Stevia is a green herb commonly used as an alternative to table sugar. The plant's leaves are naturally sweet, but sugar-free. Stevia is considered to be healthier than commercially available chemical sweeteners. The plant is native to South America, where it often grows wild. In the rest of the world, the plant can be grown in home gardens.
Purchase stevia seedlings from a reputable dealer. Look for stevia seedlings with the botanical name Stevia rebaudiana. Stevia seeds are difficult to start, and home gardeners who are not familiar with the plant should use seedlings instead. Look for plants that appear strong and healthy. Avoid plants with yellow or spotted leaves.
Prepare the ground for a stevia patch in your garden. Space rows 20 to 24 inches apart, with 18 inches between each plant. If you're planting just one plant, make sure that it has 18 to 24 inches of empty space around it on all sides. The plant grows to a height of 30 inches, with a width of 18 to 24 inches, and needs ample space to grow.
Mix compost and gardening sand into your garden soil. Stevia prefers soil that does not stay too wet. Mixing these components into your soil helps achieve well-draining soil.
Plant stevia seedlings so the entire rootball is below the surface of the soil. Mound the soil around the base of the plant, so that excess water drains away. Pile mulch around the base of the plant.
Water regularly, when the soil feels on the dry side of moist. Do not over water. Stevia's root system rots with excess water. Check the soil daily for the first two weeks, to get an idea of how many days should pass between waterings. Check for two weeks each time the weather changes drastically (from spring to summer, and from summer to winter).