Gymnema sylvestre, also known as miracle fruit, sugar destroyer and periploca of the woods, is a member of the family Asclepiadaceae. A woody, vine-like plant that has many branches, Gymnema sylvestre thrives in subtropical and tropical climates. It is native to regions in Africa, South America and Asia. Considered an important medicinal herb, its use dates back thousands of years. Once established, Gymnema sylvestre is hardy and grows well in the warm planting areas of the United States.
Grow Gymnema sylvestre outdoors in USDA planting zones 9 and 10. It will grow best in warm tropical and subtropical areas not prone to freezes or frosts. The plant's habit of growth makes it unsuitable for containers.
Plant and grow Gymnema sylvestre in well-draining soils rich in humus and organic materials. Amend the planting site’s existing soil with one bag of humus and cow manure, working it down 1 foot. Amend an area of 3 feet in diameter around the plant's root ball.
Select a mature tree in your landscape that is thick and large enough to produce shade, and grow the Gymnema sylvestre nearby. Be sure the tree’s wood is strong enough to support the woody vines. This plant requires full shade to grow appropriately.
Water the planting site approximately three times per week to keep the area moist but not soggy. Gymnema sylvestre will not tolerate wet feet but will grow best if the soil is slightly moist. Regulate your watering schedule by your local weather conditions.
Apply a fresh application of compost around the base of the plant in early spring and summer.
Mulch the planting site to help the soil retain moisture and stop weed growth. Apply a fresh application in spring.
Fertilize with an all-purpose, granular 8-8-8 mixture in spring and late fall. Spread the fertilizer three feet in diameter around the base of the Gymnema sylvestre. Water the fertilizer well.
Prune the woody vines to control their size and allow the plant to branch out.