Growing Stevia Plants In Winter: Can Stevia Be Grown?
Stevia plants are native to South America. They have been cultivated for centuries and their medicinal properties have been known since ancient times. Today they are used in many countries around the world including the United States where it is one of the most popular sweeteners. There are several types of stevia plants grown commercially, but only two species (Senna sativa L. and Stachys officinalis L.) are widely available in the U.S.: S. officinalis var. sinense and S. sativa var. vulgaris (the latter being commonly called “sweet potato”). Both species contain stevioside, which is the active ingredient responsible for their medicinal benefits; however, there are significant differences between them in terms of taste, texture, appearance and other characteristics.
The main difference between these two species is the amount of stevioside present in each plant. For example, S. sativa contains up to 50% stevioside while S.
vulgaris contains no stevioside at all! Other differences include leaf shape, flower color and size, and even genetic makeup among different varieties of the same species. These variations make it difficult or impossible to produce a standardized product that meets the needs of every consumer worldwide.
The best stevia plants for home gardeners are usually the semi-woody perennials (meaning they live for more than two years) that grow quickly and have an upright or sprawling growth pattern. That is why, among other reasons, sweet potato vines are popular with home gardeners as they cover a good portion of ground with their tendrils, are relatively fast growing, and develop large leaves in a short period of time. However, S.
sativa L. is probably the best stevia plant for home gardeners as it has a high concentration of stevioside (up to 50%), although this species is slower-growing, has a creeping growth pattern and flowers infrequently (if at all).
How To Care For A Stevia Plant — The Best And Worst Conditions
Stevia plants need very little in terms of care. They can tolerate a wide range of soil types as long as they have good drainage and the soil isn’t extremely acidic (they prefer neutral or slightly alkaline soil). They also prefer their roots to be on the moist side, but will tolerate dry periods quite well.
They grow best in full sun to partial shade with some varieties doing better in either condition. They can even tolerate very hot or cold weather conditions, making them quite suited to different types of climates.
Stevia plants like fresh, airy soil that is high in organic matter.
Sources & references used in this article:
Rebaudi’s stevia: natural noncaloric sweeteners by C Shock – California Agriculture, 1982 – calag.ucanr.edu
Stevia: The herbal sugar of 21st century by SD Singh, GP Rao – Sugar tech, 2005 – Springer
Winter Hardiness and Spring Regrowth of Four Varieties of Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) in Eastern North Carolina by C Coggin, GE Welbaum, M Balota, W Thomason – 2020 – vtechworks.lib.vt.edu
Dynamics of yield components and stevioside production in Stevia rebaudiana grown under different planting times, plant stands and harvest regime by M Serfaty, M Ibdah, R Fischer, D Chaimovitsh… – Industrial crops and …, 2013 – Elsevier
Cultivation of stevia [Stevia rebaudiana (Bert.) Bertoni]: A comprehensive review by K Ramesh, V Singh, NW Megeji – Advances in Agronomy, 2006 – Elsevier
Agronomic-productive characteristics of two genotype of Stevia rebaudiana in central Italy by L Andolfi, M Macchia, L Ceccarini – Italian Journal of Agronomy, 2006 – researchgate.net
Production potential of Stevia rebaudiana (Bert.) Bertoni. under intercropping systems by K Ramesh, V Singh, PS Ahuja – Archives of Agronomy and Soil …, 2007 – Taylor & Francis
In vitro clonal propagation and biochemical analysis of field established Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni by M Rafiq, MU Dahot, SM Mangrio, HA Naqvi, IA Qarshi – Pak. J. Bot, 2007 – academia.edu