How to Plant Miracle Fruit


Native to tropical western Africa where it is called agbayun, miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) is a slow-growing large shrub with broadleaf evergreen leaves. Its curious important feature is the small red fruits that when eaten have the ability to trick your tongue's recognition of sour-tasting foods. Thus, things like lemons, rhubarb or under-ripe strawberries taste amazingly sweet after you chew on a ripe miracle fruit berry. Grow miracle fruit as a houseplant in a very brightly lit room or outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 and warmer where frost doesn't occur. It grows to 10 to 15 feet tall.

Step 1

Find a spot in your tropical garden where the soil is fertile and moist but well-draining after rains and irrigation. The miracle plant tolerates as little as four to six hours of direct sunlight daily to as much as eight hours, so find a spot that is partially shaded by taller trees or an arbor. In hot summer locations, this protective shade is needed in the midday hours.

Step 2

Dig a hole with the shovel where you want to plant the shrub. Make the hole at least twice as wide as the diameter of the miracle fruit's nursery container, but the same depth. Place the soil dug from the hole to the side, about a foot away, for amending.

Step 3

Incorporate peat into the soil pile at the edge of the planting hole. Mix roughly equal parts of peat with topsoil. This will be used to back-fill around the root ball after planting. Excess soil can be used to create a watering basin berm around the shrub.

Step 4

Remove the shrub from its nursery container, carefully pulling it out so that no soil breaks away or roots are pinched or broken. Place the shrub in the center of the planting hole.

Step 5

Place the handle of the garden shovel across the edge of the planting hole to gauge if the top of the shrub's root ball is at the same height as the hole. Add or remove soil as needed until the top of the root ball is at the same height as the hole's top edge.

Step 6

Replace the peat and topsoil mix soil back into the planting hole around the root ball of the miracle fruit shrub. Gently tamp down the soil as you fill the hole to remove air pockets and sturdy the root ball in the hole. Fill the hole until the soil is at the same level as the top of the root ball and edge of the planting hole.

Step 7

Form a low circular berm of soil 18 to 24 inches in radius outward from the shrub's trunk to create a basin for water.

Step 8

Fill the sprinkling can with water and pour it gently atop the planting hole, wetting the shrub's root ball and the soil thoroughly. Allow the soil berm basin to hold the water as it slowly trickles into the soil. Add enough water so that the soil is wet to at least a depth of 12 inches. This may mean refilling the basin two or three times.

Step 9

Add more soil to the planting hole if the watering compacts the soil below the top of the shrub's root ball. Use either the peat-topsoil mix or other regular topsoil.

Step 10

Scatter a layer of organic mulch at a depth of 3 to 4 inches around the plant. Keep the mulch 3 inches away from the shrub's trunk and extend it out to the berm edge. Use an acid-forming mulch like pine bark nuggets, oak leaf mold or pine straw.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not plant miracle fruit outdoors where temperatures drop to 32 degrees F in winter. Only large, well-established shrubs will survive an occasional, infrequent frost. Avoid infertile sandy garden soils that are neutral to alkaline in pH (above 6.8). It will lead to sickly growth and unattractive, malnourished, yellow foliage.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden shovel
  • Peat
  • Sprinkling can
  • Organic mulch


  • Tradewinds Fruit: Miracle Fruit
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: How to Plant a Shrub
  • North Carolina State University: Planting Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: planting miracle fruit, miraculous berry, Synsepalum dulcificum, tropical shrubs

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.