Germinating Stevia (Sweet Herb)

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

I tried posting this question in the Seed Germination forum and got no response. Maybe no one knew what it was??? Though I try posting this here...

I don't know if anyone has successfully germinated stevia(sweet herb). I've tried twice and both times they were duds. Any advice? Maybe it's hard to germinated from seed and I just need to purchase the plant?? I need to know if I should buy more seeds or just buy a plant instead. The seeds packets are more expensive and have fewer seeds. So any advice here would be helpful. Thanks.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

It's hard to germinate the seed. I've had maybe 10% germination using the damp coffee filter in baggie method. The seedlings grow verrrrrry slowly at first, also... I think if I grew it again I would just buy a plant!

I've recently discovered "Aztec Sweet Herb," http://davesgarden.com/pf/go/94022/, which I think I like better than Stevia. It sure looks like it's producing seeds (although PF only has notes about vegetative propagation), so I'll play with it and see if I can figure out the best way to make more plants from it. Every kid (and most adults!) who nibbles a leaf wants one.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Oh, I wanted to add that I put the seeds in a warm spot to germinate (75 to 80 degrees). HTH!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Critterologist ~ I had never paid attention to Aztec sweet herb till you mentioned it here. I have been perusing herbal catalogues and found this mention of it...

Quoting:
mere 4 times sweeter than sugar, it's leaves also contain 57% camphor which make using it as sugar substitute, difficult
on this site... http://mulberrycreek.com/cgi-bin/herbman/search.cgi?query=aztec+sweet+herb&Uses=&mh=25&type=keyword&bool=and

It sounds like an attractive plant and I like camphor but am wondering if you have used it in place of a sweetener and did you notice the camphor?

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

We'll see if it changes as the plant matures, but so far the fresh leaves have had less of a resiny or "green" flavor than my stevia had. I've put it in tea, and it was good. I think somebody mentioned that stevia is better used as a sweetener when dried and powdered, whereas Lippia is good fresh. I'll keep playing with it... :-)

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

To use fresh, do you crush the leaf and add it to a tea?

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Yep!

Sometime I roughly chop mint leaves for tea, and I may do the same with the Lippia leaves... seems easier than trying to bruise them. I brew up a pitcher of Lipton's iced tea, and then I take a couple of handfuls of mint, sweet herb, lemon verbena, whatever appeals to me and brew that up in about 2 cups of hot water, letting it steep for no longer than 5 minutes before adding it to the pitcher of tea.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

hmmmm... sounds good right about now. : )) I think I will add that plant to the shopping list. Thanks, pod

Odd, what drew me to this thread was I have not seen Stevia seeds for sale but plants only around here. Wish you luck ~ lcosden
Please keep us posted on your trials...

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

Yeah.. I've seen stevia plant only twice and when I get around to ordering them, they'd tell me they don't carry it anymore. Then I saw stevia seeds at Park Seeds. I got those immediately thinking that they'd be easy to germinate like every other seed that I've ever tried. Nope. Think I'll just get the plant now that I know it's difficult to germinate.

I do know that had it on a heat mat and it poked it's green head out before it turn yellowish-brown and wilted. So, I'm not sure what I did wrong there but that happened both times.

Now, I'm curious about the Aztec sweet herb.

As for Stevia, I heard that the best way to use it is to boil the leaves to extract the sweetner and let the sweetened liquid into powder crystal. Supposedly that removes any green plant taste. But that's just stuff that I read.

This message was edited Jul 2, 2007 10:48 PM

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I have read similar info. I was relieved tho ~ couldn't imagine straining dry crunchy herb thru your teeth while sipping the sweetened drink... LOL In fact, I still have some dried in the pantry.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

That's interesting... I wonder if that's how they make the stevia powder I've seen in stores? I'd been shying away from it because of the "green" taste, but maybe I'll give it a try. Thanks!

