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A lychee tree is still exotic in the local latitudes. However, you can grow the plant yourself from seeds. You should therefore not dispose of the stone in the fruit after enjoying it, but use it for your own cultivation. Especially those who own a greenhouse or a winter garden have a good chance of growing the small trees and later harvesting the tasty fruits.

grow a lychee tree

Two types of cultivation

There are two ways to grow a lychee tree. On the one hand there is sowing, on the other hand there is also propagation with cuttings. With the second type, you need an existing lychee plant, as you can use shoots from it for breeding. For sowing, on the other hand, only the fruit lychee is required, which is usually available in the supermarket in the winter months. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages:

  • no existing lychee tree required when sowing
  • first harvest after about five to ten years
  • for hobby gardeners with patience
  • mother plant required for cuttings
  • first harvest can be expected earlier
  • Cultivation with cuttings is always successful
  • not all seedlings germinate and root
  • Faster preparation for cuttings



Obtaining Seeds

When the first lychee fruits are on the supermarket fruit counters in January and February, this is also the perfect time to collect the seeds for your own cultivation of a Litchi chinensis. After enjoying the fruit, you can prepare and sow the seeds. The perfect seed can be obtained from a ripe lychee. You should therefore pay attention to the following when buying:

  • Shell is deep pink in color
  • no more green spots
  • Shell is firm and bumpy
  • leave some green lychee
  • mature over time


So that the seeds obtained can be used and a lychee tree can be grown, the cores obtained must be prepared. You should proceed as follows to stimulate germination:

  • cut fruit
  • Remove the pulp from the core
  • Ideally with your fingers
  • carefully so as not to damage the core shell
  • wash carefully under running water
  • use lukewarm water
  • there should be no pulp left at the core
  • then soak in lukewarm water
  • until the shell bursts open

If you want to be on the safe side, you should prepare several cores and use them for sowing. Because often germination does not succeed immediately. But so that at least one lychee tree can be grown, several seeds must be sown.

potting soil

The right potting soil is required to grow the seedlings. Because the lychee plant places special demands on the substrate, so the composition must be right from the start of cultivation. The potting soil should look like this:

  • loose and lean
  • well drained
  • Nutrients in the substrate prevent germination
  • use special potting soil from the trade
  • alternatively mix coir, perlite and clay

Purchased potting soil often harbors the risk of pest eggs, bacteria or fungal spores. So that these are killed before use, the earth can be put in the oven. The previously moistened soil is heated at 150 °C for half an hour. Before the core is then put into the ground, it must first have cooled down again.

Preparation for sowing

If the right soil has been chosen, then the pot must be selected. For this purpose should always only small pots be used. If only one seed is planted in each pot, it does not have to be pricked out later. To prevent waterlogging, a drainage is laid on the floor above the drainage hole. To do this, put a small shard of clay or expanded clay on the bottom of the vessel. Then cover a small piece of plant fleece before the potting soil is filled in.


If the core has burst open in lukewarm water after a few days, you can put it in the ground. To do this, the seeds are pressed about one to two centimeters deep into the earth. Then proceed as follows:

  • Press the soil lightly
  • moisten slightly
  • use lime-free water
  • Rainwater or stagnant tap water
  • Pot can be watered from below
  • immerse it in water for a few minutes

cover pot

In order for the lychee to germinate well, it is important to suggest a subtropical climate. For this are indoor greenhouses particularly well suited. Not only do they look beautiful, they also keep the moisture inside well and can also be well ventilated. If no indoor greenhouse is available, you can use the following alternatives:

  • cover with a clear plastic bag
  • Cut the PET bottle in half
  • slip over the pot
  • Place the glass upside down over the vessel
  • air daily
  • otherwise mold may form


The ideal location for the time of germination is semi-shady. Direct sunlight should definitely be avoided here. What is important, however, are constant temperatures, which should be around 25° Celsius. The following locations are therefore particularly suitable:

  • near a heater
  • on window sill of east or west window
  • maybe use a heat lamp
  • a place in a heated conservatory is favorable
  • a heated, bright greenhouse in the garden is also suitable
  • watch out for high humidity
  • possibly place bowls of water around the plant
  • alternatively use humidifiers

Repot after germination

If the first leaves appear after a few weeks, germination was successful. As soon as the young plant has at least three or more pairs of leaves, it has sufficient stability. Now is the right time to repot the lychee plant so that it also gets a different substrate. Because this is important for the further growth of the lychee. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following when repotting:

  • use slightly acidic, permeable and nutrient-rich soil
  • Mix loamy garden soil with coconut fibers and perlite
  • Also create drainage in the new pot
  • Container about a third larger than breeding pot
  • Fill the prepared soil two-thirds of the way into the pot
  • Carefully remove the plant from the nursery pot
  • Leave soil at the roots
  • place in a small depression in the ground
  • fill with the remaining soil and press down lightly
  • water well

The lychee plant grows very slowly, so a small pot will suffice for the next two to three years before you need to repot again. If the container is too large, the young plant will concentrate on rooting and neglect the formation of leaves and new shoots.

Lychee plant after 5 weeks and after 7 weeks

Grow from cuttings

If you already have a lychee tree, you can grow new plants from cuttings. This is faster and often even more successful than growing from seedlings. For this purpose, half-woody, non-flowering, about 15 cm long head shoots are used. The advantage of this propagation is that the first fruits can be harvested earlier and does not have to wait up to ten years, as is the case with lychee chinensis grown from seeds. When breeding from cuttings, pay attention to the following:

  • Stick cuttings to one third in potting soil
  • plug in up to the first eye
  • this is where the roots form
  • partially shaded and bright window seat
  • about constant 25 °C
  • Always keep cuttings slightly moist
  • repot after rooting
  • proceed as under point "Repot after germination".


After repotting the small lychee plant, it needs special care so that it grows well. The first fertilization begins about four weeks after repotting. Because the nutrients in the fresh soil are sufficient for the first time. The care for the small lychee tree should be as follows:

  • sunny and warm location
  • but not too hot
  • no direct midday sun
  • better in the conservatory than on the balcony
  • constant temperatures of 25° Celsius
  • Always keep root ball moist
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • Only allow the soil to dry slightly on the surface
  • use liquid fertilizer for tropical plants every four weeks
  • fertilize from April to October

The hobby gardener should not be put off by the fact that the lychee tree only grows very slowly after rapid germination. Because this is common with the exotic trees.


Even if the lychee tree is used to consistently warm temperatures in its native habitat, giving the plant a light touch will benefit its growth and future harvest hibernation treat. This also stimulates flowering, which later produces the tasty fruits. If, on the other hand, the plant is in the same warm location all year round, there will be no flowering and therefore no harvest. So you should overwinter the lychee as follows:

  • keep cool but bright
  • between 12°C and 15°C
  • do not fertilize
  • keep it moist
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • high humidity
  • Location in the unheated conservatory
  • a bright, cool staircase is ideal
  • Leaves may fall off
  • sprout again in spring


Ideally, you can harvest the first fruits five years after cultivation at the earliest. On average, however, the time for harvesting is only around ten years of life. In contrast to the large lychee fields in Africa, the fruits ripen in late summer to autumn in the local latitudes. When harvesting, you should pay attention to the following:

  • dark skin promises ripe fruit
  • Green lychees can also be harvested
  • are still ripening
  • own harvest less tasty
  • is due to the low solar radiation in local latitudes

The fact that the fruit of the lychee chinensis is offered in the supermarket in winter is because the fruit sold here comes from South Africa and Madagascar, which is always warm. The plants grown here, on the other hand, need the heat in summer to allow the lychees to grow and mature well.

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