Information About Growing Stevia

Overview

Stevia is the name of a genus of approximately 240 different species of shrubs and herbs. Stevia is part of the Asteraceae family (sunflower). It is commonly cultivated for its sweet leaves and is used as a natural sweetener and sugar substitute. It originates in tropical and subtropical areas of South America.

Environment

Stevia thrives in subtropical climates. It requires full sun, rich gardening soil, humidity, partial shade, abundant water and high temperatures. It is beneficial to sow stevia seeds during the summer, or at least inside of a warm greenhouse. They should be pressed into the soil lightly, but not completely covered by it (that could result in it not germinating). They require sunlight for germination.

Soil

Stevia works well with well-drained, light-textured soil. Organic matter should be blended into the soil. It's best to keep the soil moist, but not wet. In sunny and hot areas stevia will work well in semi-shade.

Propagation

To propagate stevia, sow seeds in spring. The seedlings must be planted out when there is no chance for frost occurring again. It is best to harvest the leaves right before flowering. Stevia can also be cultivated from cuttings (it is advised to take the cuttings towards the end of winter).

Land

Land should be thoroughly prepared before stevia cultivation begins. It should be first plowed with the use of a disc plow. Plowing must be done between one and two times after the harrowing takes place.

Large-Scale Cultivation

When growing stevia on a large-scale basis, it can be grown in either sandy loam or well-drained soil. The appropriate pH range is between 6.5 and 7.5. Soils with high salinity should be avoided. A good planting density for stevia is about 30,000 plants per acre.

Keywords: stevia growing information, stevia sweetener, stevia sugar substitute

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.