How-To: Tips on Growing Your Own Stevia

The Allsberry’s Strawberry Park is not just a strawberry patch, but also a beautiful garden full of many wonderful plant and herbs. One such plant that was found here was stevia rebaudiana, which is part of the chrysanthemum family and goes by “stevia”. This plant originates in the rainforest of South and Central America, with leaves that are incredibly sweet. In fact, its leaves are significantly sweeter than refined sugar, it is an all natural sweetener that has no calories or carbohydrates, and it is non-glycemic. It seems like the perfect sweetener!

Finding stevia growing in gardens outside its tropical habitat is unusual, although there are gardens like the Allsberry’s that are able to grow stevia successfully. Usually, the best way to get stevia to grow is with starter plants or seedlings. That’s because the seeds are just too difficult to get growing otherwise. The plant must be planted when the temperature is warmer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit or it will not survive. For some places around the world, there are very short periods of time when the weather is this warm.

You may purchase stevia extract, which has a significantly higher potency than homegrown leaves. Liquid and powder stevia most frequently have an 80 or 90 percent stevioside level while homegrown stevia is much lower at 10-12 percent. When you pick the leaves and where the plant is grown will also affect how sweet it is.

Growing Stevia

If you want to give planting stevia a try then you will need to try it out in a garden with loose soil that has plenty of drainage. Rows should be at least one foot apart and closer to two feet is also acceptable. Leave at least one foot between each row.

The stevia plant’s roots oftentimes move towards the surface, which means it is important to watch how much you are watering this plant so it is not sitting in overly wet soil. Consider adding a low nitrogen fertilizer or compost to the garden, too, so your stevia is as sweet as possible.

Some people have even been successful growing stevia indoors. To do this, you will need a pot with a one foot diameter and plenty of potting soil. When you plant the seedling, cover the potting soil with glass marbles, mulch, or something else that will help keep the stevia plant moist. This is important because the roots will come close to the surface and you need to take care to protect them.

Lastly, when you harvest stevia, it is recommended to do so in the morning and as late in the season as possible. It is important to harvest before temperatures dip too low yet wait long enough for the leaves to get as sweet as they can.

Comments

7 Responses to “How-To: Tips on Growing Your Own Stevia”

  1. Thomas Haggerty on December 8th, 2008 6:08 pm

    Please e-mail all information–particularly on cookies and pastries. We do Farmer’s Markets and this would be ideal

  2. chandu on February 1st, 2009 1:30 pm

    I want more information about stevia plantation and marketing places in nagpur region.

  3. angela on April 4th, 2009 12:00 pm

    I thought the US government was suppose to work for we the people. Why is it then, that the FDA has made it near impossible for stevia to be used as a food additive?
    They approve known cancer causing sweeteners and back the million dollar companies that produce them.
    The US gov no longer works for we the people. They work for the millionairs.
    I advise everyone to grow stevia and all other herbs that the FDA won’t back. In an effort to bring them into the USA and to help people that need them.

  4. tony adams on May 12th, 2009 5:34 pm

    i have one plant, need to know if deer will eat it or should i plant the plant in a pot in a area that i can keep the deer away.

  5. Hope on June 5th, 2009 11:07 pm

    Thanks for info. I’d like a small bit more info on indoor container growing like watering and more details on soil type.

    Also, a comment for Angela even though she probably won’t get it – Stevia is approved by the FDA as a natural supplement. They’re for it not against it. At least, that’s what I read online earlier.

  6. Taryn on April 5th, 2010 5:06 pm

    I (actually) just bought a stevia plant. I was wondering if deer ate stevia… I was planning on leaving it on the front porch, away from my dogs. Thanks!

  7. compost cat on May 9th, 2010 6:51 pm

    I would also like to know; DO DEER EAT STEVIA????

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