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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include :

Sweet leaf, sugarleaf

Latin Name : Stevia rebaudiana

Plant Family : Asteraceae

Close Relatives : Daisies, chrysanthemums

Uses and Markets : Culinary, Medicinal (Stevia leaves contain steviosides, which are used as non-caloric sweeteners)

An individual stevia plant (photo credit: picturepartners, of stevia plants under cultivation (photo credit: casadaphoto, close up of stevia leaves (photo credit: Ari N, leaves and the refined sweetener (steviosides) that is obtained from them (photo credit: Zerbor,
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Although stevia has been cultivated in Ontario, it is not winter hardy, and therefore must be replanted each season.  This makes production economically uncompetitive with warmer growing regions (e.g. California, China), where stevia can be grown as a perennial crop.

Propagation method


Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

Seed to plug trays in early March.

Field Seeding Date:


Field Transplanting Dates

Early to mid-May.

In-row spacing

100,000 plants/ha

Between row spacing

53-61 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions.  Research from Japan suggests 105kg/ha N, 23kg/ha P and 180kg/ha K from both fertilizer and soil, would be adequate for Ontario. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well drained soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit

Low tolerance for saline soils.

Optimal Temperature Range

Prefers a temperate warm climate.

Temperature sensitivity

Will not survive temperatures below -3°C.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions (but may not be economical - see special notes above).

Days to harvest

54-104 days depending on day length sensitivity of cultivar.

Specialized equipment



Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest 

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades.

Additional Harvest Notes

Plants are harvested just prior to flowering.  They are cut off at ground level and loaded into a drying wagon. 

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Whole plants are dried at 40°C to 50°C to less than 10% moisture immediately after harvest, followed by processing to separate the leaves from the stems. 

Storage Conditions

Dried leaves are stored at low temperature in sealed, plastic lined boxes until processed to extract the steviosides.

Relative humidity (RH): Low

Temperature (°C): Low

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: N/A

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Cutworms

Diseases: Septorialeaf spot (Septoria steviae), white mould ( Sclerotinia sclerotiorum)

Other: Deer

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Aphids, whiteflies (greenhouse), mealy bugs (greenhouse), mites

Diseases: Powdery mildew (Erysiphe spp.), damping off (Rhizoctonia solani Kuehn.), stem rot (Sclerotium dephinii Welch)


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: cutworms, Septoria, deer. Repeated mechanical row-cultivating can be used to control weeds. The crop may also require hand hoeing and weeding.  This crop is not in a crop group. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  There may be limited pest control products registered on this crop – consult an OMAFRA specialist for details.    Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Research trials done by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, OMAFand MRA (Mike Columbus), Royal Sweet International Technologies and local farmers.  1989-1995.   On-farm and at the Delhi Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Centre.


  1. Columbus, M.  1997.  The cultivation of Stevia, “Nature’s Sweetener”.  Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs.
  2. Brandle, J.E., A.N. Starratt and M. Gijzen.  1998.  Stevia rebaudiana:  Its agricultural, biological and chemical properties.  Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 78:527-536.
  3. Ramesh, K., V.  Singh and N.W. Megeji.  2006.  Cultivation of Stevia [Stevia rebaudiana (Bert.) Bertoni]: A comprehensive review.  Advances in Agronomy. 89:138-177