Stevia can be grown in pots at home
Stevia is a natural sweetener with almost zero calories. It is important for people who struggle with excess body weight and for people who are not allowed to use sugar for health reasons. Today, there are many sweets (candies, chocolates, various sweet spreads, soft drinks and chewing gum) on which we read the declaration that they “contain stevia” (and not white sugar). Although most of these products contain a small percentage of stevia and a higher percentage of artificial sweeteners (for example, aspartame), these products are then cheaper for manufacturers. A safer way is to decide that the household grows stevia at home.
Cultivation of stevia at home
Stevia has been known to most of the world since 1960, because it was then first experimentally cultivated for the production of a sweet extract from the leaves. Commercial cultivation started a little later. The indigenous peoples of Brazil and Paraguay have used stevia for centuries as a natural sweetener (because the plant grows there naturally). In the 19th century, stevia arrived in Europe when, in 1899, the botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni first scientifically described the species found in the eastern part of Paraguay.
Stevia leaves do not contain sugar, and the sweet taste is due to glycosides (primarily steviol).
A white powder is obtained if the leaf extracts are processed and purified. Stevia is a natural sweetener 80 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. That is why stevia is used in very small quantities as a sugar substitute. The amount of glycosides (which accumulates in the leaves) varies depending on the land (on which the plant is grown), climatic conditions, cultivation and irrigation systems.
The position for growing stevia should be in full sun or partial shade
Stevia can be grown in pots and in continental climate conditions. Pots with plants during the winter should be brought into bright rooms with a temperature of 5 and 15 degrees C (so not in the house, except in rooms that are not heated). The best location is in rooms with double-glazed windows (where there are no air currents and sudden temperature changes, for example a veranda with glass windows). The plant may remain leafless during the winter and in such areas, but new leaves will appear during the spring. Greenhouses are used in Europe for the production of large quantities of stevia.
6 useful tips for growing stevia at home
- Stevia originates from the mountainous part of Paraguay and Brazil, where it grows on very permeable soils rich in sand. When cultivating stevia, similar soil conditions should be ensured.
- Stevia is sensitive to heavy clay soils that do not allow water well.
- Feel free to plant Stevia in a pot filled with a soil mixture dominated by river sand with added humus (although you would not plant other cultivated plants in such a mixture because it seems poor).
- Stevia will be quite pleasant in a mixture of one third of garden soil and two thirds of sand. It is important that the pot has drainage holes at the bottom. That way, the root will not touch the standing water (which drains into the tray). Place some gravel at the bottom of the pot.
- Stevia seeds have a rather weak germination. That’s why it’s best to get young stevia. Move the stevia to a new and larger pot when it has grown enough.
- Stevia should be regularly watered with water during the summer and very little watered during the winter (just so that the soil in the pot does not dry out). The plant should receive a slow-decomposing fertilizer in the spring, and in the summer it is sufficient to feed it with a fertilizer with a higher potassium content. The first harvest (i.e. harvesting leaves) starts at the beginning of summer and later several times during the summer months.