|Latin name:||Stevia rebaudiana|
|Guarantee:||1 year growth and flowering guarantee|
|Preferred location:||Sun, Half shadow|
|Leafs all year:||No|
|Harvesting:||June - October|
Stevia seed requires no previous treatment but a six hour soak in lukewarm water will encourage germination.
How to Sow
Sow indoors, March-May.
We recommend only indoor sowing of the Stevia. This can take place in March-May. Use an indoor propagator with small pots filled with good seeding compost. One or two seeds per pot. Stevia needs the light to germinate so do not cover the seeds, just press them lightly down and sprinkle with water. Cover with the lid and stand the propagator in room temperature (20-24 degrees centigrade) in the light.
The stevia seed will germinate within 7-14 days but has a naturally low germination percentage. You will probably loose a few seeds. Never allow the seedlings to dry out and keep the pots as warm as possible. Transplant to the warmest spot in the border once acclimatised (from mid-May).
To acclimatise the little plants, stand them outdoors for one hour longer every day for five days, in the shade. Stevia looks attractive in a nice planter on the patio too. Stand the pot in a sunny spot and keep the soil moist!
Water extra during dry periods. Sweetleaf flowers with white blooms from July - September, when the days get shorter and as long as it's not too cold. The sweetener is... surprise surprise, located in the leaves. Stand your plant in a sunny spot in water retaining soil.
Allow the plant to grow strong before allowing to flower - postpone the flowering by cutting the first flowers off. When big, and healthy, the stem can grow to 80 cm tall in good conditions.
Harvest from May-November
You can harvest sweetleaf from spring until autumn, simply by snipping off leaves and small branches. Leave the heart of the plant untouched and do not take too much from the same plant. As long as new leaves are being produced, you can keep harvesting. Feed your stevia regularly with nitrogen for a strong leaf growth. You should be able to harvest for months on end from the same plant! Older leaves contain more sweeter than the new young leaves.
Sweetleaf (Stevia rebaudiana) is a representative member of the compositae plants, or Asteraceae. Its natural habitat is the marshy ground of the tropical high rain forests of South America. The ancient inhabitants of this region used this plant for many centuries as a sweetener - it is a perennial in tropical climes. In Europe, we grow it mostly as an annual.
Stevia's sweetener is quite unique. Known as steviolglycoside it contains stevioside and rebaudioside A. In its purest form it is 300 times sweeter than sugar. The powder made from the dried leaves is 35 times sweeter than sugar. Best of all, it contains no calories and it perfectly save for our kidneys too (unlike artificial sweeteners that are used in so many things today). The pure type of stevioglyscosides has recently become accepted in Europe and have been given their own E-number: E960.