Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to Care and Propagate Stevia

Stevia (Stevioside) is useful because it's a herbal substitute for sugar.  It's said to be 3x as sweet without the calories and the impact on blood sugar.  How cool is that? Well I got me a little Stevia plant and I've done a little reading on its care and propagation.  It's actually quite different from other herbs.  Let me tell you why.

Stevia Care:
  • Sun - Unlike most herbs (including Lavender, Thyme and Basil), Stevia should be kept in partial shade.
  • Water - Most plants appreciate deep infrequent watering.  Stevia has fairly shallow roots and would benefit more from light, frequent watering.
  • Soil - Most herbs like poor soil with good drainage.  Sand is usually good.  Stevia appreciates loam soil with lots of organic material as mulch (again because it has shallow roots).  Good drainage is still a must. PH of 4-5 works best (lowest I've seen for herbs!)
  • Fertilizer - Low Nitrogen fertilizer works best (important to keep sweetness) 
  • Pruning - Pinch of the tips to maker it bushier
Stevia Propagation 
  • Best propagated via cuttings since the seeds don't germinate well.  Seed germination doesn't assure you that the new plant will be sweet.  It's kinda the same reason why mangos are better grafted than just grown from seed.
  • I'm trying out cuttings in water.  I placed them outdoors but fairly hidden from the sun.  Let's see what happens in a few days.


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