Planting lychee seeds: How to grow a lychee

lychee plant
lychee plant

From the seed of a lychee, you can grow a lychee plant in a few months. Here’s how to propagate the exotic.

Have you ever wondered if you can plant a lychee? In fact, it is worth not throwing it away after enjoying the exotic fruit. After all, with the right preparation, you can grow your own lychee plant from a lychee. In stores, the sweet-aromatic fruits of the subtropical lychee tree (Litchi chinensis) are usually available from November to March. In order to be able to use them for propagation, you should look out for fresh, fully ripe lychees with intact, reddish-brown skin when buying them.

Planting lychees: Preparations

To seed, first remove the rough, red skin of the lychee. Underneath is the aromatic, white flesh: carefully peel it off with a knife without damaging the shiny, black or dark brown seed. Wash the seed thoroughly under lukewarm water, making sure that no pulp remains attached to it. Then “dress” the lychee seed in warm water to promote germination: To do this, put it in water at 50 °C / 122 °F for about 20 minutes. Then place it horizontally in a pot with loose, nutrient-poor growing soil and cover it with substrate to a height of about 2 cm (0.8 in).

Growing a lychee plant: Step by step

Place the growing container with the lychee in a warm place: the ideal germination temperature is between 22 and 25 °C / 72 and 77 °F. Keep the substrate evenly moist, preferably with a sprinkler, it should not dry out, but also not be permanently wet. To ensure consistently high temperatures as well as high humidity, it is best to grow in a mini-greenhouse or under a transparent cover. Open the cover daily to prevent mold from forming.

Within two to three weeks, the lychee seeds should germinate. For the young plants to develop vigorously, they need plenty of light, but no direct sunlight. Otherwise, the shoot tips can dry out quickly. The location should be protected from drafts and have temperatures above 20 °C / 68 °F. To ensure high humidity, regular spraying of the plantlets with low-lime water, such as rain water, is advisable. As soon as the first true pair of leaves has developed after one or two months, the seedlings can be moved to a larger container. The foliage is copper-colored at budbreak and only later takes on a glossy green.

Further care of the lychee plant

When the evergreen lychee plants have grown vigorously after a few months, they can be placed in a sunnier place. In summer, they also thrive in a warm place outdoors, but in winter, like other potted plants, they are better kept in a bright, cool quarter at about 12 to 15 °C / 54 to 59 °F. For further care, keep in mind that the exotics have a very high water requirement. However, since they grow relatively slowly, they only require moderate fertilizer applications. Every two to four weeks during the growth phase. If the lychee trees feel good all around, they can develop into human-high plants. Unfortunately, fruits are not to be expected here, but the plants adorn themselves with shiny leaves.

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