Grow Your Own Stevia Sweetener
Stevia is an all herbal sweetener that can be used in the place of sugar or potentially harmful artificial sweeteners. Stevia is still relatively new on the commercially available market in the U.S. but has been used successfully for many years in the U.K. and by individuals that grow their own herbs.
is actually quite simple and relatively inexpensive. It is native to South America and prefers somewhat tropical climate conditions, where the soil remains moist though not wet. Stevia will grow in almost any type of soil, though it generally prefers a sandy loam and can be found in the wild along the banks of bodies of water. Generally speaking, any well tended, well drained soil condition (i.e. a typical vegetable garden environment) should work quite well. Stevia will grow well in acidic soil conditions, up to neutral, but will nor fare well in soil conditions where the pH exceeds 7.5.
Stevia Herb Seeds
Seeds are rare and somewhat difficult to find, but seedlings can be ordered through the internet or mail order catalogs pretty easily. If you live in an environment where frost is a problem well into the spring planting season, it is advisable to plant your seedlings indoors with the notion to transplant outdoors well after the last freeze of the season. Even though Stevia is considered a perennial, they do not withstand cold well and unless you live in California or Florida, expect to replant every year.
Grow Your Own Stevia Sweetener – Planting Outdoors
When planting outdoors, keep a minimum of 10-12 inches between plants to allow for maximum growth and reduce overcrowding. It is recommended that you pour water into the freshly dug hole before adding the plant, then backfilling and rewatering. It is also advisable to add a thin layer of organic compost or mulch over the freshly planted Stevia in order to keep the soil moist and add nutrients.
As far as tending the growing plants, stevia should be treated much like any other vegetable. Regular watering, fertilizing and mulching are a must. Optimum watering can is achieved by using a trickle method. This ensures that the soil stays moist without wetting the leaves. Approximately one month after planting, organic mulch should be applied approximately 3-6 inches deep over the soil to keep it from drying out.
Stevia can be used fresh off the plant or dried and stored for later use. The best time to harvest stevia is just before flowering, when it is at its sweetest.
Grow Your Own Stevia Sweetener Video
Growing Stevia in Northern California. Sugar Alternative also called Sweet Leaf
John shares his experience growing stevia, harvesting stevia, sowing stevia, collecting the seeds and more.