MIRACLE FRUIT / BERRY
Damage temperature: best kept from freezing, though some mature plants have been known to tolerate short spells below freezing if wind protected;
Miracle Berry is so named because of its amazing ability to confuse taste buds. When eaten, the berry causes sour foods eaten immediately thereafter such as lemons and limes to taste sweet.
The berry contains a glycoprotein named miraculin. When sour foods are ingested, a low pH occurs and the miraculin is then able to bind proteins such that the sweet taste buds are activated only. The result is the perception of a sweet taste no matter what is eaten.
The effect lasts about 30 minutes until the glycoprotein is washed away.
Miracle Berry is an evergreen, dense shrub that grows between 6-15' height, depending on how tropical the environment.
It is native to West Africa where it grows the tallest. Expect only about 6' height in Florida.
Seeds are slow to sprout, taking 8-10 weeks and the plants are slow to grow at first. It can take four years to reach 15-20 inches in height, and then they start to grow more rapidly.
The tiny white flowers turn into little red berries approximately an inch long, containing a single seed.
Miracle Berry grown from seed produces fruit within 3-4 years, generally in two crops per year.
We try to inventory 3g / $45 & 7g / $85 in this plant, at least in the spring.
Miracle Berry perfers partial shade, high humidity, and consistent water but good drainage. While it can tolerate some drought or full sunshine, it thrives much better with partial shade and consistent water.
Miracle Berry likes rich, well-drained soils, high in composted matter.
They grow best in highly acidic soil, between 4.5-5.8 pH., much like a blueberry plant.
Florida's soil is generally in the 6-7pH range.
Additionally, most tap water or even well water in Florida is also high on the pH scale because of the limestone that the water flows through before it gets to you. The water will have a pH of 7 or more, and will raise the pH of the soil everytime you water your plants.
Needs Soil Acidifier:
The soil pH is probably the single most challenging issue when growing Miracle Berry.
Consider adding a little 'soil acidifier' to your soil, approximately once a month to counteract these effects -- just apply as a top dressing and let the subsequent waterings carry it to the plant roots.
Epsoma makes an organic soil acidifier product that is 30% sulfur, derived from Elemental Sulfur and Gypsum, that can be purchased at Home Depot, and used for this purpose.
Use rain water where possible:
Another solution is to collect rain water for watering your Miracle Berry, and never water it with tap water or well water.
Container growing your Miracle Berry makes it easier to control the pH as well as the temperatures if you live in an area that sees occasional frost.