How to Grow Stevia from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow stevia at home? Great! Stevia is a good alternative to conventional sugar and also quite easy to grow.
Before you start with growing stevia, make sure to read this grower’s guide since I show you how to grow stevia from seed to harvest in a step-by-step approach.
I also included some videos of other passionate gardeners to make this stevia grower’s guide even more comprehensive. Without further ado, let it grow! 😉
Stevia Plant Profile
|Size||2 to 3 feet tall, around 1 square foot spread.|
|Climate||Stevia grows best in subtropical climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Stevia needs full sun to grow in the best possible manner, even though you can also grow it in partly shady environments.|
|Soil Requirements||Stevia plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.|
|Country of Origin||Stevia is native to Brazil and Paraguay.|
|Growing Difficulty||Intermediate. While it is not that difficult to grow stevia, you should still read all the tips and tricks in this article so that you can grow your stevia plants in the best possible manner.|
|Perennial?||Yes, stevia plants can grow for several years, even though they are often entirely harvested after the first year.|
|When should you start?||If you want to start indoors: 6 to 8 weeks before you expect the last freeze of spring.|
If you want to start outdoors: at the time you don’t expect spring frost anymore.
|Expected Yield & Harvest||You can expect to harvest between 50 and 200 stevia leaves per plant.|
|What to do with it?||Stevia can be used as a natural sweetener that is many times stronger than sugar if extracted from the leaves in a proper manner.|
When should you start to grow Stevia?
The best time to grow stevia is in early spring between 6 and 8 weeks before you expect the last freeze of the season. In most moderate climatic zones, this will be between March and April.
It also depends on whether you want to grow stevia seedlings indoors and transplant them outdoors later or if you want to directly want to grow stevia outdoors.
If you want to plant your stevia seeds directly outdoors, you should wait until you do no longer expect spring frost anymore.
However, I prefer growing stevia seedlings indoors and transplanting them outdoors later on since they will simply have a higher chance to survive due to better protection indoors.
How long does it take to grow Stevia from Seed to Harvest?
It will take between 60 and 80 days to grow stevia from seed to harvest. Of course, if you want to buy seedlings, it will take you much shorter.
The overall time you need to grow stevia also depends on the climatic zone you live in as well as on your skill level in gardening.
For instance, if you are an experienced gardener, you will have a much easier time growing stevia compared to someone who just starts out as a complete beginner.
Hence, especially if you are new to growing stevia, don’t worry if it takes you a little bit longer. Just enjoy the growing process instead of just the harvest itself.
What is the best Climate to grow Stevia?
Stevia grows well in moderate to warm climatic conditions. It also grows well in sub-tropical climates.
Consequently, if you live in rather cold climatic zones, you may have a hard time growing stevia.
Of course, you can still try to grow it in cooler climatic zones, yet note that it might take you much longer and your yields tend to be lower as well.
What Temperatures do Stevia like?
The best temperature to grow stevia is between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, stevia also tolerates cooler or warmer temperatures unless those temperatures get too extreme.
For instance, you should not transplant your stevia seeds or seedlings outdoors until you are sure that there will be no frost anymore since stevia doesn’t like freeze at all.
What are the Best Companion Plants for Stevia?
If you want to know what to grow next to your stevia plants, make sure to check out my article regarding stevia companion plants.
What do you need to grow Stevia?
There is some equipment you need to grow stevia in a proper manner which I listed for you in the following:
- Growing bed (to grow your stevia seedlings, only necessary if you don’t grow your stevia directly outside)
- Flower pots (only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your stevia)
- Stevia seeds
- Fertilizer (you can also make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Slug fence
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- Sticks and cord
- Potting soil
- Garden lime (optional)
- Compost (optional)
- Passion and patience for growing stevia 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Stevia?
You can expect to harvest between 50 and 200 leaves from each stevia plant.
However, please note that this greatly depends on various factors and especially if you are still a beginner, I would not expect too much for the first growing year.
Stevia is not easy to grow and if you don’t have any experience with growing stevia, chances are that your first-year yields will be rather limited.
However, don’t be discouraged if this is the case. Always remember that growing your own plants at home is not only about the yield, it’s about loving the process.
For me, the actual yield is not as important as enjoying the growth process of my stevia plants. Hence, just let it grow and see what the end result will look like.
Why should you grow your own Stevia?
There are many reasons why you should grow stevia at home.
While it might not make sense from an effort or even from a financial perspective, there are still some advantages to growing your own stevia in your garden or on your balcony.
Compared to just getting stevia online or from your local shop, it is simply much more fun to grow your own stevia.
