As a Mountain Ecologist, Indoor plants at home satisfy my serotonin level controlling my anxiety of being far from my favorite green friends.

After years of the pandemic, ongoing climate alteration, and severe environmental degradation, I realize that some of my indoor plants should look after me as I do to them.

Stevia is one of them, my very own natural sugar alternative free of calories. At first, I purchased it from a specialty store, but its original form was depleted as most products were mixed with other sweeteners, raising the risk of health effects. 

So what can be done if we want it in pure form? Of course, your own indoor Stevia plant. You might have many questions related to how or is this possible. 

Not to worry; this article will answer all your queries about growing this incredibly beneficial plant. Let’s begin with knowing our natural sweetener. 

Overview

Stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) is a herbal shrub native to tropical and subtropical America, whose leaf is generally used for extracting calorie-free natural sugar substitutes. 

The natural sweetener derived from the Stevia plant is 200 times sweeter than ordinary table sugar, with zero caloriesIt is often a favorite substitute for people willing to lose weight or lessen sugar consumption. 

It has been proven that it can lower blood pressure and cholesterol level. The homegrown Stevia is more effective as it contains no additives. 

Indoor Stevia plantation is an easy task, but it requires some preliminary raw materials before starting your zero-calorie sugar harvesting.

Stevia leaves and their natural zero-calorie sugar
Stevia leaves and their natural zero-calorie sugar | Image Credit: Health Line

Basic Requirements

It is often an issue for new gardeners to start their plantation without adequate supplies. Before growing your indoor Stevia, make sure you have these few basic materials.

Plants: Stevia can be propagated from seeds, stem cuttings, or air layering. If you think Stevia germination from mediums is challenging or want to start a new plant, you can purchase starter saplings from a local store.

Substrates: The substrate is the growing media of plants and supporting organisms for survival and nourishment. Potting mix or Coconut noir makes suitable substrates as they are excellent in water clenching. You can get them in local stores or online vendors. 

Receptacle: A 12-inch hollow pot made of clay or plastic would be perfect for growing Stevia. You can choose sizes, designs, and shapes based on your personal preferences. The pot must contain a drainage hole at the bottom for excess water evacuation.

It is a hectic task to arrange materials if you don’t have an idea where to buy them. Some of the products available on Amazon are:

Product with linkPurpose
Zero-calorie sweetener by STEVIA IN THE RAW (Bestseller)Sugar alternatives
Non-GMO Stevia seeds by PAPCOOLSeeds for planting
Plantonix coco noir bricks Substrates
6.3 inches plastic potsReceptacle
Suertree wooden frame for propagationMaintain temperature
Brussel humidity tray with rocksMaintain humidity
Handpicked dried leaves for SteviaSugar alternatives
Multi-Purpose Aqua Oasis HumidifiersMaintain humidity indoor
N-Primer Nitrogen supplement Fertilizer for Stevia
Whale life Water can (Amazon choice)Watering Stevia

Climatic Conditions for Growth

Once you have your raw materials, you must have an ideal climatic setup for the plant to germinate. The significant factors affecting a plant’s growth are temperature, sunlight, and moisture. 

These factors are responsible for the cellular functionality of plants, such as photosynthesis, transpiration, and respiration. Disturbance in such phenomena will halt plant growth due to internal stress on plant tissues.

Temperature: As Stevia is a South American native plant, an indoor temperature above 70oF is required to grow. Ensure the temperature does not drop below 50oF during the night and does not exceed 85oF in the daytime. You can maintain temperature by 

  • Using ACs, 
  • Covering the plant in winter, 
  • Using wooden frame protection, and 
  • Protecting your planters.

Sunlight: The Stevia plant requires 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight to thrive fully in the outdoors. If you place your setup on a south or west-facing window, your indoor Stevia will bask in the sun for 8 – 10 hours. But it might not be possible for all interested gardeners. For those, you can purchase a glowing light for your indoor plants.

Moisture: Since Stevia is a tropical plant, it requires 40 – 60% humidity. Average homes have a 30 – 40% humidity, which lowers during winter due to dry weather conditions. If you want to maintain humidity for your Stevia, try

  • Misting, 
  • Using pebble trays, 
  • Humidifiers, 
  • Showering your plants during winter, and 
  • Creating a micro-planet

Starting a Stevia Plant

It is wonderful to watch saplings upsurging from layers of substrates, peeking the world from their tiny leaves. 

