When the Stevia plants first arrive water them thoroughly to settle the soil. Keep in partial shade for a day or two then plant in full sun. We find that Stevia will grow in almost any climate, if it is given the correct soil, fertilizer, and light conditions. Stevia is not frost hardy and must be planted each year. In areas where there is no frost, Stevia is still replanted each year, due to the poor growth of the 2nd year root system.
Stevia should be planted in the spring after the soil temperature reaches 65 deg F. Plant in full sun and in a light, sandy, open, well drained soil with neutral pH. Use a standard garden fertilized. Do not use a lawn fertilizer or fertilizers with high nitrogen. Adding extra Boron will help keep the Stevioside level high.
Stevia should be harvested in the fall. The leaves contain about 12% Stevioside (one of the sweet factors). The old brown Stevia leaves will contain 8 to 10% Stevioside. The stems contain about 3% Stevioside. Our Stevia Sweet Recipes Cook Book has many recipes that use Stevia leaf powder.
In the Fall just as the plant is starting to bloom you cut the plant off at ground level (the sweet factor is the highest just before flowering). The plant should be harvested early in the morning and dried in the full sun. The whole plant should be dried first then the leaves pulled from the stems. Hang the plant upside down or lay on a plastic window screen in full sun until completely dry. Strip the leaves off the stems. Discard the stems. When crispy dry, store in a plastic bag until ready to use. Leaves harvested this way in the fall will be 2 to 3 times sweeter than leaves from the same plant harvested in the summer. Break the leaf with your hands or put them a blender to make powder. Please email or phone if you have additional questions. The best place to buy Stevia plants is at www.stevia-plant.com .