Unbelievable! My stevia plant is flowering!
I brought my large stevia plant indoors about a month ago. We have had a very cold, wet Fall in Toronto which does not bode well with the delicate nature of stevia. I have learned over the years that stevia is easy-to-grow but particular. Hailing from a warm Latin American climate, stevia likes it warm and sunny, but not TOO sunny. Outdoors I keep it just underneath the gazebo tent where it gets some shelter from my rooftop’s mega-sun exposure. Indoors I keep it in a window with southern exposure. Another key is to watch the soil moisture. Stevia does not like to dry out entirely but prefers even moisture. However it does not like too much moisture, most especially cold moisture (aka ‘wet feet’). I grow mine in a terra cotta pot that allows for better air circulation around the roots and I wrap the pot with a T-shirt during the winter months to ensure that it stays warm and cozy.
Stevia grows quite tall and large so I prune it back regularly throughout the growing season to encourage a bushy growth habit. I bundle the pruned stems together with a piece of hemp twine and hang to dry in a dry place out of direct sun. Stevia leaves dry quite quickly and are brittle and easy to crumble directly into a cup of tea. Stevia is unbelievably sweet so only a teeny tiny pinch is necessary. Of course you can also use a sliver from a fresh leaf but they are even sweeter. I grind the dried leaves in a coffee grinder set aside especially for grinding herbs (I grind a lot of herbs!) and package in tiny Ziploc baggies with harvest dates labeled. I guarantee that you’ll get more dried stevia from one plant in one growing season than you’ll be able to use. I still have some from several years ago kicking in the back of my cupboard!
[Note: There is more on growing and using stevia as an herbal tea sweetner on page 144 of You Grow Girl.]
For those who are pondering using stevia as an herbal sweetener but have heard some negative press about the plant, I leave you with a few articles to read and consider.