Growing Stevia (Natural Sugar Plant ) in Hydroponics


The Stevia plant is a perennial that can be grown indoors/outdoors in the Hydroponic System. A single plant can play a big role in the reduction of refined sugar consumption.

In most of the diet, sweetners, usually supplied by refined white sugar derived from sugar cane and sugar beet, are recognized as being the leading factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes and tooth decay.Just one half teaspoon of 100% pure Stevia extract powder equals the sweetness level of a whole cup of granulated sugar.


Growing and Planting Care 

  • Gardeners can choose to start from Seed or by Root - cutting, and grow in either cocopeat and vermicompost mix grow media or in Hydroponic Nutrient solution alone
  • This Herbal sweetener is famous for poor germination rates as low as 50% or less and if the Stevia seeds germinated it is a slow grower .
  • Better you take a cutting from a new growth that is not too much green or too woody . If the cutting is too green and fresh it will wilt soon , and if it is too woody it may face trouble rooting .
  • Before propagating Stevia, make sure to check the plant from which the cutting will be taken. Ensure that no disease or pests are present that will be passed on to the new plant by observing the leaves, stems, and grow-media for any unusual spotting, insect presence, or fungal residue on the plant or in the grow-media. Once the established Stevia plant has passed this check, it’s time to grab some fresh cuttings to propagate.
  • Slice the stem with a sharp knife under the third leaf node , counting from the top of the plant . A leaf node is an active area where the leaves are emerging from the stem .
  • The cutting should be roughly about 3-5 inches long.


Nutrients Applications :

Stevia is not a heavy feeder and does not like much Nitrogen. Hydrilla suggests feed Stevia in a Hydroponic System with low nitrogen and high potasium Special formulation for growing hydroponic stevia plants and maintain the nutrient solution pH in the range of 6.0 to 6.5.


Pruning and harvesting Stevia :

  • In the first year year , you can let Stevia plant grow and need not to prune the leaves , it will eventually grow into a tall plant with 7- 8 branches 
  • To maximize the leaf production , you will have to trim back your plants quite a few times to encourage branching.
  • Perform the first pruning when plants are about to 8 - 10 inches in height.
  • When grown year round you can harvest Stevia up to 5 times a year. It will keep growing new stems from where you have to cut it back .
  • It is recommended not to cut it back beyond half of the stem height.
  • To get more sweetness in the leaf ( more of Steviol glycoside content ) , make sure you pluck the leaves prior to flowering .

Make the most of your Stevia harvest by storing all that wholesome sweetness for future use. There are two main ways to do this :- 


By drying the leaves. 

You can dry individual leaves or entire stems, but only the leaf has the sweetness you want to preserve. This can be done by hanging stems or leaves in bunches, as you would with other herbs. Or remove the leaves from the stems and spread them on a non-metal screen outdoors with plenty of air circulation. A day in the sun should suffice. You can use a food dehydrator, or even an oven on low - 140 degrees for about 20 minutes.


By making a Stevia extract.

Making an extract will require the use of dried Stevia leaves that are only lightly crushed - not ground fine. This method extracts the sweetness from the Stevia herb and concentrates it in “ Water or Alcohol ” for future use. Bring 1 cup of water to a near boiling, add 1/2 cup of lightly crushed Stevia leaves. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 40 minutes. Strain through cheese cloth or a coffee filter and pour into a sterilized dark colored jar. Store your Stevia extract in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. This yields 3/4 cups, equivalent to about 3 cups of sugar. Now you know how to make a Stevia extract!

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