How to grow stevia at home and use its leaves to take advantage of its strong natural sweetening properties: all the details. This article we wrote with support https://bumpercroptimes.com/.

Stevia is known for its natural sweetening properties, so much so as to be a valid substitute for sugar and especially artificial low-calorie sweeteners. Perhaps not everyone knows that it is a plant that can be easily cultivated, a small perennial bush that has as its main characteristic the marked sensitivity to cold.

Native to South America, stevia is a tropical plant and for this reason it prefers humidity but does not tolerate low temperatures. It belongs to the composite or asteraceous family, can reach half a metre in height and boasts a remarkable growth of the foliage during the spring season, at the end of the winter vegetative rest. In autumn, on the contrary, it is possible to notice the development of small white flowers.

Cultivation

The choice of soil is essential to ensure that the stevia grows as well as possible: it must be not very clayey and sandy, so as to avoid accumulation of water. Stevia should be exposed to the sun, but it survives well even in areas that are not 100% illuminated.

It is advisable to sow the stevia in spring, opting for the pot or the earth, but not before having evaluated the temperature, which must remain around 20-25 degrees: the seeds are placed directly on the ground or in pot, choosing a place exposed to the sun and often nebulizing. In case of sowing in pot, it is better to move the stevia in bigger pots only after the plants have come out. As far as the water supply is concerned, the stevia must be watered regularly, paying, however, attention to the formation of water stagnations.

Care and pruning

Stevia should be pruned about twice a year, choosing as periods the one before and after flowering: the cut should promote the horizontal growth of the plant, which in this way will produce more leaves. It is also advisable to file the shoots when the plant has not yet reached its maximum extension in height, proceeding with clean cuts over the third knot of the stems. This plant is not particularly difficult to care for and cultivate, in fact the only precautions concern exposure and water supply.

Collection and uses

The harvesting of the stevia leaves begins in July and usually continues until late October. The leaves can be used in a variety of ways, either fresh or after they have undergone a drying process. In the latter case, it is sufficient to take the fresh leaves and put them in a paper bag, closed and in the dark, waiting about a couple of weeks. Once dried, the leaves can also be shredded using a blender to obtain a fine powder, which can be stored and then used as a natural sweetener.

With fresh leaves, on the other hand, it is possible both to sweeten herbal teas and hot drinks and to obtain the liquid extract to be used as a sweetener in drops. To prepare it you need about 350 millilitres of water, 300 grams of fresh leaves of stevia and a liter of alcohol at 95 °. Place the leaves to soak in alcohol for a couple of weeks, then filter, add the water and put the mixture over low heat to evaporate the alcohol. The solution must have a consistency similar to that of a syrup.

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