* With its extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives.
* Medical research has also shown possible benefits of stevia in treating obesity and high blood pressure. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.
* Sweetness can vary from 10-600 times sweeter than sugar, dependent on a range of factors from soil, climate, time of harvest and many others.
*It is NOT a true substitute for sugar in all recipes. It does not dissolve, it does not make a syrup. Consider it as a flavouring, much as you would vanilla
* Propagate by seeds, by tip cuttings or root division. Seeds are slow to germinate.
* Flowering usually occurs 54-104 days after transplanting.
* The plant is climatically suited the temperature between 21-43 degree celcius, with an average of 24 degree celcius.
* As long as the roots are alive, the plant may regrow.
* Poor, loose, well drained soil is recommended. The plants need to be well-mulched so that surface feeder roots do not dry out.
* Stevia requires regular watering in dry periods but has poor tolerance to long waterlogging or to saline water or soils.
* Plants also respond well to liquid seaweed as a foliage spray applied fortnightly.
*As soon as the plant flowers, the leaf production slows down. Nip off flower buds, to encourage further leaf development. If the plant is left to flower, the tip leaves take on a slightly bitter overtone. Plant will die if left go to flower, so it should be cut back repeatedly to prevent flowering.
* Use dried, powdered leaves as a substitute for sugar. One tablespoon of stevia or less is equivalent to about 1 cup sugar.
* If using fresh leaves to replace dried quantities listed above, multiply the amount 5 times.