STEVIA rebaudiana

Stevia, Sweeter than Sugar –

0038 While Europeans and North Americans focused their needs for sweetness in honey and sugarcane, native peoples in South America were adding stevia leaves to the beverage mate for centuries. Also called sweet-herb-of-Paraguay, sweetleaf and candyleaf, stevia’s foliage is filled with glycosides that lack calories and are up to 30 times sweeter than cane sugar. This frost-tender evergreen subshrub is native from the American Southwest to Paraguay. However, it is grown in gardens as a tender herbaceous perennial that is killed by severe winter cold.

Stevia leaves are medium to dark green and are long and tongue-like. The leaf margins are mildly jagged or scalloped. In mid- to late summer, the leaf-lined stems elongate to produce airy clusters of tiny white blossoms, each with five petal lobes. Insects are pollinators and lead to seed production.

Grow stevia in full to partial sun in a moist, well-drained soil that’s fertile. It tolerates neither soggy ground or drought. Easily grown from seed or from rooted cuttings, hot temperatures increase the plant growth rate and the intensity of sugar produced in leaves. Consider trimming off the flower stems to encourage continual rejuvenation of leaves. Although killed back by frost, stevia will act like a herbaceous perennial in USDA zones 8 and 9. Grow it in the annual herb garden or in a container, which allows you to overwinter it indoors and harvest leaves year round. In tropical regions, cut the plant back hard twice annual to produce bushier plants with increased foliage. Use either fresh green leaves or dry, pulverized or “”powdered”” leaves to sweeten drinks, salads and other foods.

Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item. 

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Stevia, Sweeter than Sugar

Annual – Edible
6
Summer
White
Green, Dark Green
Yes


Yes


Yes
24″

Harvesting Tips
Stevia foliage can be harvested at any time, but it is the most flavorful in the late summer and early fall. The foliage can be used fresh or dried to flavor beverages or to sweeten meat or vegetable dishes. The amount of sweetness varies from plant to plant, so you might want to grow several if you have the space.

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