The foremost factor necessary for plant growers cultivating large acreages of Stevia rebaudiana (Bert) Bertoni is the production of qualitative bedding plants. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of osmotic-priming on the uniformity of seed germination. First, we evaluated the percentage of normal seedlings from two seed samples harvested in 2011 and 2012. The seeds harvested in 2012 produced 71.4% normal seedlings and thus they were used in the next experiments. The seeds were subjected to osmotic stress using five concentrations of polyethylene glycol (PEG-6000) at -0.2, -0.4, -0.6, -0.8, and -1.0 MPa in contrast with distilled water. Based on these first results, only -0.8 and -1.0 MPa were evaluated in the third experiment. The seeds were immersed in both concentrations of polyethylene glycol (PEG-6000) for imbibing at 20ºC for four, five, six, and seven days. Thereafter, we evaluated the time to the first normal seedling (Ti), time to the last normal seedling (Tf), percentage normal seedlings at the initial time (Pi) and percentage of normal seedlings at the end of every treatment (Pf). Osmotic priming increased the percentage of normal seedlings of the Stevia rebaudiana and reduced the time to the first and last germination events.
osmotic priming; radicle protrusion; time to seed germination; sweeteners.