In fact, I really love growing plants and it has just become a nice hobby for me.
Growing stevia and other plants doesn’t feel like work for me and I just really enjoy it.
Moreover, growing stevia can also reduce your overall stress level.
Especially if you work in a demanding office job for long hours every day, chances are that you will be quite exhausted and need a break from time to time.
Gardening is great in this regard since it is a completely different experience. In our hectic world, gardening can be a way to slow down your life and to relax.
Additionally, by growing stevia at home, you can also learn about nature and how growing plants actually works.
Especially if you are new to gardening, this can be quite important since many people simply do no longer know how their food is produced.
In turn, many people also don’t value their food too much anymore, which in turn results in significant food waste.
By caring about your own plants, you will soon realize how much work is involved in the growing process and chances are that you will value your stevia and other vegetables and fruits much more after you made this experience.
Finally, by growing stevia at home, you can also make sure that you grow stevia in a completely organic manner.
This can be quite beneficial for your health in the long run since you do no longer have to rely on stevia from conventional agriculture where the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides is quite common.
I hope you can see why growing stevia at home can make quite a lot of sense. If I convinced you that growing your own stevia is indeed a good idea, we can now get into the actual planning process for your stevia growing project.
Growing Stevia: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Stevia
The first important step in the planning process is to select the optimal site for your stevia plants in your garden or on your balcony. I answer various questions for you in this regard in the following.
Does Stevia like Sun or Shade?
Stevia grows best with full sun. However, it also grows in a decent manner in half-shady environments.
Thus, just pick the sunniest spot you can find in your garden or on your balcony for your stevia growing project and you will be good to go.
What are the Soil Requirements of Stevia?
While stevia grows best in environments with a soil pH between 6.5 and 7, it is also quite tolerant to lower or higher soil pH as long as it is not too far off the scale.
Hence, if you use conventional potting soil from your garden center or the soil in your garden, you will be fine most of the time.
You can also add some garden lime if you want to raise the pH of your soil a little bit.
Moreover, also feel free to add some compost or natural fertilizer to the soil mix to make it even richer.
Also make sure that the soil is well-drained so that water can run off and no water puddles occur, which could potentially let the roots of your stevia plants rot.
How much Space do Stevia Plants need?
You should plan around 5 square feet of space for each stevia plant so that your plants get sufficient sunlight and don’t have to compete for nutrients with each other.
Of course, the more space you offer to your plants, the better they will grow and the higher your yields tend to be.
Therefore, in case you have a big garden and space is not a problem for you, feel free to provide your stevia plants with even more space.
Should you plant Stevia in a Pot or in your Garden?
Both options are perfectly fine. However, if you really want to produce significant stevia yields, chances are that you will be better off by just planting stevia in your garden instead of using pots since they will simply have more space and you will also be able to grow a much higher number of plants.
Of course, if you don’t have a garden and still want to grow stevia, you can also do so on your balcony.
In this case, make sure that you use big pots so that your stevia plants get sufficient nutrients and can grow in a decent manner.
2. Plant Stevia Seeds
Now that the planning phase for your stevia growing project has been finished, it is time to get into the actual planting process.
Should you buy Stevia Seeds or Seedlings?
While it is far easier to grow stevia from seedlings than from seed, I still recommend you to grow your own seedlings instead of relying on stevia seedlings from your garden center.
Only if you grow your own seedlings, you will get the full growing experience.
In fact, growing seedlings is the first important step in every growing project and if you skip this step, your stevia growing experience will just not be complete.
Moreover, if you learn how to grow seedlings, you will also be able to transfer this knowledge and to use it for various other growing projects that you might want to do in the future.
Consequently, growing your own stevia seedlings can make quite a lot of sense and it is also not difficult at all.
In fact, I show you how to grow stevia seedlings in detail in the following chapters.
Where can you get Stevia Seeds from?
You can just order your stevia seeds online or buy them from your local garden center.
After you have completed your first stevia growing project, you might even be able to save your own seeds from your stevia flowers.
But for the first year of growing stevia, just get your seeds from a seed vendor and you are good to go.
How to plant Stevia Seeds
You can either start growing stevia inside and transplant your seedlings outdoors later or you can start growing stevia from seed directly outdoors. If you want to start growing stevia from seed outdoors, you can skip this step.
However, I would not recommend you to do so since you have to wait longer until you can finally plant your seeds due to climatic conditions and your seedlings will also be more vulnerable if you raise them directly outdoors.
Consequently, I suggest you just grow your stevia seedlings indoors and transplant them outdoors later.
