Growing a stevia plant

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While heading to my local home improvement I noticed an unusual plant in the herb display and moved closer to investigate.  It turned out to be a Stevia plant which is more well known as the primary ingredient in a new artificial sweetener Truvia.  I immediately grabbed a good looking plant, I have wanted to grow one of these myself but given the high price of the seeds and it is known to have serious germination issues and normally leads to failure.

The stevia plant can grow to a height of about 30 inches and a width of 18 to 24 inches.  They prefer rich, loamy soil and need frequent shallow watering to keep the roots moist but not wet.  Given the requirements growing in containers is a great option (which is my current plan).  Plant in a container about 10-12 inches in diameter and plant with your favorite potting mix.

The plant will normally not require side dressing of fertilizer but if your plant requires it, make sure to use a low nitrogen organic fertilizer since high nitrogen causes reduced leaf sweetness.

Once the plant matures in the fall, dry the leaves by leaving out in the sun for 12 hours or use a home dehydrator and the lowest possible temperature.  The leaves then can be ground with a coffee or spice grinder and made into a fine powder which is called Green Stevia Powder.  You can replace 3-4 teaspoons in place of one cup of sugar.  It retains its sweetness for at least two years in storage in an airtight container.

If desired you can also make some Stevia concentrate liquid which will allow your Green Stevia Powder to stretch a little further.  You can make your own by steeping 1 tablespoon of Green Stevia Powder with 4 cups (1 liter) of hot water for 5 minutes.  This liquid Stevia concentrate will be good for 3 days in the refrigerator and one tablespoon of this liquid is equivalent to 1 cup of sugar.

Sure much less work to buy some of this at the store, but not nearly as much fun…

11 Responses to “Growing a stevia plant”

  1. Red Icculus Says:

    This is a great guide on stevia. With a little patience, the seeds can germinate, although clones readily root.

    I found the raw leaf difficult to use in cooking. Even though my plants were on a low nitrogen diet, the leaf tended to still taste vegetal. Regardless, it’s a great ornamental and easy to grow.


  2. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    I already took a clipping to get a clone. It looked a little sad this morning though hopefully will perk up after some time for adjustment.

    I sampled a couple of the leaves and they tasted pretty good though I know many people get a licorice aftertaste (not getting that yet)


  3. Ragnar Says:

    I found the liquorice taste too distracting for the use in coffee or tea, which I had hoped to use it for. Actually we ended without clues how to use it at all as sweetener 🙁


  4. Red Icculus Says:

    Hey Ragnar,

    Long time, no see buddy!

    The best method I have found is simple water extraction. Boil stevia leaves. Strain leaves out. Put water extract in the fridge. Pour off the water portion from the crud collected in the bottom. Evaporate the water portion. It is super sweet, but a lot of people get diarrhea from it when it is used in cooking. Stevia is a tricky plant to use.


  5. Rob Says:

    I grew a stevia plant last year… but did not know what to do with it. Thanks for the info!


  6. Ragnar Says:

    We might try another run on the stevia then, thanks to red’s suggestion.


  7. Mornig Tea Says:

    Thanks for the info guys:
    I just received a packet of Stevia seeds from Park Seeds on Monday. I have not planted them yet. I think that I will experiment and plant one seed in my raised bed and on one in a small pot in the house to see which seed germinates first. I think that the pack only contained 5 seeds, but I have to check.


  8. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Marning Tea, that was the other part you reminded me of. Reading about low gemination and when purchasing seeds online only getting a couple seeds. Maybe the seed companies are doing extra work to ensure the seeds are not duds. Let us know how your planting goes.


  9. Brenda Says:

    So if I have a gallon jug of stevia brew..which will take me forever to use…can I freeze the stevia in ice cube trays and thaw a cube as needed?..Im all about this natural sweetner!


  10. Crystal Says:

    Brenda … Yes you can freeze the stevia water. If the scraggly lil plants i got survive SoCal summer, I’ll be trying that. I’m tempted to make a little of them, cutting them down now and hoping they will come back in the pot they’re in.


  11. How to make your own Stevia sweetener Says:

    […] You can start a stevia plant by seeds but you can save yourself a lot of pain and just buy one at your local nursery and root […]


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