|Difficulty||Light||EC Range||pH Range:||Time to Harvest|
|intermediate||12-16hours||0.8.-1.6||6.0 - 6.5||~2 months|
Nutrient and Health Info - 200 -300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia is an excellent sugar replacement.
Tips & Tricks - 50% of seeds don't germinate, so plant lots of seeds. Pruning encourages branching, which yields more leaves. Remove any flowers in favor of developing the leaves. The sweetness is only in the leaves. Dried leaves are sweeter than fresh, however fresh can be eaten or brewed in with hot tea/coffee. Stevia has the greatest degree of sweetness when you harvest it just before or as the plant begins to blossom.
Stevia, also called ‘sweet leaf’ or ‘candy leaf’, is native to Paraguay. It’s made quite the impact in the USA and elsewhere, where compounds from its sweet-tasting leaves are made into sugar substitutes touted as being healthier for you. Stevia is estimated to be 30 times sweeter in its raw leaf form and 250-300 times sweeter than sugar when purified, so a little will go a very long way. Keep in mind that Stevia isn't for everyone. Some say the aftertaste is too bitter for them. But, if you're interested in a sugar substitute, it may be worth a try.
Also, keep in mind that there are some debates about the health of raw Stevia. The FDA has stated that refined Stevia extracts are safe but has not commented on non-refined Stevia. Of course, there is less reason for the FDA to comment on an unrefined plant, like Stevia. Too much Stevia could may gas, nausea and inflammation in the kidney and liver.
While the plant itself is not calorie-free, the sweet sugar-like compounds that add flavor are calorie free, and . According to the National Institute of Health, Stevia also will not contribute to increased glucose and insulin levels, and is recommended for management of type 2 diabetes. Using Stevia rather than sugar can also be a good preventative measure against diabetes.
Stevia is an herb and will grow small white flowers. But like most of our foods, this sugar substitute will taste best when you prevent the plant from flowering. After germinating, which can be difficult, Stevia will grow wonderfully in your hydroponic garden and requires little care.
Do be aware that Stevia can take 2 or more months to mature and start to reach it’s peak flavor. So, be patient if you want to have your own, homegrown fresh sugar substitute for coffee, tea, oatmeal, cereal and more.
Stevia can be difficult to germinate, so plant 3 seeds in each of your growing media to get started. You may want to consider germinating your seeds with our Seedling Starter Kit or a Tupperware bowl covered with plastic wrap for the DIYers out there. This will result in a higher rate of success for difficult to germinate seeds like Stevia.
Provide Stevia with 14-16 hours of artificial light for fastest growth. Your plants need time to rest/sleep as well, so please give them the 8 hours they need.
Stevia will grow well with other leafy greens and herbs like lettuce and basil, which prefer EC ranges of 10.-1.6. Stevia may continue to grow well at higher EC levels, but will be more likely to lose its traditional flavor. At higher EC levels, it will also be more likely to flower, which also results in a less optimal and traditional taste. Our Green Machine nutrients are ideal for Stevia.
Keep your pH between 5.8-6.8 for optimal growth.
Time To Harvest:
Stevia needs to mature before it will deliver the sweetness you’re looking for in a sugar substitute. So, you’ll have to give Stevia longer to mature than most of your herbs and even fruits and vegetables. Plan on it requiring 2 or months for your Stevia plant to reach the right sweetness profile.
When harvesting, use the cut and come again method like you would for basil or other herbs. It will grow prolifically, and you can grind it into a powder or stick it directly into your coffee or tea drink.
Stevia is a wonderful sugar substitute for anyone concerned about unwanted extra calories, or those trying to regulate their blood glucose levels. While Stevia can be difficult to germinate and takes a long time to reach maturity, it will eventually provide you and your family with a sweet, healthy sugar substitute. That makes Stevia one more wonderful thing to grow in your indoor garden!
Check Out Our Stevia Recipes!
Let's grow together!