Table of contents
Stevia Growing is a wonderful way to keep up your supplies of this amazing natural sweetener. This plant is part of the Asteraceae family. So it is native to Paraguay and Brazil, where people have used stevia leaves to sweeten food for hundreds of years.
Stevia Growing: Propagation
Stevia can be propagated from seed or by cutting. Growing stevia from seed can be a little more difficult, therefore you should grow from cuttings if this option is available to you.
1. Collect cuttings from an existing stevia bush. Cuttings approx. 20cm (8in) long are suitable.
2. Plant half your cutting (the ‘cut’ end) 10cm (4in) deep in well draining soil.
3. Mulch around your plants to deter pests and save water.
4. Apply an organic fertiliser (this may be needed during the tropical ‘wet season’) and water regularly (especially during the ‘dry season’).
5. Harvest in the morning when it has the highest sugar content. Use scissors and cut about 2.5cm (1in) from the ground.
Stevia Growing from Seed
Time needed: 3 minutes
How to grow stevia from seed.
- Sow Seeds
Plant during spring when the soil temperature is above 20C (68F). Sow seeds in holes 30cm (12in) apart, dropping 3 seeds into each hole.
- Water and Sun
Water your seeds after planting and water regularly thereafter. Also plant in full sun if possible.
Thin out your seedlings so there is at least 60cm (24in) between each seedling.
Also remember to mulch around your plants to deter pests and save water.
You should harvest before flowering occurs and dry stevia upside down in bunches. Harvest in the morning when it has the highest sugar content. Use scissors and cut about 2.5cm (1in) from the ground.
Stevia Growing in Pots
Indeed there are many benefits to growing Stevia in pots. For those growing in colder areas, it allows them to bring their Stevia inside when it is too cold for the plant.
Here in the tropics, the summer downpours are not agreeable with many herbs. Therefore growing in a container or raised bed that will drain well is a real advantage.
Location and Soil
Stevia should be located in full sun, though partial sun in the afternoon is tolerated. Fertile well draining soil will allow your plant to thrive.
Stevia does not need much fertilising. However, applying liquid fertiliser during the middle of the wet season will give your plants a nice boost.
Stevia does not like dry or soggy soil, so try to keep it just evenly moist, with frequent light watering.
Pests and Diseases
Stevia is fairly pest resistant, but it does suffer aphids, slugs and snails. However, regular application of white oil can help address these pests.
White oil is an effective organic pesticide that you can make at home. However, Neem oil is also a great organic way to keep pests at bay.
Stevia Growing: Plant Benefits
Further, swapping sugar for stevia offers all the health benefits that go with reduced sugar intake. So these include a reduced calorie intake, lower blood sugar levels, and reduced risk of cavities.
Other Tropical Herbs
- Grow Basil at Home
- Garlic Chives
- Thai Chili
- Vietnamese Mint Growing (laksa leaf)