Umm... pod.... I usually run tea through a strainer... ;-)

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

LOL

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

Well, newest update. My last batch of stevia seeds have keel over too now. Poked out two little tiny green leaves and promptly wilted. AGHHHHHHH. That was my third try. Now I'm out of seeds. But I'm seeing postings on how it's much easier to root cutting. Maybe I can impose on someone's innate kindness to toss me a cutting or two (in case I kill one)...

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

That sounds like damping off.... if you try again with more seeds, I'd suggest sterilizing your seed starting mix (in the microwave, with plenty of water to moisten it) and/or adding chamomile tea or hydrogen peroxide (1 Tablespoon of 3% per quart) to your water... look for threads on "damping off" over in propagation...

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

Yeah... But I'm out of seeds at this point though. Maybe when I get more seeds... ***Sigh*** Guess the more you want something, harder it is to get it...

East Moriches, NY

I have seen Stevia plants on sale through ebay...haven't used the vendor so I cant give recommendations but it's another source for you.

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

rparrny, yeah... I'm gonna just buy a plant instead... I heard that the plant dies after bloom. I still haven't found a definitive answer on that.. I was gonna just buy one and see what happens.. I also read that each plant is different in sweetness. Guess, I'll only be able to tell when I get one..

Greenville, WI

I have never tried to start Stevia from seed. I remembered reading that it was hard to start by seed. I do have a plant and love it. Further reading(technical) I found here:

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1999/v4-510.html

It is a plant worth investing in....IMO.

T.

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

Tilli, yeah. I basically kill all the seedling. I can get them to germinate. I just can't get them to stay a live after germinating. Didn't realize that until I bought the seeds.. oh well.

Greenville, WI

Want me to try a cutting for you?

T.

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

Tlili,
I heard that cuttings are the easiest way to go. And I also read that the sweetness to each plant is different. Some can be sweeter and others can be more bitter than sweet. There's some other people that say has too much "green flavor." Base on the plant that can vary... And if you like your plant, it must be sweet. I would love that. Thanks.
Lindy

mulege, Mexico

Hi - I recently read that there is a perennial stevia as well as the more familiar annual. By the way, if a plant dies after blooming, keep removing the flowers; that keeps it from thinking it's time to die.

The two stevias might have been at tradewindsfruit.com. I'll check when I'm not half asleep.

katiebear

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

I thought stevia was a perennial by definition, but a tender perennial -- which is why some people grow it as an annual. I've heard it can get fairly large as an indoor container plant... but I got tired of the slow and spindly growth of the couple of plants I actually managed to germinate from seed, so they're long gone.

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

Well, I got my paws on a stevia. It's sweet alright.. :) And it's trying to flower here.. I was told that taking the flowers off don't keep it from dying. And Critter's right. It's a tender perennial that's why some thinks it's an annual and others a perennial. It all depends on where you live. Like in Mexico, got a good chance it'd behave like a perennial but here in NY, it's an annual.. I'm trying cuttings indoors. Hopefully it'll take so I have a new baby one next year..

mulege, Mexico

Mulberry Creek has stevis rebaudiana doesn't say if it's annual or perrenial. Tradewindsfruit has stevia lucida which it says is the "lesser known perenial." I haven't grown either so I'm only reporting what they say.

Lexington, MI(Zone 6a)

My Stevia rebaudiana is sweet, and does seem to be perennial. I've been putting it in my greenhouse for the last 4 years. The gh is cool, can get down to just above freezing in the middle of winter on cold nights. It dies to the ground and comes back as soon as it starts warming up towards spring. I took the flowers off to bring it inside. Not because they seem to make a difference. Although the plants get a bit leggy when they're in bloom. I let it go to seed last year. But it's much easier to grow from cuttings than from seed. So I'd rather keep it cut back and have bigger leaves. I usually take cuttings from new growth in the spring. I have several diabetic friends that swear by this plant. My little plants are usually rooted and potted by May. If you think of it then and want to trade I'll put it on a trading list in spring.

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

Jeane

How do you root your cuttings? I heard they are easy to root but my two attempts weren't so sucessful...

