Stevia are small plants that look a lot like mint. Sold in the United States as a dietary supplement and banned in other countries, this controversial plant is sweeter than sugar with a plethora of medicinal uses as well. Growing stevia requires a little knowhow to keep this plant thriving, but isn't difficult to do. The rewards come in tiny little sweet tasting leaves that are perfect for teas and just about anything else you may want to sweeten naturally.
Sow the seeds shallowly into a pot of regular gardening soil or directly into the garden. Stevia does well in a sandy soil that has a neutral ph. When the plant is 3-4 inches tall you can transplant it into the garden being sure to space the plants 10-12 inches apart. Stevia however does better in pots. Be sure to plant stevia after the last winter frost.
Water the plant regularly to ensure that the soil stays moist, but be careful not to overwater. Ensure that there is proper drainage for your plant. If the plant is outside in the garden it is best to have them in raised beds. For stevia plants in pots, ensure that the pot has holes in the bottom for adequate drainage.
Fertilise the Stevia plants with a regular garden fertiliser by following the directions on the bag or box. Make sure that you do not use a fertiliser with a high nitrogen level, as that can be damaging to stevia plants.
Ensure that your stevia plants are in a location where they can get as much sunshine as possible. Don't worry about weeding around the plants if you have them in the garden as this may accidentally damage these fragile plants, lay a mulch of bark or grass clippings around the plants to help keep weeds down.
Harvest the stevia in the fall or as soon as there are flowers on the plant by cutting the base of the plant with scissors or gardening shears. If you wait until a second flower grows from the plant, the leaves may have already turned bitter so it's best to harvest the entire plant.
Stevia grown in pots and kept indoors in the winter months will survive with very little water as they become dormant in the cold. Stevia plants that are kept outside will not survive the winter and new plants will need to be planted each year. It is easiest to grow stevia from clippings of other plants as the germination rate of stevia seeds is low. Of those that do germinate, there is no guarantee they will be sweet.