Stevia rebaudiana, the Sweet Leaf
. Native to the mountains of Paraguay and Brazil, Stevia is the natural, healthy alternative to cane sugar and artificial sweeteners. Stevia should be started indoors 10 to 12 weeks prior to transplanting outside after the last spring frost date
. The sweet magic is in the 1" to 3" long, narrow, notched leaves. These luscious glycoside-packed leaves may be plucked at anytime, but they are best harvested when the plant is in full bloom with dainty white flowers. Dry tied bunches of whole stems in bundles out of direct sunlight in an area with good air circulation. Once dried, the leaves should be stripped from their stems and stored whole or ground into powder and stored in airtight containers. Since Stevia is so much sweeter than sugar, use it sparingly until you are familiar with it. The general conversion rule is to use 3 to 4 teaspoons of green Stevia powder made from finely ground, dried leaves in place of a whole cup of cane sugar. (To treat as a perennial, leave at least 6" of stem growth.) Tender perennial. Hardiness zones: 9-10, best grown as an annual in colder climates. Height: 24" to 36". (OP).
Average seed life: 1 year.
One packet of about 50 seeds