Many people know and like lychees, the fruit that can be found in the supermarket. Most of them do not know which plant these originate from. The lychee tree probably comes from southern China, northern Vietnam and Malaysia. You can no longer say exactly, because this tree has been cultivated for too long. There are three subspecies of the lychee trees, according to their main distribution area. However, today the trees are grown worldwide in the subtropical climates. The fruits are in great demand and trade is booming.


The lychee tree is an evergreen wood that can grow up to 10 meters high, sometimes even higher. The tree grows slowly, however. The treetop is round, as tall as it is wide. The budding of the new leaves is particularly beautiful. They are bronze in color. The inflorescences are large, widely branched and each contain flowers of both sexes. These are small and whitish to greenish, rather inconspicuous, but they look very good in large numbers. Up to 30 fruits can ripen on one fruit cluster.

You can cultivate a lychee tree as a container plant, but in our latitudes you will never be able to harvest fruit. Even under ideal conditions, such as those found in their natural habitat, the plants need at least 10 years until they bloom and ripen fruit. This is not possible with us. It is also too dark for the plant itself. It does not do well, grows extremely slowly. The shoots turn brown, emergency shoots form, but they quickly die off again. A bright, warm winter garden with a subtropical climate is the best place for a lychee tree. In winter, however, it ideally needs additional light. But it’s still not enough for fruit.

The cultivation of a lychee tree

Despite everything, it is possible to grow a lychee tree. The cultivation itself is the easiest part of this. Cultivation is a fairly safe way to get a litchi plant, because it is rarely found in stores. You need a ripe fruit. This can be recognized by the fact that there is no green tinge to be seen near the stem on the fruit. You can eat the fruit without damaging the core, so don’t bite on it. Then the core and warm water should be cleaned. The pulp must be completely removed.

  • It is beneficial to process the core straight away. If the seed dries out, which happens very quickly when stored, it is no longer capable of germination.
  • Soak it in warm water for at least 24 hours until the auburn shell opens.
  • Remove the cover and place the seeds in potting soil, about 1 to 2 cm deep, lying on their side. The substrate must be permeable and loose. It is beneficial to mix in perlite or coarse sand.
  • The germination time is between 7 and 30 days and mostly depends on the soil temperature.
  • Special planters are cheap, but a flower pot is also sufficient if drainage has been incorporated into the bottom.
  • Soil needs to be well watered after planting. It is best to work with a spray bottle so that the substrate is not rinsed out.
  • Place the vessel warm and light, but not in the sun. Temperatures around 25 ° C are ideal.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist, but never wet.
  • Use only lime-free or lime-free water!
  • Do not fertilize!
  • Only fertilize very lightly with liquid fertilizer after about 10 weeks, weekly, but only with a quarter of the specified amount.
  • Plants have to be warm and light, otherwise they will not grow.
  • If the young plant does not grow, only fertilize every four weeks, even ¼.
  • You have to know that lychees sometimes stop growing for two years. That is normal.
  • Even a lot of fertilization does not solve the problem, it tends to damage the plant.
  • As soon as 4 to 6 leaves have formed, the seedling can be carefully repotted. The core has to stay on the plant, it supplies it. Choose a planter large enough to last for the first two to three years. Since the litchi plant grows slowly, the container does not have to be large.
  • The roots must not be damaged under any circumstances. Therefore put the earth and its roots in the new container.
  • It is beneficial for the seedlings to spray the leaves regularly with warm water.

Maintaining a lychee tree

Caring for the lychee tree is not easy. Lack of light, especially in winter, is the problem. The tree grows very, very slowly, needs optimal conditions and a good hand for care. It is more of a plant for professionals or for plant lovers with ideal site conditions. In spite of all this, one can and should try. The tips of the leaves are often brown. These indicate that the tree is not really doing well. Something is still wrong. Often the location is too dark and / or incorrect irrigation.


The location is very important for the litchi plant. If it is not bright and warm enough, it will not thrive. In the summer the lighting conditions are quite good, unless it is a very rainy summer. In winter, already in autumn and for a long time in spring it is simply too dark in Central Europe. Additional plant lamps help so that the tree feels comfortable.

  • Full sun and warm as possible all year round
  • Slowly get young plants used to the sun
  • Get used to the midday sun slowly even after wintering
  • In summer also like outdoors, but as protected as possible
  • Temperatures not below 12 ° C.
  • Ensure that the air humidity is as high as possible.

Plant substrate

The substrate is also important. It has to be permeable, but also able to store some water. It is important that excess water can run off, which is why drainage at the bottom of the pot is recommended. Under no circumstances should the earth be permanently wet. This damages the roots and the plant reacts with leaf shedding and worse.

  • Permeable
  • Slightly sour
  • A sand-loam mixture is favorable.


After the young seedling has been planted in a larger pot, it can first spend the next few years in it. The tree grows so slowly that it doesn’t have to be replanted. Only when the root has completely rooted the substrate is it repotted. Care must still be taken not to damage the root. The litchi plant resents that. You put the entire rhizome in a somewhat larger vessel and fill with fresh soil all around.

Watering and fertilizing

You need a little dexterity for pouring. It all comes down to the right dosage. The lychee tree needs water regularly, but not too much. The top layer of soil should dry off before you pour it. As I said, it depends on regularity. In winter there is less watering, the cooler the plant, the less. Only fertilize with caution, too much is harmful. You cannot stimulate the tree to grow with fertilizers. It only grows under ideal conditions.

  • Water requirement rather low
  • Not too chalky
  • Preferably rainwater
  • It is important to have an even water supply.

The tree acknowledges irregularities with leaf shedding.

  • Water significantly less in winter.
  • High humidity is better.
  • Only fertilize a little, as the plant grows very slowly. Use organic fertilizer because of the low salt content.
  • It is enough to fertilize every four weeks.

To cut

Cutting will be unnecessary, because the tree grows so slowly and every now and then loses a shoot that it is better to leave everything as it is. Sick or dead shoots should of course be removed. Otherwise there is no need to cut.


Lychee trees do not tolerate any frost. Even temperatures below 10 ° C are unfavorable. It is best to take them back into the house before the first autumn storms. They don’t like the plants either. Wintering is not without its problems. The light conditions are extremely bad for the tree. In addition, there is usually insufficient humidity and pests. Often the plants do not survive this stressful situation. You have to help a lot here.

  • Young plants overwinter at room temperature
  • Older plants like it a little cooler
  • Pour less.
  • It is better to have a higher level of humidity, so spray the tree with warm water.
  • Do not fertilize!
  • It is essential to provide additional light with a plant lamp, otherwise the tree has no chance.
  • Air pollinators and activated carbon filters are also recommended.

See cultivation!

Diseases and pests

Brown leaf tips often appear. However, this is usually not a disease, but rather indicates that the plant does not like something. Usually the humidity is too low or it is simply too dark. During my research I found that almost all litchi plants that are kept in our climate suffer from these brown tips above a certain size. Even in tropical houses in botanical gardens, this problem is not unknown and there are usually more ideal conditions than in our living room or winter garden at home. So you don’t have to hang your head. Frequently occurring: Spider mites – especially when overwintered – must be combated immediately

The litchi plant is a plant for experts. Although I have read in forums that many plant enthusiasts pull a sapling from a core, many problems arise with further cultivation. I think the lychee tree is not for beginners, rather for connoisseurs. To do this, however, the site conditions still have to be right, otherwise all maintenance is of no use. I like plants, but when they cause so many problems, I prefer to stay out of them. I think lychee is not for me, but whoever likes should try. The cultivation seems to work quite well.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *