How to grow stevia yourself!
Download Cultivation Manual Stevia Seed to Plant
Sowing the stevia plant
How can you best grow stevia? Use a good sowing substrate, no potting soil, garden soil or compost. This contains too much fertiliser which will burn the delicate roots; the seed will germinate, but after one or two weeks the plants will fall over.
A good sowing substrate is cactus substrate, coco peat or a mixture of peat, perlite or sand and clay. You can sow in anything, but remember that the temperature should not drop below 20 degrees and that the soil does not dry out too quickly (cover with transparent foil or glass, but it should also not become too stuffy, then algae growth or mould will develop and it will be over. A grow box with ventilation holes is fine. Another tip for growing stevia: place it above the radiator at the back of the fridge, where warm air always rises. Stevia seeds are light germinators i.e. the stevia seeds germinate at sufficient (400 Lux shade -1500 Lux half shade) and prolonged (14-16 hours) light.
Sprouting of the stevia plant
Frequently the stevia seed sprout moderately, which makes growing stevia a difficult task. This is because the stevia plant is a self-fertilizer and these seeds have a sprout rate of 10%. The cross-pollinated seeds have a sprout capacity of 80%. Therefore, sow thickly and cover very thinly. Sieve part of the substrate/soil through a sieve with meshes of 1 to 2 millimetres. Sprinkle this fine powder as evenly as possible over the seeds. Moisten the whole gently. Nothing germinates where it is too thick. Better too thin than too thick. When growing stevia, make sure that the soil does not dry out too much (it will colour very lightly and a white powder will form, salts etc.) but the soil should not be too wet either.
After sprouting of the stevia plant
The first stevia plants become visible after about 8 days (at 25°C) to 20 days (19°C), depending on the temperature. Now it is important to keep the temperature constant at 22 degrees, give enough light and water at the bottom. This stage is the most vulnerable moment in the life of the plant. Water from above makes the plant stick to the soil and die. The plant now grows slowly from 1 mm to 3 mm in diameter. It can take one to three weeks before the first real leaves become visible. If everything goes too slow, increase the average temperature by a few degrees and the day length by 1 to 2 hours more light. Make sure that there is no white powder on the edges of the pot and no algae. If you have a greenhouse outside, snails and other scum can cause a lot of damage.
Weaning / repotting stevia plant
Do the roots of the stevia plant come out of the bottom of the pot, or are there two too close together? Then you can carefully transplant them if there are at least 6 leaf pairs on the plant. The first pairs of leaves are very small. The stevia plant grows best in slightly acidic sandy loamy soil but is tolerant to other soil type and pH value. The soil must be constantly moist, but the stevia plant must not be standing in water. The stevia plant likes long-lasting light. Longer days promote leaf growth, shorter days promote flowering.
Stevia plat outside
Transplant young stevia plants outdoors well after the last chance of night frost. A mature stevia plant, standing outside and flowering in the autumn with a height of at least 50 cm, tolerates a few degrees of night frost. After the first night frost, the stevia plant dies above ground. But as long as the root ball does not freeze, the stevia plant will sprout again in spring. So cover the stevia plant well and cover it up in cold winter.
Development stevia plant
For a good development of the stevia plant, it is important that the stevia plant:
- Does not stand in full sunlight because then the plant dries out, the half sun is ideal;
- Does not stand in the wind, the plant is sensitive to that;
- Does not dry out because the plant is water-loving;
- Does not flower, because then the plant dies. So always make sure you trim the plant so that the flowering buds do not develop.
By regularly trimming the stevia plant, the plant develops in width (shrub shape) and less in height. This is important for the stability of the plant.
The leaves of the removed twigs can be cut and dried. Drying can be done in an oven, for example, a few minutes at 80 degrees or on a dish in the sun (this takes a little longer). The result is dried sweet leaves, which can be used in many ways such as:
- Garnished on e.g. yoghurt or ice cream;
- As tea (cooked with tea leaves or stevi leaves only)
- Ground in bread and other dishes.
Interested in growing stevia?