Growing Stevia

Growing Stevia

Growing Stevia from Seed to harvest. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), also called sweet leaf, is grown for its sweet-tasting leaves. Appreciated by diabetics and dieters, stevia is a tender perennial that loves the warm sun and dies back in a freeze.The plant is native to Paraguay, where it has a long history of use.

Growing Stevia from Seed

  • Sow the Stevia seeds three inches apart, and about a half-inch deep.
  • Immediately after planting, water the area gently to help the soil settle. Keep the soil evenly moist as the seeds germinate.
  • Germination is very slow and germination can be erratic, so it is advisable to plant multiple seeds and to employ patience.
  • If you plan to transplant the seedlings, you’ll need to thin them once they reach at least two inches tall. Thin the seedlings back until they are at least six inches apart to give them room to grow in the garden.
  • To grow the seedlings in indoor pots, thin the seedlings to two to three plants per large pot to give them additional room.
  • Once the weather outside is warm enough, transplant your seedlings into the garden, allowing at least 18 inches of space between plants.

Maintaining Stevia plants

  • Stevia needs full sun to thrive, so pick a site that receives at least six hours a day of direct sunlight.
  • The soil should be rich in organic matter.
  • Avoid using chemical fertilizers, since these can affect the sweetness of the leaves.
  • Water once the top inch of soil becomes dry, but don’t let the soil become soggy.
  • Pinch off flower buds as they form, or trim stems to encourage the growth of new stems and leaves.
  • Protect plants in winter by using a row cover or mulch around the plant to retain soil warmth. In colder climates, it is best to bring the plants indoors during the winter.

Harvesting Stevia

  • Once the plant starts putting energy into flowers, the leaves become less sweet, so harvest the leaves before flowering.
  • Pick the leaves and dry them by placing them on a clean cloth in the sun for an afternoon.
  • Save the leaves whole or crush them into a powder and store them in an airtight container.
Medical Disclaimer

Information is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment offered by healthcare professionals.

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