Although Stevia looks like an average green plant, it is an exciting choice for the herb garden because of the natural, calorie-free sweetness found in its leaves. Appreciated by diabetics and dieters, Stevia requires full sun and well-drained soil. Leaves are sweetest in the cool temperatures of autumn. They also taste best prior to the plant blooming. To preserve and to make Stevia convenient to use, dry it. Cut whole stems and then strip the leaves and tender stem tips. Place these on loosely woven fabric or non-metal screening outdoors on a dry, sunny day. One day should be long enough to dry the leaves; be sure to bring them in before the dew dampens them again. You can also use a food dehydrator if you have one. Once the leaves are crisp, crush them by hand or powder them with a food processor. Store in an airtight container. While the powdered leaves will not dissolve, they are a wonderful way to sweeten your beverages and foods.
Sweet Leaf Stevia's leaves are 30 times sweeter than sugar. Single plant yields up to a 0.5 lb. of dried leaf. All parts of the plant are sweet, but pick the herb's short-stemmed leaves for fresh use. Leaves can be sun-dried, powdered and stored in an airtight container.
Height: 12-20 in.
Days to Maturity: 60
Sun Exposure: Full Sun