Stevia is an herbaceous perennial native to Paraguay and Brazil that gained popularity in northern gardens in the early 2000s. It has been used for over 1,500 years by the Guarani people for sweetening medicinal teas and treating various health conditions.
Stevia plants are a robust addition to any garden, thriving even under tough conditions. The plants are compact, reaching a mature height of 1-2 feet, making them perfect for small spaces or container gardening. Despite their size, Stevia plants produce an abundance of sweet leaves that are an incredible natural sugar substitute, boasting a sweetness that is up to 300 times that of sugar.
Stevia is not only known for its sweetness but also for its health benefits. It's a zero-calorie sweetener, making it a popular choice for those watching their sugar intake or managing diabetes. Furthermore, it's renowned for its medicinal properties, including potential blood pressure regulation and antimicrobial effects.
Stevia leaves can be dried and stored for long periods without losing their sweetness, providing a year-round supply from a single growing season. The leaves can be used in a multitude of ways in the kitchen, they can be added fresh to teas or salads, or dried and powdered for baking and cooking.
- Life Cycle: Often grown as an annual, perennial in zones 8-9
- Canada Hardiness Zone: 8-9
- Days to Maturity: 60-100
- Planting Depth: lightly cover with soil
- Plant Spacing: 40-60 cm
- Growth Habit: 30-60 cm tall
Stevia is a flowering plant of the aster family, native to South America where it has been used as a sweetener for centuries. The cute, green herbaceous plant makes a great addition to indoor plant collections and will thrive just as well outside in the garden.
Stevia prefers not to be disturbed once it has established roots, but it can still be started indoors early in the season if handled with care. 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area, prepare 10 cm pots for each stevia plant and fill them with a light seed starting mix. Moisten the medium well and let the excess moisture drain out.
Sow 3 or 4 seeds in each pot and firmly press them into the surface of the growing medium. Cover them ever so lightly with a thin layer of the seed starting mix. They should be protected from the air but still exposed to some light. Mist them well into place.
For the best germination conditions set them on a heating mat on a sunny south-facing windowsill or under grow lights. 20 degree or warmer soil is ideal for sprouting. The pots can then be covered with plastic wrap or a propagation dome to seal in moisture and heat.
Mist the surface of the pots daily to make sure the medium doesn’t dry out. Germination should occur in 10-15 days. When seedlings begin to sprout and develop, thin them down to the single strongest plant. Let them grow in a bright warm area for a couple of months leading up to the last frost date.
After the soil has warmed up in the spring, and the plants have developed substantial mature foliage, stevia can be transplanted outside in a site that receives full sun. Space plants 30-60 cm apart. Stevia doesn’t require much fertilizing but does prefer well-drained soil.
For the first two months of the season, snip out the tips of each plant every few weeks. Make these tiny cuts early in the morning and they will lead to a much bushier plant.
About 40 days after transplanting stevia can be harvested. It’s important to harvest in the morning when the sugar content is highest. Right before the plant begins to flower is the best time to gather the leaves.
Hang the branches in a cool, dry well-ventilated space. Leaves should be completely dry before storing. Grind them down into a powder or use whole. Stevia leaves are a healthy herbal sweetener for any beverage or recipe and can even be cooked down into a sweet syrup!
- Unlike sugar, stevia doesn't contribute to tooth decay, making it a tooth-friendly choice of sweetener. Some studies have even found it can reduce bacterial formation in the mouth, promoting better oral health.
- Stevia plants are known to attract butterflies, making them a great addition to butterfly gardens or any garden where pollinators are desired.
- Stevia seeds will remain viable for 3 years if stored in a cool, dark place, ideally between 4 and 10⁰C. After that, the germination rate may start to go down.
OUR SEED GUARANTEE
You know that a lush, fruitful garden needs good soil, frequent watering, and sunlight to grow, but it’s the seeds that really make the harvest.
Picked and bagged for 2023 the vast majority of our seeds have germination rates of over 85%. The seeds are all-natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, untreated, and open-pollinated for seed saving.
We have put a lot of thoughts into the design and packaging of our seed packets. Our seeds are all carefully packed in food grade kraft paper/aluminium zipper lock bags, and then are shipped in eco-friendly padded mailers.
We heat-seal each of our seed packet for even more protection from moisture, odour and light, allowing you to store your seeds for up to 3x longer than paper or plastic. Plant them all, germinate some indoors, save some for next season - it’s up to you!