Miracle fruit plants are small shrubs or trees native to West Africa. The scientific name of the plant is sideroxylon dulcificum, but it is also referred to as synsepalum dulcificum. The "miracle" of the miracle fruit is its ability to make bitter, sour and hot things taste sweet after the berry has been ingested. Growing miracle fruit plants requires specific care.
Miracle fruit plants require bright light indoors and filtered light outdoors. Because the plant is native to Africa, it is accustomed to humid, hot conditions. Miracle fruit grows best in containers to enable the gardener to relocate the plant in case of frost warnings or brutal sun. In the U.S., the plant will only grow in the ground in Florida and Hawaii.
Acidic soil is required to grow a miracle fruit plant successfully. Miracle fruit plants prefer soil acidity to be at a pH level of 4.5 to 5.8. Soil that is more acidic or alkaline will affect the plant's ability to set fruit. The California Rare Fruit Growers group suggests using a mix of Canadian acid peat moss and pine bark in equal amounts. Peat moss and perlite--also at a ratio of 1:1--is also adequate.
Miracle fruit plants cannot tolerate water-logged root systems. Peat-pine mixes and peat-perlite mixes provide adequate drainage as long as the plant's pot has drainage holes on the bottom. Indoors, air conditioning and heating sap humidity out of the air. Covering the plant with a plastic bag (especially in the winter) and misting daily with filtered water helps to keep the plant properly hydrated.
The miracle fruit plant is propagated by seed. These seeds lose their viability quickly and require immediate planting. Planting is done by gently pressing the seed just below the soil line. If immediate planting is impossible, seeds should be kept moist with wet paper towels wrapped around them. If allowed to dry out, the miracle grow seed is unlikely to germinate.
The miracle fruit itself is not known to pose any health risks. The fruit is used mainly in fun, so that people can experience eating lemons and vinegar without puckering. Be cautious if the plant is grown with children in the household. The miracle fruit makes bitter, unpleasant-tasting things--including toxic chemicals--sweet and palatable.