How to Grow and Care for the Stevia Rebaudiana Plant
About Stevia Rebuadiana
The stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) has a long history of use as a natural, no calorie sweetener. Stevia is native to the lands of North and South America most notably, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. With a genus of roughly 240 species, the more commonly known S. rebaudiana is one species in a large plant family.
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Growing Conditions for Stevia
Its growing requirements are simple as it is an undemanding plant that is not often attacked by pests or diseases. The leaves, stems, roots and blossoms of the stevia plant can be used as sugar substitutes—though the parts of the leaf between each vein is thought to be superior as a sweetener with little to no aftertaste.
Place stevia in full sun with well-drained soils that contain a lot of organic matter. The key is to keep the soil moist until the plant is well established. Once established, stevia is drought tolerant–though it grows better if given regular, deep waterings.
Fertilize stevia plants with organic foods such as worm castings, tea and coffee grounds, cow and chicken manure and compost teas. Avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers whenever possible. Pinch the growing tips of each branch to promote a bushier habit and more sweet-tasting leaves. Stevia is considered hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11—or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
In areas colder than its safe zone, stevia grows well as a houseplant if placed in a sunny window and turned regularly. Use a well rotted/matured, manure and compost rich soil and feed with an organic fertilizer often. Provide good drainage while keeping the soil moist, not wet.
Purchase Stevia plants and seeds online or at local plant nurseries.
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