Wednesday, August 6, 2008

5: Stevia Propagation from Seed

Following is an excerpt from Growing and Using Stevia: The Sweet Leaf from Garden to Table with 35 Recipes.

Starting Stevia From Seed

Stevia is fairly easy to start from seed as long as the seeds are good. In the past, Stevia has usually been started from cuttings because it was hard to find seeds with germination over 50%. In conducting a research project at Northwest Missouri State University, I found black or dark seeds are consistently more viable. By separating out black or darker colored seeds, a germination rate of 80%–90% is common. Good Stevia seeds are now available. Sources are listed in the appendix.

Seeds not planted within a few weeks should be stored in a rubber-sealed glass jar or vial. For long term storage, place a little dry silica gel with the seeds—preferably the beaded kind. Silica gel is usually treated so it is blue when dry and turns pink when saturated. Beaded silica gel can be dried on a cookie sheet in an oven on low heat, with the door ajar. Keep sealed seeds in a cool room out of direct sunlight or in your refrigerator. When stored this way, good seeds retain viability for many years. Stevia seeds from our own plants retained most of their germination ability after seven years of low humidity, low temperature storage. Seeds stored at room temperature and humidity dropped from 90% germination at harvest to 75% germination 7 months later.

Sow seeds indoors in early spring, or any time if you plan to keep plants indoors or in a greenhouse with artificial light. Transplants should be transferred to the garden at least two weeks after your usual last frost date (we usually transplant about mid May here in Missouri—USDA zone 5). Plants reach a good transplant size after about 8–10 weeks.

If you already have a favorite method for starting seeds indoors, it should work fine for stevia. Just keep in mind that exposure to light helps germination slightly. Otherwise, requirements are similar to those for tomatoes.

See Chapter 5 of Growing and Using Stevia for these additional topics:

Seeds Storage
Shopping List for Stevia Seed Starting
Directions for Starting Stevia Seeds
Filling Pots
Stevia Seed Selection
Stevia Seed Planting
Lighting, Humidity, and Warmth
Watering Stevia Seedlings
Pruning and Transplanting Stevia Seedlings

Order your copy of Growing and Using Stevia: The Sweet Leaf from Garden to Table with 35 Recipes through one of these links:

directly from Prairie Oak Publishing


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