Growing Stevia from Seed Posted on 9 Jun 09:49 , 3 comments
Stevia, Stevia rebaudiana, also called sweet leaf, flowering plant in the aster family (Asteraceae), grown for its sweet-tasting leaves. Stevia is native to Paraguay and Brazil, where people have used leaves from the stevia bush to sweeten food for hundreds of years.
If you've seen the "zero calorie sweeteners" in the grocery store then you have probably already heard of Stevia. Spoiler alert: homegrown Stevia is much different than store bought. Most stevia products you’ll find in the grocery store are heavily refined powders.
Stevia can be grown as a houseplant as well as a garden plant, which means you can plant seeds anytime for houseplant use.
Growing Stevia from Seed
Before planting your stevia seeds or transplanting, choose the right spot for your Stevia plant. Stevia does not like to be disturbed once planted.
Stevia seeds should be cold stratified prior to planting.
Stevia can be challenging to grow from seed. Stevia Seeds are tiny and germination can be inconsistent but usually take 10-21 days under optimal conditions.
Sow stevia seeds ¼ inches deep in coconut coir or seed starting medium.
Stevia likes to stay evenly moist, not too dry and not too wet. Make sure the soil drainage is excellent. Stevia likes full sun and does not require fertilizer if planted in fertile soil. If you are unsure, a single watering of diluted liquid fertilizer after transplanting should be enough.
During the first 2 months of the growing season, pinch the tips of the plant every 3 weeks. This will result in a bushier, better-branched plant. If possible, pinch in the early morning.
Harvesting and Preserving Stevia
It is best to harvest Stevia before the plant starts to flower. This can be around 40 days after transplanting. Harvest in the morning, when the plant's sugar content is highest. Hang branches in a cool, dry spot with plenty of ventilation and away from direct sunlight.
Make sure your stevia is completely dry before storing. You can grind or blend the dried leaves to make your own powder or just use them whole.
A general rule of thumb is that 2 tablespoons of stevia powder equals 1 cup of sugar.
For tea: add 1 fresh leaf can be added to sweetener your herbal tea
Stevia Syrup Recipe:
2 cups of warm water
half a cup of dried stevia leaves
Put the mixture in a glass jar and let it steep for 24 hours. Strain the leaves from the mixture.
Cook the strained mixture on low heat, reducing it to a concentrated syrup. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.