Very Sweet Sugar Substitute
Stevia Plants are becoming so popular because...
• you can use the leaves as a sweetener
• they grow anywhere as a patio plant
• they're pretty easy to grow and require little maintenance
Pretty white flowers in the summer are complemented with deep green foliage that is ready for harvest in the fall.
Use as a Natural Sweetener
Stevia is an herb, one that is often used as a replacement for sugar. While the leaves themselves look pretty as a decoration when placed whole in a glass or cup, the real benefit comes when you grind them. To use it, simply pick the leaves and let the dry out. Once they're dry, you'll be able to grind them up and mix them in with your favorite tea or coffee. It's best to use less, though, as Stevia is purported to be about 30 times sweeter than typical table sugar.
Grow it Inside or Out
Like most herbs, the Stevia plant fares well both indoors and out. Indoors, you'll keep it in a potting plant, making sure it has full exposure to sunlight. You can do this by either setting it in a well-lit window or by placing it outside during daytime hours. Outdoors, it makes a great addition to raised beds or gardens, requiring plenty of water.
Avoid the Cold
The Stevia plant is susceptible to frost, so you'll want to bring it indoors in the winter months. If this isn't possible, a thick layer of mulch may help stave off the cold just enough to encourage growth next season. For this reason, it grows best in milder climates.
The good thing about a Stevia plant is that it's a perennial, so unless the one you plant dies, you can expect it to come back year after year. Often, the first crop is the smallest with subsequent crops producing more leaves and flowers. Once it starts, it is a fast grower so before you know it, you'll have more Stevia on your hands than you imagined.