Now you can grow your own calorie-free, carbohydrate-free, low-glycemic sweetener at home! Stevia, also called sweetleaf, is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way. Some say the leaves have a slight, pleasant, anise aftertaste. The bushy, 18"-30" tall plants can be grown in 10"-12" diameter containers. Leaves are sweetest just before the plant flowers in late summer to fall. Grown as an annual, although perennial in USDA zones 10 and warmer.
Botanical Name: Stevia rebaudiana
Native: Paraguay and Brazil
Hardiness: Hardiness: Grown as an annual, although perennial in USDA zones 10 and warmer.
Plant Dimensions: 18"–30" tall, 18" wide
Variety Information: An upright leafy plant with brittle stems and elliptical, toothed leaves. Plants produce small, white, tubular flowers in late summer to fall.
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Attributes: Good for Containers
When to Sow Outside: Not recommended.
When to Start Inside: RECOMMENDED. 8 to 10 weeks before your average last frost date. The optimal soil temperature is 70°–75°F.
Days to Emerge: 7–21 days
Seed Depth: ⅛" or barely cover
Seed Spacing: 18"
Row Spacing: 20"–24"
Thinning: Not required
Harvesting: Best flavor (highest stevioside content) is right before the plant flowers. Harvest in the morning after dew has dried. The entire plant can be cut or pick individual leaves or branches at any growth stage. To allow growth to continue, never remove more than ⅓ of the plant at a time. In very mild climates, plant may re-grow after cutting back to 4"–6" above the base.
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