HELP! Stevia plant in distress.

Discussion in 'Herb Gardening' started by S-H, Sep 7, 2023.

  1. S-H

    S-H Hardy Maple

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    Since the last 4 decades ago I've been hearing that sugar is bad for us, as it gives us tooth cavities. From 3 decades ago I've been hearing that sugar is the leading cause of obesity and diabetes. But from 2 decades they say that sugar is linked to all types of life threatening conditions, including cancer...

    Now listening to all of this, a lot of people converted to artificial sweeteners. But in the last decade I hear that even those chemical sweeteners can potentially be worse then sugar... :frustrated:

    Besides, they are not as good as reguy sugar anyway. In fact some actually tasted horrible - Yet those who were suffering from a very bad case of diabetes would force themselves into thinking that it tasted exactly like sugar. :shrug:

    Still, for so long, there was no real alternative to genuine sweetness of actual sugar - Until now, with STEVIA! A plant which is said to be 200 times sweeter than sugar, (so that's 20,000%, yes twenty thousand percent sweeter). With hardly any negative effects, or so I'm told at this point in time.

    So for the first time in my life, I ordered a living plant online. But guess what? It came damaged. :smt093

    The stem is cracked, obviously because nobody cared during the shipment. The plant also arrived a few days late. So was in poor health too. I ordered one just to see if it would reach. Therefore now I've ordered 2 more, (in case this one didn't make it.

    Yes I got seeds of this plant too. Which I will plant in December, (winder time for me). Otherwise the heat will kill them before germination. Stevia seeds are also notorious for being very stubborn, where only 12 to 15% actually become successful plants. So I thought that in the meantime I would buy living plants. Which I would be able to propagate on my own also.

    But I don't know what to do now, when this plant has a cracked stem... I have braced it by placing it between my lime bushes - That's why I had bought it, so I can have a constant supply of sugar free lemonade/limeade on demand.

    No I don't yet have any health issues, so I can still use regular sugar as normal. But I was thinking - Why wait until there is a problem? Why not start living in a healthy way from today?

    But in the meantime, what to do about this plant? Can it be saved somehow? Just don't want it to go to waste... Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

    IMG-20230830-WA0022.jpeg

    This is how it was when I opened the box. The delivery people obviously kicked it around a lot. I noticed that the stem was bent, but since it's a soft plant I said that it'll be alright.

    At least I wrote a very bad review of the delivery people online, (not the seller). So everybody can see how negligent they have been. But beyond that, I can't do much else.

    This is a rare plant over here, that's why my heart is burning. And living plants of stevia are almost never available - Supplier too just wrote on his page that they now have limited stock. So that's why I ordered 2 more.

    After watering it and keeping it in half shade for a few days, the plant has started looking a little bit healthy now. But the stem is still cracked.

    IMG-20230901-WA0011.jpeg

    And yes, I tasted it also, and it's EXTREMELY sweet! So sweet that it can taste horrible if you accidentally overdid it.

    Anyway these pictures below will now show you the current state of this plant.
    IMG_20230907_083113.jpg

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    I've now again place it in between my lime bushes (for support) after taking the pictures for you guys. I just hope this plant survives. As it's both rate and very beautiful.

    There is some new growth from below the point where the stem is cracked. So hopefully the plant should survive until next season. Since it's a perennial plant, it surviving is the main priority. But it still would be nice if I could save the main portion of this plant from going to waste.
     
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  3. Logan

    Logan Strong Ash

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    It looks as though it's recovering, I'd just cut the stem below the cracked bit.
    I'd be careful how much you use, it could have a bad effect if done so. Over here can get packs of Stevia sugar but very expensive. If you're worried about sugar just cut down on it, that's what I've done in the past and stuck with it.

    In our shops we have Truvia.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2023
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  4. Tetters

    Tetters Young Pine

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    @S-H The first thing to do now you have re-hydrated the plant is to take as many cuttings as you can from the healthy growth. Put your cuttings in a suitable compost and water well. Put a polythene bag over the cuttings and fix it with an elastic band, and then the cuttings will water themselves. Leave the pot in a nice shady area and hope for roots!
    If you put a stake by the plant now to give it some support it looks like it will continue to grow. If it flags again, as Logan mentioned, cutting the top off will encourage new growth on the plant anyway and make it bushier. The more cuttings you can grow, the sweeter your life will become.
    We are happy to use sugar here, just not too much of it. We have known for ages just how much trouble synthetic sweeteners cause to our health - a bit like some injections that are foisted upon us unnecessarily.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2023
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  5. Tetters

    Tetters Young Pine

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    Truvia is made from Stevia leaves. Stevia is said to leave an aftertaste, and can cause bloating and diarrhoea, as can all of the other sweeteners on the market.
     
