Consumers have come to recognize Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) as a natural sugar substitute. As consumers try to cut back on sugar and artificial sweeteners, stevia is gaining popularity as a low-calorie, healthful natural sweetener for beverages and foods.
Those who wish to be even more conscientious about their health are growing their own stevia plants, providing them access to a locally produced, less processed sweetener.
Because stevia is a fragile perennial herb, it cannot be grown outdoors in cold or snowy locations. Many individuals choose to cultivate stevia inside so they can have a year-round supply. Although they can be produced from seed, stem cuttings or air-layering are the best ways to reproduce the plants. They require at least 8 hours of sunlight every day, temperatures above 70°F, and regular harvesting to thrive.
Supplies Needed for Growing Stevia Plant at Home
It’s simple to start cultivating stevia plants inside with just a few basic ingredients.
Containers: You can cultivate stevia plants in clay or plastic pots, depending on your particular preference and style. Make sure the container is strong and has drainage holes in the bottom so that excess water may easily drain. Growing a single plant in a 12-inch pot is sufficient.
Growing Media: Fill your containers with either commercial potting mix or coconut coir as a growing medium. Both are ideal substrates since they are light and can store a lot of water. Potting soils are made up of peat moss or coconut coir, pine bark, vermiculite, and perlite rather than actual soil. Coconut coir is made from the brown and white fibers found between a coconut seed’s shell and outer coating.
Plants: Stevia can be grown from seeds, as well as by plant cuttings and layering. Some gardeners find it difficult to germinate stevia seeds and instead prefer to propagate fresh plants or purchase starter plants from a local garden center.
Instruction to Grow Stevia Plant at Home
Stevia can be grown from seed, stem cuttings, or layering to make new plant clones. All of the ways are straightforward, but because seed germination rates are low and uncertain in this scenario, it’s recommended to employ propagation methods. If you’re starting from scratch, additional grow lights are recommended to ensure that your plants get enough light.
Grow Stevia Plant at Home via Stem Cuttings: Step by Step
To start plants from stem cuttings, follow these steps:
- Remove the leaves from the lowest 2-inches of the cutting and cut a 4-inch length of stem from the plant.
- Dip the newly cut end of the stem in rooting hormone, either liquid or powdered.
- Place the cutting in damp sand, perlite, or vermiculite with caution.
- Transplant the clipping to a container with potting soil after 3 or 4 weeks.
Grow Stevia Plant at Home via Air Layering
If you have access to a mature stevia plant, air-layering can be used to generate a new plantlet:
- Bend a long stem or branch from a mature plant gently down into the potting soil, being careful not to snap it off the plant.
- Using wire or small metal stakes, secure the stem’s centre to the top of the growing medium. Allow the top 3 to 4 inches of the plant to continue to grow.
- Cut the stem from the main plant and transplant it into a separate container once roots sprout from the nodes touching the potting soil.
Grow Stevia Plant at Home via Seed: Step by Step
Following the fundamental planting procedures, planting stevia from seeds is simple.
- Fill pots to approximately an inch below the top with your selected growing material that has been slightly dampened.
- Seeds should be sown around 14” deep, and the growing substrate should be carefully covered over them.
- Place the container(s) in an area where the temperature is above 70°F.
- Maintain a constant moisture level in the soil without allowing it to get soggy. Because of the excess water in the pore spaces, saturated soils are oxygen poor.
- Thin seedlings when they reach 2 to 3 inches tall, maintaining just the best-looking plants in each pot.
Growing Conditions for Stevia Plant
Stevia plants are native to Brazil and Paraguay, and they can only be grown outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 9 and warmer. If they are shielded from the chilling effects of below-freezing temperatures and frost, they can overwinter in zone 8. Because of their preference for subtropical and tropical conditions, they are an ideal choice for growing indoors in colder areas where temperatures are much higher and more carefully managed.
Furthermore, cultivating stevia in your herb garden indoors allows you to extend the growth season and gather leaves whenever you need them.
Sunlight requirement for stevia Plant
Stevia plants thrive in full-sun situations with at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunshine per day when cultivated outside. When cultivated as a houseplant indoors, they require at least 6 hours of daylight from a south or west-facing window, but they thrive when exposed to the sun for at least 8 to 10 hours.
Because south-facing windows receive the most light throughout the day and give the most sunlight in homes, they are the best choice for indoor plants. Although westward-facing windows receive sunlight for a long time during the day, they frequently receive afternoon shade when the sun is at its hottest and most powerful. This makes them an excellent alternative for plants that are prone to sunburn.
If you don’t have a bright, sunny home, you should invest in a growth light for your indoor plants, as they are likely not getting enough direct sunlight. This extra light prevents plants from becoming tall and lanky, as well as assisting photosynthesis in the leaves, which is the process by which plants convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar for nourishment.
Temperature for growing stevia plant
Stevia, which has its origins in South America, thrives best in rooms with temperatures over 70°F. Don’t let the temperature dip below 50°F at night, and don’t let it rise above 85°F during the day. Plant development slows or stops totally at each of these extremes due to internal stress in the plant tissues.
Tips for Growing Stevia Plant at Home
Overall, stevia is a low-maintenance plant that doesn’t require much more than providing its fundamental needs.
- Before watering, allow the top inch of growing media to dry off. Stevia does not tolerate damp growing material.
- Instead of watering plants from above, water the soil directly. Water does not get on the leaves as a result of this.
- To reduce insect and disease concerns, maintain good air circulation through the plant’s midsection.
- As soon as flower buds form, pinch them off. Remove the gorgeous white flowers from your plant and wait a few days to harvest the leaves.
- Give plants a modest dosage of low nitrogen fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks. Too much nitrogen fosters the growth of big, flavorless leaves.
- To encourage new growth and bigger, bushier plants, harvest regularly or pinch back the tips of the plant’s stems.
- Every couple of years, use established plants to propagate new plantlets. A well-cared-for stevia plant can live for 3 to 5 years, although after the first growth season, the sweetness decreases.
You can grow own stevia at home. Above we have mentioned the excellent method to ensure that you always have a natural, locally produced, minimally processed sweetener on hand. Stevia plants, like other herbs, prefer the light and warm temperatures, and require very little fertilizer. Harvest leaves on a regular basis once the plant has reached maturity to keep it bushy and lush.