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Useful tips on growing stevia rebaudiana plants yourself

Growing stevia really isn't that hard, you know. Sure, you have to know what you're doing, and the plant needs a lot of pampering, especially in the early stages. But let me show you how to grow stevia in the most efficient way. You can do it if you put your mind to it, and soon you'll be able to enjoy your own sugar free recipes with stevia!

 

In the wild, stevia is a perennial plant. This basically means that it can survive on its own for several years on end (usually 2 to 5). It blooms in summer, and the parts that are above ground wither away in the wintertime. As the seasons cycle, the stevia herb grows back from its roots. 

When cultivated at home though - especially in mild climates - the sweet leaf is more often treated as an annual plant, propagated through the use of stevia seeds or stevia plant cuttings, which is what we'll be focusing on. Growing stevia is like survival of the fittest: focus your efforts on growing several plants at once, as you may experience varying success early on.

Because the percentage of seed germination is low compared to using cuttings from an existing plant, the latter method is usually recommended. 

No matter which process you choose though, there are a number of general guidelines you must take into account. As I mentioned in other sections of this site, home-grown stevia leaves can be up to 40 times sweeter than sugar. growing steviaThe method you use for propagating stevia does not seem to influence the sweetness factor, but there are a lot of factors involved that do influence the sweetness of your stevia herb:
   

  •  The climate you're living in: stevia grows the best in warm and sunny climates, and needs extra attention in mild climates   
  • The amount of light your plant is exposed to: the more sunlight, the sweeter the leaves will be   
  • The type of soil you use to grow and plant your sweet leaf in: use permeable soil (preferably a sandy soil). If you're growing your herb in a pot, make sure it has a hole in the bottom   
  • The amount of water it receives: although it is important to frequently water your stevia plant, don't overdo it. Moisture is perfect, but an excess of water will cause the plant to rot

 

The general rule of thumb, as in growing all plants, should be: the more care and attention you put into it, the better results you will yield!

 

Don't be discouraged if the above-ground parts of your stevia plant seem to have died. Sometimes this just happens, even when you've done everything just right. Don't immediately toss out your green friend when it does die because the roots might still be intact. Stevia is really a miraculous plant. There have been many reports of plants resurrecting from their roots up to a year after the very same plants had seemingly died! So don't give up on it too quickly: just keep watering your sweet leaf, and who knows what might happen!

There are two books I currently recommend if you want to take your skills of growing stevia to the next level: Growing and Using Stevia by Jeffrey Goettemoeller and a more recent and  elaborate work called Growing Stevia for Market by the same author.

Perhaps you were wondering how to make liquid stevia extract yourself? The process is fairly simple and you can have your own stevia extract ready for use in just a day or two! If you have an additional interest in growing herbs for tea, there are plenty of tips on stevia and other herbs on Connie's website! Good luck!




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