Stevia rebaudiana (100-120 days) Open-pollinated. As sweet as it gets, stevia is several hundred times sweeter than sugar, but without the calories. It is used fresh, dried, powdered or in a liquid as a sugar substitute. Stevia grows into a bushy 2' plant with serrated leaves and white flowers in late summer. Pinch it back for greater bushiness and higher yields. An erratic and finicky germinator, the seed needs light. Likes heat so should not be transplanted outdoors until nights stay above 50°. Work compost into well-drained soil or raised beds. Perennial in Zone 9, so treat as an annual or bring indoors in a container. Ironically, it retards plaque and inhibits tooth decay. Seed has short longevity; order only a 1-year supply. ~3,100 seeds/g. ③
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See Herb Chart in the sidebar for uses and cultural information.
About medicinal herbs: Archeological evidence dates the medicinal use of herbs back 60,000 years to the Neanderthals. 85% of the world’s population employ herbs as medicines, and 40% of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. contain plant-derived materials. Fewer than 10% of higher plant species have been investigated for their medicinal components. Interest in traditional herbal remedies continues to grow.
Statements about medicinal use of plants have not been evaluated by the FDA, and should not be used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any ailment. Before using or ingesting any medicinal plant, consult a healthcare practitioner familiar with botanical medicine.
Using herbs: Drying herbs at home is not difficult. Whole leaves retain their flavor at least a year. To substitute fresh herbs for dried in cooking, use triple the dried quantity called for in a recipe.
Culture: Some herbs are customarily grown from divisions because they cannot come true from seed, such as scented thymes and flavored mints. Some require fall sowing of fresh seed, such as sweet cicely and angelica, and these become available in August or September.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.