Tender Perennial. Stevia is becoming more and more popular among health-conscious individuals. The main reason for its rising popularity is that it's 20 to 30 times sweeter than sugar cane, yet it's non-caloric. Grind the dried leaves and sprinkle them into dishes as you would sugar and it's even heat stable which allows you to use it for cooking and baking. The plant is a tender perennial that needs well-drained soil and little else to grow.