Stevia….A Sweet Tale…

Stevia-the Sweet Herb~

Stevia’s history in the US began in the early 1900’s, when it was offered as an alternative to “white sugar” by those who were aware of the negatives from sugar over-use…the political power, such as we still see as a common thread throughout our food/health journey…quickly shut it down, FDA slapped a drug label on it and removed it from the option list.
Fast forward a few decades and another political weight decided it was useful as a sugar alternative…enter FDA/Coke/…get the full info here from a source I totally trust.
(Back to the garden…)
 Stevia is considered easy to grow but it does have some basic requirements.

No doubt you have been keeping up with all the latest concerning Stevia. If not check out the Organic Consumers site and get the updates. Interesting to say the least. Exciting to say more~

Stevia rebaudiana is one of about 154 members of the genus Stevia. A member of the Sunflower family, stevia is a small herbaceous subtropical perennial shrub that grows to 2 maybe 3 feet tall.

Stevia supposedly grows best in cooler climates but for some strange reason it has done well for me in middle, southern Tennessee. During the growing season it supposedly thrives best at between 60 and 85 degrees.
Here in our part of Tennessee, we range more in the 90’s during the average growing season.

It grows as a perennial in frost free zones but otherwise can be grown as an annual.

Stevia rebaudiana is the only member of the genus containing the sweet compounds.

When you are planning to try your luck at growing Stevia, look for plants that have been grown from cuttings with a high stevioside content.
Cuttings are more reliable than seeds, so I read…but, I had beautiful plants this last year from seeds that self sowed.

I have concluded it is like most herbs…will thrive under most any and all conditions if it has good soil, lots of sun, and a wee bit of care.

Plant outside in early spring after all danger of frost has passed. It is very tender to hard frost and it’s also very brittle to the touch…so take care when working around your plants.

Sandy Loam soil with plenty of organic matter is great.
A layer of mulch works after the soil heats up and stays hot.
And I would certainly advise growing it in a raised bed…but then I grow everything in raised beds…just makes life for the plants and for me much better!

Stevia requires a consistently moist soil…but not waterlogged.
I use a manure fertilizer worked into the soil before planting.

Above all else avoid high-nitrogen chemical fertilizers, they produce large leaves and no flavor.

Sweet growing and enjoy~

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