Gardening

Stevia, how to grow it in pots

Would you like to know how to grow your own Stevia rebaudiana plants in pots?

It is worth planting stevia at home because we can use it to replace refined sugar and artificial sweeteners when preparing sweet recipes and also to take advantage of the beneficial medicinal properties of stevia . The stevia or stevia rebaudiana is one particular of the Paraguay plant native to South America where the Guarani Indians already knew its benefits and how to use it.

How to grow stevia in pots

Stevia seeds

One way to start growing stevia is by sowing the seeds. First, seedlings are going to be prepared and when the seedlings are about 15 cm high we are going to transplant them, taking care not to damage the roots to the pots. In the right conditions (with 20 ºC), in about 5 days we can see the stevia seeds germinate. Protected sowing begins at the end of winter.

Reproduction of stevia by cuttings

In spring we can reproduce the stevia plant through cuttings. This way of multiplying plants is faster than by seeds and may be the best option for beginners. To do this, we must take a branch without flowers at the end of it and make the cutting as well . To promote the rooting of the cutting, follow these steps .

Planting the stevia

Once the seedlings have grown enough or when the cuttings have already rooted, we proceed to plant the stevia in the pots. To do this, we fill the pots by placing 3 or 4 medium stones at the base to promote drainage and then fill the pots with a mixture of 2 parts of worm humus per 4 of earth. Water the pots generously. Then we place the pots in a place sheltered from the wind and in the shade, where they do not receive direct sun. We will keep them that way for the first month.

Substratum

The stevia plant needs a spongy substrate that is not caked and has great drainage capacity to prevent water from accumulating on the roots and rotting them. The pH in which stevia can grow is between 4 and 7. For the substrate we can use a mixture of worm castings and soil. Ideally, the pot or container where you grow your stevia should be no less than 12 inches deep. Vermicompost can be applied each spring when the plant sprouts again.

Irrigation

When we transplant the seedlings we will water once a day during the first week. Later we will space out the irrigations little by little but always making sure that the earth maintains a certain degree of humidity. In the hottest months we will have to water more and in the winter months we will see that, as the plant stops its growth (although in the following spring it sprouts again), we will greatly reduce the waterings both in quantity and frequency. .

Light

During the first month after transplantation we will have the stevia plants in a shady place, but after this first month we will be able to move them to an area where it receives direct sun. But be careful, if temperatures exceed 40 ºC it is better to put them in semi-shade or protect the plants from direct sun during the central hours of the day.

Temperature

This plant is native to tropical areas, that is why it develops especially well in conditions of high humidity and with optimal temperatures between 16 and 26 ºC. During winter or colder months, it is best to place the plants in areas protected from low temperatures in greenhouses or indoors.

Pests

Stevia can suffer from the whitefly or aphid infestation. You can see how to prevent and combat them in an ecological way here

Stevia pruning

When fall is ending it is a good time to prune the stevia plant. You will see that it has many flowers. We will carefully cut the twigs leaving the plant with a height of about 15 cm. We put the cut branches to dry.

Dry the stevia leaves

To dry the stevia leaves and be able to use them throughout the year, we only need to carefully cut the branch and place them in a dark and well aerated area (but without drafts). We can hang them or simply leave them on paper. Once completely dry we can store them in glass jars in a closet to avoid direct light.

 

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