Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a plant that has become well-known for its sweetness. It is now grown commercially and the sweetness is refined and sold as a sugar substitute. Right now, most of the stevia extract comes from China. The good news for gardeners is that it isn’t hard to grow and it will even flourish in a big pot. General stevia information The plant is native to South America. It is a perennial, but isn’t tolerant of bitter cold temperatures. Gardeners in the north are advised to either grow it in pots or dig it up and put it in a pot when the temperatures get very low. The sweetness comes from compounds known as steviol glycosides. The two most important are rebaudioside and stevioside. For a time, stevia was banned in the US because of health concerns, but the FDA lifted the ban in 2008, with Europe following suit three years later. The plant has actually been used by tribal people in South America for well over 1,500 years now. There is a good reason for this. Pure stevioside is 100 to 200 times sweeter than sugar, varying a little depending on growth factors. Using the leaves without refining doesn’t result in this level of sweetness, however they are still sweeter than sugar, even unrefined. Planting stevia Stevia needs rich soil that drains well. It also likes to have plenty of space, so they should be placed a foot and a half away from other plants in all Continue Reading →
Posted in food and plants and tagged container, growing, herb, plant, stevia, sweetness by rextrulove with 10 comments.