This experience is what makes starting a plant more exciting. Though Stevia plantation is simple, the propagation method is a better choice as seeds’ germination is unreliable. Ensure you provide adequate light if you decide to use seed as a medium.

Stevia Propagation | Video Credits: D’rustic World

Starting from Seeds

Stevia’s seed plantation is very simple, like planting other vegetables and flowers. Steps to starting your Stevia from seeds are

  1. Fill your container up to 1 inch below the top and slightly dampen your substrates using water. 
  2. Sow the seeds a quarter-inch down and gently cover them with substrates.
  3. Arrange your setup on location with an Ambient temperature of 70oF. 
  4. The fillers must not be saturated as it allows the soil’s pore to fill with the water, causing oxygen deficiency for vital plant phenologies. 
  5. Your samplings should be ready in 10 – 16 days. It would be best to thin them when they are 2-3 inches tall and transport them to respective substrates.

Starting from Stem cuttings

If you want to use stem cuttings for your sapling germination, the steps are:

  1. A 4-inch long stem is an ideal stem size. Clear leaves from the bottom 2 inches of cutting. 
  2. Dip the bottom section on rooting agents or hormones. Place your branch on moist sand, perlite, or vermiculite. 
  3. After 3-4 weeks, a cutting is ready for transplantation in substrates. 

Air Layering

This strategy only works if you already have a matured Stevia in your possession. 

  1. Gently bend long branches of mature plants to the growing media. Make sure you do not break the branch. 
  2. Affix the middle portion of the branch with wires. The top 3 – 4 inches should be free for proper growing. 
  3. After a few weeks, the roots will arise from tip nodes touching the soil. Your sapling is ready now; you can transplant it into another container by cutting the branch. 

Growing Tips 

Tiny white flower of Stevia
Tiny white flower of Stevia | Picture Credit: Vivre Demain

Tiny white flower of Stevia| Photo by Kim Starr| Wikimedia Commons

Stevia is an easy-growing plant as it does not require a lot of surveillance beyond its basic setups. However, knowing some handy growing tips is always advantageous. 

  • Dry out the upper section of a substrate before watering. Stevia does not prefer soggy growing media.
  • Nip the flower bud when it appears. Detach the beautiful white flowers of the plant and wait a few days for harvesting leaves.
  • Try to avoid watering directly onto the plant. Water the soil and save the leaves.
  • Maintain proper air circulation to minimize pests and disease problems.
  • Provide a dilute dose of nitrogen fertilizer every 4-6 weeks. Make sure you don’t use it excessively as it enhances leaf size but subsides flavor.
  • After successfully growing your Stevia, use your mature plant for starting plantlets. A cherished Stevia will survive for 3-5 years, but its flavor deteriorates after the first growing season. 
  • Pinch back the plant’s tip for bushier growth and harvest regularly.

Potential Growth Complications and Causes

The indoor plantation technique is not immune to potential plant-growth problems. It would be best to always look for symptoms or signs and determine the cause. 

Below are some of the frequent occurring complications and their mainspring, which can be solved by setup adjustment or expert assistance.

Signs Causes
Leaves falling after being yellowToo warm
Leaves curl around and turn brownToo cold
Leaves leaf edges turn brown and fallToo much heat
Wrinkle on leaves with bleached yellow colorToo much sunlight
Stretched out stems, small leaves, losing variegationLess sunlight or blue light
Green soil and Rotting PlantsExcessive water
Dry soil, dry leaf, and withering Scarce water availability
Spotted, yellowed, and speckled leaves with the possible presence of websPests
Mosaic leaf pattern and crinkled leavesPlant disease

Wrapping Up

Stevia is easy to grow herbal shrubs with various health benefits. Correct basic steps and a sustainable climatic setup can give you a bushier natural sweetener. 

However, there is a health concern, especially for those more sensitive to its possible side effects. It is best to consult with an expert regarding health status and consumption.

Sadrish Dabadi is a Master’s degree graduate in Mountain Ecology and Glaciology from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. His expertise in climate change impacts on people and ecology makes him an ideal consultant for environmental problems. Hills and forests, rivers and lakes, valleys and mountains, oceans and seas, you can name more; These will always be things that he will love more than any materialistic gifts!