How to Grow Sugar Stevia

Overview

Sugar stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is an herb native to South America that is gaining popularity as a natural, calorie-free sweetener. It is a tropical plant that is grown as a perennial in warm climates. In locations where winter temperatures drop below 32 degrees F, it is grown as an annual. Sugar stevia can be started from seed, but it is best to purchase young plants because stevioside levels, which are the chemicals that cause the plant to have a sweet flavor, cannot be anticipated when growing the plant from seed.

Step 1

Loosen the soil in the chosen planting location to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Add a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic compost and mix with the loosened soil.

Step 2

Dig a hole that is a bit larger and the same depth as the stevia's growing container. Place the roots into the hole and replace the loosened soil. Use a garden hoe to create a mound of soil around each plant.

Step 3

Water until the soil is very moist, but not wet. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the sugar stevia plant at the time of planting. Add an additional 3 inches of mulch in early summer to keep the roots from drying out. Water whenever the top layer of soil feels dry.

Step 4

Fertilize with a 10-10-12 foliar fertilizer, which is fertilizer that is applied directly to the foliage, 30 days after planting. Apply the same treatment again 60 days after planting.

Step 5

Pinch the stems back once during the plant's first month of growth. This will cause fuller growth and an abundance of side branches.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not overwater sugar stevia, as this could quickly lead to root rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden fork
  • Organic compost
  • Garden spade
  • 10-10-12 foliar fertilizer

References

  • Purdue University: Seed Germination in Stevia Rebaudiana
  • Stevia.com: Growing Your Own Stevia
  • Stevia.net: Tips on Growing Stevia
Keywords: growing herbs, plant sugar stevia, stevia care, natural sweetener, sugar free sweetener

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.