For that, just fill your growing bed with potting soil from the store and place your stevia seeds on top of the soil layer.
Make sure that you leave at least 4 inches of space between each seed so that your stevia seedlings will have sufficient space to grow in a healthy manner.
Please also note that growing stevia from seed is not that easy and that many seeds will rot instead of turning into seedlings.
Hence, due to the low germination rate, make sure that you plant many more seeds than you want to get seedlings.
I suggest you plant 3 seeds for every stevia seedling you want to get so that you can be pretty sure to reach your goal.
After placing all of your stevia seeds, cover them with an additional soil layer of one inch in height and water your growing bed.
Make sure to place your growing bed in a warm and bright spot inside your home to optimize the germination rate.
Now it is time to wait a little bit before you will see the first results.
How long does it take to see the first Stevia Seedlings?
You will typically see the first seedlings after one to two weeks. However, please note that not all seeds will germinate at the same time and that it can take more than one month until you see the full results in your growing bed.
If you have waited longer than one month and there are still many empty spots in your growing bed, this means that many of your seeds have not germinated.
In such a case, you can plant additional stevia seeds in those empty spots if you want to get more seedlings.
How to protect your Stevia Seedlings indoors
Since your stevia seedlings will stay in your growing bed inside your four walls, they will be protected quite well during this time and there will be no need to add any further protection to your plants.
In fact, you can just leave your stevia seedlings alone without having to worry about any additional protection.
One caveat to this is when you have pets. In such a case, place your growing bed in a spot in your home where your pets will not be able to reach it to avoid any unpleasant surprises 😉.
When should you transplant your Stevia Seedlings?
After a few weeks, your stevia seedlings will get bigger and stronger and at one point in time, they will become too big for your growing bed.
This will be the time when you should consider transplanting your seedlings outdoors.
However, before you do so, make sure that the following criteria are met.
First of all, you should make sure that the climatic conditions are right to transplant your stevia seedlings outdoors.
Right means that there will be no spring frost anymore since your stevia seedlings will be quite sensitive to the cold and may die off if outside temperatures are too low.
Second, also make sure that your stevia plants have a minimum size before transplanting them outside.
The bigger your seedlings are, the better they will be able to deal with the harsh outside conditions and the higher the chance that they will survive.
I suggest you wait with transplanting until your stevia seedlings have reached at least 5 inches in height.
If both criteria are met, you can now prepare your growing site before actually transplanting your stevia outside.
For that, just loosen up the soil of your growing site in your garden so that water can run off and the roots of your stevia plants will not rot.
You can also add some potting soil, compost or natural fertilizer to the soil in your garden to make it richer so that you can provide your stevia plants with even more nutrients.
After you have prepared your growing site, you can now transplant your seedlings outdoors.
Make sure that you leave at least 2 feet of space between each stevia plant so that your plants will not have to compete for sunlight or nutrients with each other.
After transplanting all your seedlings outdoors, just water them and you are good to go.
If you want to grow stevia in pots instead, just fill your pots with some potting soil and place each stevia seedling into one pot. Water your pots and place them in a sunny spot on your balcony.
What kind of Protection do Stevia Seedlings need outdoor?
While your stevia seedlings had been perfectly safe indoors and no additional protection had been needed, this now changes dramatically since slugs and other animals will try to feed on your stevia plants.
Consequently, you should add protective measures if you want to maximize the chances for the survival of your plants.
While you could use chemical substances to deter snails and other animals, those chemicals are often quite harmful to our environment.
Hence, to make your growing experience as green as possible, I advise you to use slug fences instead.
While the concept of slug fences is fairly simple, those fences are still quite effective and do a great job of keeping away many unwanted animals.
Thus, just install slug fences around your plants and your plants will be protected properly.
Make sure that you control those fences on a regular basis and that you adjust them properly in case they don’t work as expected.
3. The Stevia Growth Process
After transplanting and protecting your stevia seedlings, you can now relax a little bit.
In fact, most of the manual work has already been done and the next weeks will not be that demanding anymore.
However, there are still some things to consider for the further growth process that I want to discuss with you in the following.
Should you prune your Stevia?
No, there is no need to prune your stevia plants. In fact, pruning stevia can do much more harm than good.
Since you will harvest the leaves of your stevia plants later on, removing leaves will also lower your overall yields and will also weaken your plants.
Hence, just let it grow and let nature do its work 😉.
Do you have to pollinate your Stevia Plants by Hand?
No, you don’t need to pollinate your stevia plants by hand. Since you will harvest the leaves of your stevia plants instead of crops, it doesn’t matter too much whether your plants get pollinated or not.
Should you stake your Stevia?
Stevia plants grow rather bushy and will not get too big. Thus, there is no urgent need to stake your stevia plants.
However, staking and stabilizing your stevia plants can still help to make them more resistant against winds.
For staking your stevia, just anchor one bamboo stick into the soil next to each plant and tie your plants with cord to those sticks.
It’s fairly simple but yet quite effective to make your plants more resistant against winds and other outside conditions.
4. The Stevia Harvest
Around two to three months after you planted your seeds, your stevia plants will be ready to be harvested.
When should you harvest Stevia?
The best time to harvest your stevia is just before your plants flower. When the time has come, just cut off the stems you want to harvest from your stevia plants.
Removing whole stems from your stevia plants is much easier compared to just harvesting single leaves. It is also more convenient since it makes the drying process much simpler.
How to store your Stevia?
You can just let your stevia stems dry. For that, just form small stevia bundles and hang them top-down for a few days.
After they have dried, just remove the dried leaves from the stems and store your leaves in a box until you want to process them.
What should you do with your Stevia?
You can either grind your stevia leaves into power or make a stevia extract out of your plant material.
Either way, stevia is great to replace sugar on several occasions since it has far fewer calories and is also considered being healthier compared to conventional sugar.
However, be careful that you don’t use too much of it. Stevia is extremely sweet and small amounts of it are enough to sweeten your teas or other things quite a lot.
Stevia Plant Care Tips
Although you have already learned how to grow stevia from sowing to harvest step-by-step, there is still some additional general information I want to share with you in the following so that you can make your stevia growing project even more successful.
How often should you water your Stevia Plants?
Especially in warm climatic zones, stevia plants need quite a lot of water. Hence, you should water your plants on a regular basis.
Of course, this also depends on the overall outside conditions. If you grow stevia in your garden and it currently rains, there will be no need for you to water your plants.
In contrast, in rather dry periods of the year, you will have to water your stevia much more. You can also have a look at the leaves of your stevia plants.
If those leaves begin to hang, this is often a clear indication that your stevia plants need water. You can also use a simple but yet effective trick.
Just dig a small hole with your finger into the soil next to your stevia plants. Pull your finger out again.
If soil sticks to your finger, the soil is still wet enough and there is no need to water your stevia right now.
If no soil sticks to your finger, this means the soil is dry and you should water your plants as soon as possible.
Over time, you will get a pretty good feeling regarding when it is time to water your stevia plants due to your increasing level of experience.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Stevia Plants?
The best time to water stevia plants is arguably in the early morning.
However, I personally haven’t seen any difference between watering my plants in the morning or in the evening. Just make sure that your plants get enough water and you are good to go.
How often should you fertilize your Stevia Plants?
If you have already prepared a healthy soil mix for your stevia plants as mentioned earlier in this article, there will be no need to use additional fertilizer.
In fact, if the soil is rich enough and you provide sufficient space for your stevia plants, they will get sufficient nutrients even without fertilizing them.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Stevia Plants?
If you still want to use additional fertilizer, make sure that you don’t use chemical fertilizer but that you rather rely on organic fertilizer instead.
Organic fertilizers are much eco-friendlier compared to those chemical alternatives and will also be much better for the local flora and fauna.
You can easily order organic fertilizer online or prepare your own natural fertilizer.
In fact, producing your own organic fertilizer is fairly simple.
You just have to go to your local meadow or forest, collect some stinging nettles and put them in a bucket full of water.
Wait for a few days before you remove the plant material.
And here you go! You just made a perfectly natural fertilizer which you can just add to your watering can and use it not only for stevia, but also for a variety of other plants in your garden.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Stevia?
Similar to chemical fertilizer, I am also not a big fan of using chemical pesticides and herbicides.
In fact, there is just no need for it since you can just use your stinging nettle liquid and spray it onto your stevia plants.
You heard right! 😉 Stinging nettle liquid is not only a good fertilizer, it can also help to deter many pests.
Hence, just go for this natural alternative and see how well it works. Also make sure that you don’t use any herbicides.
Just try to remove weeds by hand and you will be just fine.
If you want to learn more about pest control, you should also have a look at how to control stevia plant diseases and pests.
What’s left to say?
First of all, thanks a lot if you made it through this extensive stevia grower’s guide.
I know that my grower’s guide is quite long, yet it had to be that long to give you all the information you need to grow stevia from seed to harvest in the best possible manner.
If you got some value out of it and want to motivate your friends to grow stevia as well, make sure to share my article!
Also feel free to have a look at my growing stevia FAQ section. See you next time! 😉
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.