Stevia pruning question

catman529(6b)April 3, 2009

My S. rebaudiana plants are only a couple inches tall, but I will put them in the garden in a few weeks and expect them to be larger by then.

In order to keep them from bolting, can I pinch the growing tips and let suckers grow in, very much like you would do with basil? Will this work to keep the flavor quality of the leaves for a longer period of time so I can harvest more useable leaves?

Thanks

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Daisyduckworth(Aust)

My advice is to leave your stevia well alone and let it do its own thing. It can be a temperamental thing, and can die on you for no apparent reason. It won't flower until autumn, at which time you should remove all the flowers - if you don't, it may die.

Before it flowers, you'll have plenty of opportunity to harvest the leaves, but it could be a year or two before your plant is of a really useful size. Never remove more than one third of total growth at any one time. Once mature, it doesn't mind a haircut like that, and it will produce more bottom growth as a result.

Stevia grows best in a tropical or subtropical climate, so keep it in full sun. It's a fairly thirsty plant, but must have excellent drainage.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 3:48AM
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catman529(6b)

I might not overwinter most of my stevia; I'll probably just re-sow every year except for maybe a couple plants.

How large can I expect the plants to grow in the first year?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 2:26PM
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jjaazzy

How do you use your Stevia? I have a small plant but am unsure how to use it.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 10:11PM
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catman529(6b)

I will be using it to sweeten anything possible. Obviously, the recipes which heavily rely on sugar for consistency won't work with stevia, but I will do whatever I can with it, including eating leaves straight off the plant. I will also try making an extract/syrup for a water-soluble sweetener. Supposedly this is done with dry leaves and either water or grain alcohol.

I have noticed one of my plants has a much stronger sweetness than the others. I've eaten the bottom leaves...it's going to be hard resisting eating more, but I don't want to do any more damage. Once they are out of the potting soil and fluorescent light, I am assuming their potency will get much higher in the garden with strong direct sunlight.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 3:56PM
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Daisyduckworth(Aust)

I don't know how you can just eat the leaves! I find them so incredibly sweet that it's overpowering and almost sickening - and I'm a sweet-tooth. I also notice a strong after-taste - very earthy.

Here is a link that might be useful: more about stevia

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 6:57PM
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catman529(6b)

I agree, the sweetness is overpowering (and I'm sure I haven't yet tasted the sweetest it will get). I like the earthy, anise-like flavor that comes with it. I've heard that some can't stand it, but it doesn't bother me. I can't wait to use this stuff.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 8:30PM
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