stevia plants, questions...

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Deb&Al, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. Deb&Al

    Deb&Al Well-Known Member

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    hi,
    i have 3 stevia plants that have done well for me all season. got them in the spring when they were only a few inches tall, and now, even though i took cuttings all summer and dried the leaves, i've let the plants flower out and they're about 3 feet tall and bushy.

    i have some questions, if anyone knows/has experience with stevia plants.

    1. we're expecting mid-30 temps later this week. should i harvest now, or will the plant take a light frost?

    2. do i let the plant self-sow the seeds, and will they come up next year? I live in york county, pa.

    3. will the plant come back next spring if i just leave it alone?

    4. if the plant won't come back, can i overwinter it like i do my geraniums?

    thanks in advance.
    debbie
     
  2. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    Here in California, I used a row cover on the few frost nights we have, and to my surprise, my Stevia grew back from the same roots as last year.

    I suspect it is a biennial or perennial grown as an annual.

    It should get through what you are describing for next week if you put a frost blanket/row cover over it, if those are your lows and not your highs. For when you expect real cold weather, I'd try trimming it down to about an inch high, and mounding it over with compost or something to keep it warm. See if it re-sprouts in the spring or not--if not you can always pull it up then.
     

  3. Rita

    Rita Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I carried my stevia plant over the winter as a house plant and then planted it out and it has really thrived. I have taken cuttings as the seeds are hard to start and I think we will get frost before the seeds form this year. I plan to cut it back and mulch heavily and see what happens but I do have a plant to carry over again just in case. Rita
     
  4. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    Stevia is botanically a tender perennial, but is treated as an annual in cold climates.

    The plant is climatically suited to climates from temperate to sub-tropical where temperatures range between 21-43°C, with an average of 24°C, but it will also grow in the tropics, where it prefers shade and will also grow in cold climates with winter protection. Plants in the ground have been noted to take minimal frosts.

    I'm in the subtropics, so my stevia is very happy outside all year round. I've found that if I leave it to flower, it will die off, right back to the roots. So I carefully remove all flowers the moment they appear, and always recommend everyone else to do the same. Mine's in a pot, and is at least 10 years old.

    I have tried to let a plant go to seed, and haven't had any success with babies. It is said that only 1% of the seed produced is viable, and some sources say that that percentage comes from the first flower only. I take that last statement with a grain of salt. Still, it certainly isn't all that easy to grow stevia from seed - not only are most seeds infertile, but they are very slow to germinate. Not all that easy to propagate from cuttings, either, though both can be done.

    Stevia is a rather cantankerous plant. It can die for no apparent reason in perfect conditions, just to spite you! But it's one plant you don't give up on. Even if it dies right back to seemingly nothing, it can resurrect up to a year later!
     
  5. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    culpeper, that is what happened to me. The stevia died, to all appearances, and since I didn't need that spot in the garden I didn't pull it up--then in spring when I was going to yank it as I dug my fingers down to find the roots, I found a bunch of sprouts coming up, so I left it in the ground and it came back. :shrug: