Soil, planting and growing care
The stevia plant needs to have a space of 18 inches. The soil you use for planting it needs to be loose, loamy, and well-drained, since this is exactly what this plant likes. It can reach a height of 1-3 feet, depending on the growing season.
Plant the stevia plant after the frost passes and make sure that you find compost or Bonnie Herb and Vegetable Plant Food. Also, you need to make sure you stick to the instructions given on the label. During the summer, you are recommended to use mulch in order to prevent your stevia from drying out. If your stevia is planted in a pot, be sure that it gets the same plant food and mulch.
Remember that stevia plant does not like soggy soil. It is very important that it has good drainage, or the root will rot. In case that your stevia plant is still wilting even though it has been watered, its roots are most likely rotten, or some insects are causing the problem.
Harvest and storage
The time when the stevia plant blooms is fall, so you can trim off the flowers. This will let the stevia grow new leaves. During fall time, stevia has small white flowers, and it stretches out. This is the time when the good leaves of this plant are not numerous, so you would need to clip off the blooms, so the plant will release more leaves.
The time when the leaves of this plant are the sweetest is autumn. It has the greatest taste before it starts blooming.
Once you pluck the stevia leaves, you can dry them and thus use them for a longer period of time. It is recommended that you cut off the stems and remove the leaves and the tender stems.
The stevia leaves should then be scattered on loosely woven fabric or some other non-metal surface. The adequate drying of the stevia leaves is outside, in the sun.
The process of drying stevia leaves lasts for one day only. Then, before they become dump, they should be collected and stored in a container. You can also use a food dehydrator. The dried stevia leaves should then be crushed with the hand or with a food processor. The aim is to create a powder out of them.
Finally, put the stevia powder or the crushed stevia leaves in airtight containers. You won’t be able to dissolve the stevia powder, but you will surely sweeten your drinks and food thanks to it.