JANUARY
2015

 

 

By
B. Rosie Lerner
 
Purdue Extension
Consumer
Horticulturist

 

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01-15-15

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Stevia in the Windowsill Garden


Stevia plant
Stevia plant

Looking for a fun gardening project for chasing away your winter blues? Why not try growing Stevia in your windowsill garden. It may not be the most ornamental of plants, but hopefully will present a sweet reward for your efforts.

Stevia rebaudiana, also known as sweetleaf and sugarleaf, is a low-growing, tender, perennial herb grown for the high levels of stevioside, which can be 30-300 times sweeter than cane sugar yet has zero calories. The plant originally hails from humid, subtropical regions of South America and is a member of the Aster family.

While Stevia will not overwinter in Indiana's outdoor gardens, it can be grown as an annual outdoors during the frost-free season or indoors in containers. The plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil, so give it as bright a location as you can. Supplemental lighting would be helpful indoors. Keep the plant away from hot and cold drafts.

Like many culinary herbs, flavor will be at its peak just before blooming, but Stevia may not bloom much when grown exclusively indoors. Foliage can be snipped as needed.

Stevia does vary in sweetness and quality of flavor when grown by seed and is known for having a low germination rate. Plants of known quality can be propagated by cuttings for best results, but they may be difficult to find in local garden centers.

Some garden suppliers offer improved cultivars, either by seed or rooted cuttings such as Honey Dip, Sweetie Sixteen or Crazy Sweet. Check your local garden center or retail herb farm for availability of plants.

The Herb Society of American has an excellent article about Stevia.

Indiana Retail Herb Farms

Carolee's Herb Farm
http://www.caroleesherbfarm.com

Stream Cliff Herb Farm
http://www.streamclifffarm.com

Outside Indiana

Johnny's Selected Seed
http://www.johnnyseeds.com

Burpee
http://www.burpee.com

Park Seed
http://parkseed.com

The Cook's Garden
http://www.cooksgarden.com

Well-Sweep Herb Farm
http://www.wellsweep.com

Gurney's Seed & Nursery
http://www.gurneys.com

Nichols Garden Nursery
https://www.nicholsgardennursery.com

 

 

Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox