Growing Fresh Stevia In Your Garden

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Stevia is an exciting plant for herbal garden because of its natural and calorie free sweetness. The perennial plant loves the warm sun but dies back in a freeze. In zone 9 and warmer conditions, the roots survive the winter and often come back in spring. With protection, it can also survive winter in zone 8. Herbal gardeners in frost-free areas love growing the plant all year-round and allow it to grow into small scrubs. Its vigor tends to decline after the second year, so replanting is encouraged if you want maximum amount of foliage.

Planting and Care

Stevia needs around 18 inches space or room of its won. If you are gardening in containers, give stevia at least a 12-inch pot with the right potting mix. It’s better to place it in full sun and remember to water it when the top inch of the potting gets or feels dry.  It grows up to 1 to 3 feet in height in loamy and well drained soil. However, this depends on the growing season. Don’t plant during frost: wait until all the danger of frost have passed before you plant stevia. You can also mulch to prevent it from drying during hot summer days.

Good Drainage Is Important

Stevia doesn’t do well in soggy soil, so ensure that it has good drainage to prevent its roots from drying out. One tale-tell sign of rot is wilting, especially if doesn’t recover after you’ve watered it. The great thing about stevia is the fact that few insects bother it.

Harvest and Storage

Stevia’s leaves are sweetest in cool temperatures and taste best prior to blooming. To preserve it and make it more convenient to use, you can dry it. One day should be enough to dry stevia leaves. Ensure that you bring the leaves in before dew dampens them again. Food dehydrators can be used to dry the leaves. Once they are dry, crush or powder them with a food processor. Store in a cool dry and airtight container.

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Tips On How To Grow And Care For Beautiful Annual Strawflowers

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When planning the annuals for your flower garden, consider charming and beautiful strawflowers. These bright and cheerful straw-like blooms in colors of orange, red, yellow, pink, purple and white are perfectly suited for the sunniest spot in your yard.  Planted there, they will reward you with by continuously blooming from the beginning of summer until the fall’s first hard frost.

A member of the daisy family, the strawflower needs similar growing conditions. Strawflowers are heat loving and generally tolerate drought well. They grow is almost any well-drained type of soil. Once planted and established, these happy flowers require very little care. Just water them when the soil around then feels slightly dry and they will continue to grow and bloom all summer long.  The only other maintenance needed is the dead-heading (pinching off faded blooms) of spent flowers to promote continual blooming.

Growing strawflowers is simple. You may plant strawflower seeds directly in your garden after any danger of spring frost passes. To plant the seeds, dig into the soil up to a depth of least eight to ten inches. Although strawflower seeds don’t have to have rich soil, they are always happy to have two or three inches of compost added to the mix before planting if you can. When the soil is ready, sprinkle the seeds lightly over the surface of the soil. Water the area lightly with a spray attachment without covering the seeds with soil. When the seedlings grow up to two or three inches tall, thin them out to a distance of ten to 12 inches apart so the plants are not crowded.

When the seedlings grow up to two or three inches tall, thin them out to a distance of ten to 12 inches apart so the plants are not crowded.  Strawflowers need air circulation to keep their leaves dry and prevent mildew plus other diseases related to too much moisture.  Avoid over-watering the plants also, as they rot if soil conditions are too wet.

You may also plant strawflower seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost by putting a commercial potting mix in a planting tray, sprinkling the seeds on top of the soil, and watering it enough for the seeds to stick to the soil. Cover the tray with clear plastic to keep them moist and warm until the seeds germinate.  When they have grown one or two sets of leaves, transplant them into individual pots and keep them in a sunny room that is cool in the evening. When danger of frost is past, plant them in your garden.

Bright and beautiful strawflowers are dependable annuals that are easy to grow and add colorful vivacity to your garden. For more information on strawflowers and other annuals, read more from Pushing Daisies sign up to follow the site