Lexington, MI(Zone 6a)

I take tip cuttings from active new growth. Just long enough to have a couple of leaf nodes above the soil and a couple below. Use a soil-less potting mix (don't use miracle grow-get a peat based mix without additives-I use a professional mix called LC1 or sunshine mix) in a small celled tray. A very small pot or 4 pkg. would work. Sometimes you can get your local greenhouse to sell/or give you a propagation tray. I've found if the pot is too large the cuttings may rot. I don't use rooting hormone on this plant, it isn't necessary. The hormone can actually be detrimental with some plants (i.e. coleus & pelargoniums). Place the cutting in the soil so that 2 leaf nodes are covered. At home you can tent the tray with plastic or put the pot in a plastic baggy to maintain humidity. I us dome covers or mist the cuttings. Just remember they need some air circulation so you don't get mildew or fungus started. To speed rooting I have heat mats under my propagation trays. But they'll root fine without one. Make sure they have plenty of light. A south window or plant light. The cuttings I do in a window I turn regularly so they don't lean towards the light and get leggy. Stevia roots in 2 to 3 weeks for me. They can stay in the small cells quite awhile. I bump them up into 3.5" pots when they're well rooted. I start feeding them a liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion after they're well rooted. Pinch them back as they grow for a fuller plant.



Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

I'll try that. I use the miracle grow to root. Maybe that's why it didn't take..

mulege, Mexico

Just to add to the confusion, Johnny's Seeds calls stevia rebaudiana a "perennial/annual." They say the highest sugar content is before flowering occurs.

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

makes sense cuz no they are putting their energy into flowering instead of leaf growth..

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Lots of herbs lose flavor or turn bitter when they start flowering. That's why pinching is good! :-)

Sugar Land, TX

I saw some Stevia plants at Home Depot this week.

Just thought I would mention that. :)

Jo

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

My stevia died late last summer. I just cut it back to the ground and it seems to be coming back. I haven't tasted it yet to make sure those little leaves are stevia, but I will soon. (I'm very brave when it comes to tasting plants, but very ready to spit, too.) Of course, I border on tropical here.

Holden, MO(Zone 5b)

Hi stevia fanciers. This is my first year growing it from seed. I was perpared for the long germination. But so far these little guys are up faster then my peppers did. And I had my peppers on top of heat pads.

When I bought my seeds I also got a nice little booklet that tells everything about stevia "Growing and Using Stevia" The Sweet Leaf from Garden to Table by Jeffrey Goettemoeller & Karen Lucke.

You can get both seeds and book at Heirloom Acres Seeds , they give lots of seeds in a pack too. Heres their link, very nice people

http://www.heirloomacresseeds.com/CatalogPrd.asp?prm=2

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

Just to note -- I tasted that stevia that came back up and oooooooooo it's sweet! The pineapple sage beside it is coming back as well, and should shade it from the worst of the direct sun, so hopefully I'll have it at least all summer. I have a couple of recipes for sweetener and will make some -- next time I make lemonade I'll use it instead of sugar. If it's any good, I'll post a recipe!

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Cool! I'm not sure if my Lippia (brought the pot inside) went dormant over the winter or dead, although I suspect it's just toast. I'll look for another plant at the farmer's market this spring.

Lexington, MI(Zone 6a)

If you're talking about Lippia dulcis, it's probably dead. It's perennial to zones 9-11. It can be grown as a houseplant, but I've never had a lot of luck keeping it going through the winter indoors. I put it in my greenhouse last fall, won't do that again, just to cold for it here. Will have to get a new plant this spring. This time I'll keep it in the house and try again.

This is year 5 for my Stevia! It looks pretty dead through the winter and then all of a sudden it starts sending up new growth. It's gotten larger each year. Right now the new shoots are only about a inch tall. But it's in my greenhouse which is still going down below 40degrees at night. A little taller and I can take cuttings! Sure wish spring would get here...seems like winter is going on forever here!

Land O Lakes, FL

I'm a new gardner and, I too, bought stevia seeds without knowing how difficult they are to grow. I'm using the coffee filter approach and it is day four and so far not a thing.

But I am hoping!

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Finding a warm spot may help... but they can take a while... not to worry!

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