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For some time now, stevia has been very popular for its natural sweetening properties; its leaves contain steviol, a sweetener that does not affect insulin levels and therefore also suitable for diabetics.
Thanks to Stevia it is possible to keep our natural sweetener at home, to be used for sweets, for drinks and for any food we want to make more "sweet". It is enough to dry its leaves in a dry and ventilated place, but not in the sun, and then put them in a blender. And here is our 'sweetener powder' ready to be used instead of sugar! Does the cultivation of stevia require special cultural knowledge?
Stevia is a small plant, easy to grow even in pots, but there are three things that Stevia must never lack: water, a good dose of light and an acceptable temperature. Let's see in detail how to grow stevia in pots or in your own garden.
How to grow stevia in pots, useful information
If we grow stevia in a clayey soil, its leaves will be smaller and less sweet, if instead the soil is friable and well drained, the plant will grow more vigorous and its leaves softer.
- Climate and location
Stevia prefers sunny areas sheltered from strong winds. The classic very bright half shade is perfect in the case of Stevia. Below zero degrees the area part of the Stevia dies, so there are two possibilities: withdraw it indoors in winter or, once all the leaves have been collected, mulch the earth well to protect the roots and wait for it to sprout again in spring.
The sowing of Stevia is done in spring when the temperatures are more constant, but still not too high, since its germination is quite delicate: the temperatures must be between 20 and 25 degrees and the humidity level must be constant
Stevia needs constant watering so when the soil begins to dry, water again, avoiding stagnation of water to prevent the roots from rotting.
- Pruning and harvesting
If we want to have a nice compact bush it is necessary to prune the Stevia from time to time, but more than pruning it is better to 'trim', as we do with basil; in this way we will have new jets and at the same time it will remain lower and contained. At the end of the season, after flowering, we can cut the entire aerial part and hang it to dry upside down in a cool place ... and then here is our beneficial powder!
For more information on stevia and its use, we recommend reading the article "Stevia, the natural sweetener"