm and humid climates. They prefer weather between 18°C (65°F) to 35°C (95°F). Both plants prefer humidity levels above 50% to thrive. If you’re growing these plants in a greenhouse, you can use a humidifier to regulate the humidity levels during the winter.

4. Potting and Soil

Well-drained soil with a neutral to moderately acidic pH is the best for growing bamboo and sugarcanes. The ideal pH level for growing bamboo and sugarcane is between 6 and 7.5. Using loamy soil rich in nutrients is great for growing bamboo and sugarcanes in pots.

Be sure to repot the plants once they outgrow the pots. Growing sugarcanes or bamboo in pots isn’t recommended because of their fast-growing speeds.

5. Fertilizer

Sugarcane and bamboo prefer fertilizers with high levels of nitrogen with moderate amounts of potassium and phosphorus. You can also use an organic fertilizer like manure for these plants.

Bamboos need to be fertilized every 4 months during its growth phase while sugarcane crops need to be fertilized with high-nitrogen fertilizers every 30-60 days.

6. Natural Habitat

Both bamboo and sugarcane are native to tropical and subtropical regions. These are places with adequate humidity and constant rainfall. These plants grow in several areas of the world, such as east Asia, southeast Asia, and even the pacific islands.

Common Problem for Both Plants

In most cases, when it comes to bamboo vs sugarcane plants, both are resistant to infection and pests. However, they are still vulnerable to some infections and problems. Here’s how you can treat these problems.

1. Rot infections

Rot infections are common in both plants.  Red rot is often spotted on the surface of the leaves of bamboo or sugarcane. Red rot targets the sugar-containing cells inside these grasses and stunts their growth. It also affects the sweetness of sugarcane.

Red rot spreads from infected stalks and plants, removing these stalks and plants will in most cases control the problem. You should also treat the seeds with hot water (50°C) before planting to remove Red rot from occurring. 

2. Fungus infestations

Another common issue that affects grown bamboo and sugarcane is the appearance of multiple spots on the surface of the leaves. This is the result of a fungi infestation. The spots are usually light green at first and turn darker until they become red or brown over time. To treat this issue, you can remove infected leaves and use a suitable fungicide made of copper.

3. Root Rot

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While both plants love water, overwatering or poorly drained soil can result in root rot. Root rot is very dangerous for bamboo and sugarcane as these plants are not easy to report. If your plant is infected by root rot, repot it as early as possible and prune all infected roots before replanting them.


When it comes to bamboo vs sugarcane, both very hardy species of grass that grow very quickly. However, keep in mind that sugarcane is mostly grown as a crop while bamboo is used to build furniture.

Despite sharing some similarities in their habitat and their appearance, these plants are very different in their needs, growth, and uses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is bamboo stronger than sugarcane?

Bamboo is a very strong material. It has the same weight-to-strength ratio as timber, making it an excellent choice to build furniture. Bamboo is much stronger than sugarcane.

Is there a difference between cane and bamboo?

There are major differences between sugarcane and bamboo. Despite sharing the same original family, the Poaceae family, bamboo is generally taller, grows faster, and is tougher. Bamboo is mostly used to manufacture furniture whereas sugarcane is a crop used to make sugar. It is also used to make paper.

Sugarcanes have a solid core filled with sweet sugar once they are ripe, whereas bamboos have a hollow core.

Does sugarcane come from bamboo?

Sugarcane and bamboo are different species from different parts of the world, they are both parts of the Poaceae grass family but aren’t directly related to each other. Sugarcane originates from New Guinea while bamboo originates from China.

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