10 to 11
1.00 to 2.00 feet
1.00 to 2.00 feet
July to August
Full sun to part shade
|Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleaf, is a tender perennial herb native to Paraguay and Brazil. Stevia typically grows with weak and floppy stems to 12-24″ tall and have little ornamental attraction. Instead, they are grown for the sweet tasting leaves. The leaves contain glucoside compounds that are 200-300 times sweeter by weight than cane sugar but have no calories. As such, its potential as a sugar-substitute is huge. Slender oblong leaves (to 1″) have a pronounced midrib. The tubular flowers are white and have no fragrance. Leaves can be harvested for use in teas or even eaten directly off the plant. In addition, the leaves may be dried and saved in jars for future use. Dried leaves are generally sweeter than fresh leaves and may be ground up in a blender into stevia powder.
The stevia plant is winter hardy to USDA Zone 10-11. Plants are best grown in rich, consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun but it does tolerate partial shade. The plant thrives in sandy loam. Consider raised beds as a way to create sharp drainage and avoid over-watering which may encourage the onset of root rot. Root mulch helps retain soil moisture in hot summer climates. Seed can be started indoors in early spring for planting outside after last spring frost date or plants may be grown in pots set out on patios during the growing season. Snip off flower buds as they appear since best quality leaves occur prior to flowering. Harvest leaves in fall. If overwintering, bring pots indoors before first fall frost. Cutting may be taken.
|Information on this page is from Missouri Botanical Gardens,
Dave’s Garden, All things Plants, Texas Superstar or Aggie Horticulture
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