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How to Grow Stevia Herb Plants

Stevia Rebudiana

Looking for a natural sugar substitute!? The Stevia herb plant is your answer. Grown for its sweet leaves, Stevia is calorie free and carb-free. It doesn't impact blood sugar. The leaves of this herb can be as much as 300 times sweeter than sucrose(sugar).

Native to sub-tropical regions of Peru and Brazil, Stevia is a perennial. It is susceptible to frost, so it is grown as an annual in many areas.

Stevia are good container plants. You can grow them indoors as a houseplant, in the fall. Just make sure to bring it indoors before the first frost.


Propagation:

Stevia plants are started from seed. Start Stevia seeds indoors, about 8 weeks before the last frost in your area. The seeds are hard to germinate. Low seed germination rates are common. It is suggested that darker(more mature) seeds are more likely to sprout.

Seeds sprout best at 65 degree soil temperature, or a little higher. We highly recommend the use of germination mats.

Many growers start plants from cuttings. If you are in a warm weather area and grow this plant as a perennial, growing them from cuttings is far easier, than trying to sprout the seeds.  


How to Grow  Stevia Plants:

Transplant Stevia plants into your herb garden after the last frost in your area. Space plants 6" -8" apart, in rows two feet apart.

Stevia plants prefer warm, but not hot weather. They grow well in full sun to partial shade.  

Plants grow best in light sandy or loamy soils that are well drained. They do not like wet soils.

Do not use a lot of nitrogen fertilizer. Your plants will do well, if you add compost or mulch on top of the soil. This will feed your plants slowly.

While the plants do not like wet soils, they also do not like dry soils, either. Keep soil moist, not wet. Mulching plants helps to retain good moisture levels.   

 


Harvesting and Drying Stevia leaves:

You can harvest Stevia leaves as soon as there is enough to use. Pick leaves in the morning, when sweetness is at its maximum.

Pick leaves before the plant begins to flower, as the leaves then turn bitter. Pinching off flower blooms, as soon as they begin to appear, prolongs the harvest.

Harvest the entire plant in the fall before the first frost. Hang plants upside down to dry, in a well ventilated area. After they are dry, remove the leaves. You can also use the tender, young growing tips. More on Drying Herbs

Use a coffee grinder to powder the dried leaves. Store powdered leaves in an air-tight container.


Main Cooking Uses:

Stevia leaves can be used raw or cooked. Try it as a natural sugar substitute in your favorite recipes.

In addition to using the dried, powdered leaves, the green leaves can be put in water. The sweetened water is then used in recipes.

Try stevia as a herbal tea, too.


Insects and Disease:

Stevia plants have few insect problems. Rather, it has insect repelling qualities.


Medicinal Uses:

For Diabetics, this herb may help. Medical research suggests Stevia leaves help to nourish and balance the pancreas (which produces insulin). Contact your physician for further information before beginning to use it.

Stevia is also claimed to help reduce tooth decay. That's because it is a sugar substitute.


More Information:

How to Dry Herbs

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