Kava Kava
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: M. Fink
Posted on: March 1, 1999

How soon can you harvest kava kava after planting? What special things need to be done for a "tender perennial"?

At present we only sell kava kava as a dried herb. This means the roots you receive have been dried so long and so throughly that they would not sprout if planted. You can use them for decoctions, powders etc, but not as pot plants.

If you are able to get live plants, the roots can be lifted for use anytime, but unless the plant is big enough this might kill it. To be sure that you still have a plant after a harvest, wait until the root system makes runners and harvest those. When they start to form depends on the size of the plant you started with. Since kava kava is a shrub, it would take about a year or two to get runners from a healthy vigorous plant.

Since the plant is a tender perennial and survives only above freezing temperatures, it has to be wintered indoors in all zones except the tropics. Planting it in a tub might be a good option and since it likes shade it should not be hard to get it through the winter indoors in any climate. Plant it in a porous well-drained mix and keep it well watered. Never allow to dry out but make sure it has good drainage.

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