|STEVIA rebaudiana - Stevia|
Asteraceae; native to Paraguay.
Germination: Best sown indoors at a temperature of 68-70° with no cover as light aids in germination. Seeds can also be sown outdoors after all chance of frost is past in the spring. Sow when the soil is warm and with barely any cover. Indoors and out, germination will occur in 10-15 days. It is best to start the seeds early indoors, rather than sowing outdoors, as the plants grow their best under a long, hot growing season.
Growth: Transplant when there are at least two sets of true leaves. Plant out after all danger of frost is past. Space plants 18 inches apart and in rows 20-24 inches apart. Site in full sun in a rich, loamy, high organic matter, well-drained soil. It likes to be kept evenly moist: it will not tolerate wet feet, neither will it tolerate drought. Feed with a low nitrogen fertilizer and mulch to keep the shallow root system moist.
Appearance and Use: The bright green leaves of this 30 inch tall by 18-24 inch wide plant are used as a sugar substitute. Harvest the leaves in the fall when the temperatures cool and the days shorten as these changes increase their sweetness. Use them fresh or dried. Keeping in mind that they are very sweet and a little goes a long way, grind them or crush them to release their sweetnessand use them in any way that you would sugar.
*Grown as an annual, but it will overwinter in a frost-free climate.
NASA Seeds in Space
"Vines provide a distinct ornamental touch; while their versatility in size, texture, color and bloom time artfully blends architecture with the landscape," Natural Life, Guide to Landscape Plants-Second Edition.