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  6. S-H

    S-H Hardy Maple

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    2 more stevia plants which I ordered arrived yesterday. So now I have a total of 3!

    The first damaged plant (in the middle of the picture below) seems to have recovered a bit. So I'm now feeling very optimistic about it - As to me it looks like it's successfully turned the corner!

    But yes, should I see any signs of it struggling again, I'll take cuttings from it, (instead of watching it go to waste)...

    IMG_20230909_084157.jpg

    It so far doesn't seem to have any aftertaste. But it can feel bitter if you accidentally eat too much - I'm told that this is because it's so sweet, that it can easily overload the taste sensing part of the tongue and mouth, (keep in mind that it's at least 200 times sweeter than sugar)... So as long as we only eat a little bit, there is absolutely no aftertaste. It's like a few grains of dried stevia leaves, yes, only a few, are the equal of an entire tablespoon of sugar. So we can very easily get an overload of sweetness, if we aren't careful.

    I got these plants so I can propagate them. So not going to start eating/consuming them until I have at least over a dozen of them.

    The good thing about one of these three plants is that it's about to flower. So I'll definitely get fresh seeds from it. But I also want to know if the level of sweetness in the leaves diminishes when it starts to flower. Because (from what I've so far read online) some say it does, others say it doesn't - So I'll just have to experience it for myself.

    IMG_20230909_084323.jpg

    Another tip I'd like to share with everyone over here is - Never order a single plant online. As the delivery people are unbelievably irresponsible, (ordering on being deliberately sadistic). So always order 2 or more in one go. That way the supplier is compelled to package them in a bunch - Therefore a far lesser chance of them getting damaged.

    And no, I'm not a big consumer of sugar at all. I can easily live without it. But I do love an ice cold glass of lemonade/limeade in this sweltering heat. However later I feel very bad about it too. As I know how much sugar that contains. So that's why I wanted these plants. So I can enjoy lemonade without any guilt.

    Also, I really am now itching to ruin the monopoly of big companies. Which are now farming stevia on huge areas of land. But don't let anyone else have the seeds, or plants, (as this is now their new cash crop). Therefore it's now sort of like a mission in my life - To propagate this plant. And give away the seeds and seedlings to as many people as possible, free of cost! So let's see how anyone of them can stop me now. It will sure be very interesting to watch them try, and then see what I'll do in response...

    :cool:

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    Last edited: Sep 9, 2023
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  7. MIKE ALLEN

    MIKE ALLEN Seedling

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    Very interesting thread. I have never grown it, so basic horticultural suggestion is offered. 1. As already suggested, the plant can be cut down at the damaged spot or below. 2. I would bind the damaged area. any binding tape will do and use one or two canes as splints to add support.

    Yes your research on sugar substitutes is spot on. Why? I can never understand. Food producers so often add sugar plus sorbitol, saccharine,sucrose,aspartame etc of which most have adverse side effects plus most fruits etc have their own sugars.
     
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  8. S-H

    S-H Hardy Maple

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    Update is that all 3 Stevia plants didn't make it... I tried my absolute best, I really did, but just couldn't save any of them. Even the cuttings didn't work.

    Reason is of course, my unforgivable climate. As these plants I ordered were from the Rawalpindi area of Pakistan, (totally different climate from my own). While I am situated right at the coast of Karachi city, (a very long way down in the South).

    So obvious, they couldn't get properly acclimated. Also, they were adult plants, and I got them around the end of their life cycle.

    However now, at the start of this year, in my winter time, I planted all the seeds I had collected. And I must say, the germination rate is pretty poor, around just 15%... But now I have many little plants which ate growing bery nicely.

    I now need to protect them from merciless hot sun. So no direct sunlight. But they also don't do well in shade either - Therefore the answer is to let them have early morning direct sunlight, as well as around sunset time. From 09:30 to 17:30, let them have only filtered sunlight during the rest of day, (under the cool shade of a rope mesh, on which a lush green vine has grown).

    So up till now, I'm experiencing success. I still have over 15 plants right now. 6 to 7 I gifted to friends, and urged them to start propagating it also.

    This is a challenging plant to keep in my environment. Plus it's also annular, so will have to keep propagating it every year around the peak of my winter, (December/January) - Where temperatures are like a European summer.

    If my weather was like any other normal place in the world. Then I'd be planting seeds around spring season. Then cut the dry plant down to just a few inches in winter. And come spring time again, it would sprout new shoots from the ground.

    Unfortunately that's not happening in my climate. So I have to work around it, and only propagate it by seeds and cuttings.

    Of course, the ultimate solution is a climate controlled greenhouse. So that's what I'm thinking about next.

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    Last edited: Apr 12, 2024
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