How to Grow a Yerba Mate Tree

Are you interested in growing healthy plants on your property? Have you ever thought about a yerba mate plant?

Not only are yerba mate plants easy to grow, but their leaves also have many health benefits. When steeped in hot water, they can provide antioxidants and many cholesterol-lowering properties. They may also serve to improve your mood and focus, and even boost your immune system. Or you can simply grow one to have around the house!

Are you wondering how to grow a yerba mate tree?

Here's what you need to know.

Climate and Environment

Yerba mate plants (Ilex paraguariensis) come from the subtropical region of South America. They prefer humid, hot climates that grow plenty of rainfall. Yerba mate plants thrive best when temperatures stay above sixty degrees Fahrenheit. 

Yerba mates can tolerate lower temperatures for shorter periods of time. If, however, the temperatures drop below forty degrees, your plant could die.

Similarly, yerba mate plants can survive lower humidity temporarily. Yet if the humidity in your area is lower than 50%, your plant probably won't survive. 

If you're wondering "can I grow my own yerba mate?" you'll want to keep your climate in mind.

If you don't live in the right environment for outdoor growing of yerba mates, you may be able to grow one on your windowsill. You'll need rich soil that absorbs moisture well.

Size and Shape of Trees

Yerba mate trees grown in the wild can grow to over eight meters tall, but they've been known to grow even taller. Their leaves are oval-shaped and around five inches long. 

The height of your yerba mate tree will depend on how much sunlight it receives. Your indoor plant may only grow to be around two to three feet tall.

Where It Can Be Grown

Geographically, yerba mate trees are usually grown in Argentina, Southern Brazil, Uraguay, and Paraguay. It's been only introduced in Hawaii.

If the temperature and humidity in your area are generally high, you can try growing your yerba mate tree outdoors. Otherwise, stick with an indoor plant. If planting indoors, make sure you keep the temps in your place above sixty degrees Fahrenheit.

The soil for your plant should be slightly more acidic. The PH can be up to just below 7.

Make sure your plant gets sunlight at least half of the day. Consider using a nitrogen-rich compost or organic fertilizer. Anything mineral-rich will give your plants a more organic flavor.

Your fertilizer should be balanced. You should apply it every week between the summer and fall.

Yerba mates need to get pruned regularly, or their leaves will grow outward at a fast rate. This is especially important if you're cultivating an indoor plant! The foliage you trim from your plants can also make a great brew.

If you're planting outdoors, make sure you carefully weed around it. You don't want to smother your plant, especially when it's just beginning to grow.

You'll also want to keep it unaffected by insects and diseases. Don't plant your yerba mate tree anywhere near other plants infected with mealy bugs.

Where to Buy Seeds and Plants

You can purchase yerba mate seeds and plants at nurseries that specialize in culinary plants. It isn't common, however, to find them at local nurseries. You can also check out organic grocery stores or herb shops. 

Some folks find the seeds for yerba mate plants difficult to grow because they need to be stratified, or cooled, first. They could take anywhere from six months to a year to germinate.

Cuttings can be a little easier to start with. They need to get taken in later summer and should be semi-woody. Before growing them, they must get treated with a rooting hormone.

These days, you can purchase anything you're looking for online. Check out our store for quality yerba mate products.

Manufacturing and Processing

Yerba mate leaves get shifted using special machinery that separates sticks, leaves, and stems. It is then blended to the proportion requirements of each brand. 

The processing itself will vary greatly depending upon the style and flavor of the producer. The stems and leaves will get flash heated and then placed in drying chambers. 

Yerba grinds are then placed in special bags for aging. Here, they could get smoked or roasted depending upon what the producer is looking for. With some types, the green, floral flavor is minimized and a smoky taste is enhanced. Finally, it gets packaged and shipped off to sellers or consumers.

Yerba mate can get made into ready-to-use packets in the same way as tea. Those who go to the trouble of growing their own yerba mate are usually big fans of the drink. The herbal beverage is created from the ground up twigs and leaves of the yerba mate plant and steeped in hot water. In South America, it's served in a gourd with a special straw.

Yerba mate is high in antioxidants, which protect your cells against the free radicals that cause diseases such as heart disease and cancer. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce your risk of cancer. It also contains vitamins like Vitamin E, Vitamin C, selenium, and zinc.

How to Grow a Yerba Mate Tree

If you're wondering how to grow a yerba mate tree, consider your climate first. You may be best suited to a smaller indoor plant. When you're ready to grow yerba mate, you can prepare yourself for a healthy treat you can enjoy hot or cold.