How To Grow and Care For Lychee Tree: Growing Lychee From Seed

Learn how to grow lychee from seeds of the Lychee fruit. Lychee seed germination needs a warm climate and high humidity. The Lychee fruit grown from seed may be different than the parent tree in quality and taste and take many years to produce fruits, whereas the lychee tree grown from cuttings or layering will produce fruits in 3-4 years.

Lychee Fruit

lychee tree grows best outdoors in ground, but it is possible to grow it in pots. 

The lychee is often called the king of fruits. The lychee fruit is walnut size oval to round in shape, and red in color when fully ripe. When its red skin is peeled, a white translucent firm juicy ball flesh comes out containing a shiny brown seed at its center.

Growing Lychees From Seeds: Propagation of Lychee

The lychee tree can be propagated from seeds, air layering, stem cuttings and grafting. 

Can you grow a lychee tree from seed?  Also the lychee tree grown from seed will not come true to type of the parent tree.
Lychee Seeds
Lychee Seeds

Following is the method to sprout and germinate and grow lychee from seed. 

The lychee seeds lose their viability quickly so fresh seeds should be planted. The lychee seeds should be planted within 2-3 days. Older seeds begin to dry out and die. The longer the period of seed removed from the lychee fruit, the longer will be the time to germinate or it may not germinate at all.
Refrigeration of the lychee seeds may extend the viability of the seed for a few days only. 

Lychee Seed Germination and Planting the Seeds

Purchase some good quality fully ripe lychee fruits, eat them, and separate the seeds. The larger seeds germinate better than smaller seeds. Wash the seeds and soak them in water to sprout. Discard any seeds that are floating because not good for germination. 

You can directly plant the seeds in the soil, but to speed up germination, you can use the paper towel method. Also some varieties of lychee are difficult to germinate directly in soil, so paper towel method is good for such seeds. 
  1. Take a kitchen paper towel and sprinkle some water on the paper. Place the seeds on the paper and fold the paper towel. Enclose it in a Ziploc bag or polythene bag. The bag acts as a miniature greenhouse, providing more humidity to help the seed germinate.
  2. Place the bag in shade in a warm place (between 75 and 90°F or 24 and 32°C). 
  3. The seeds will germinate in 1 to 2 weeks.
Germinated Lychee Seeds
Germinated Lychee Seeds

Fill a pot with seed raising soil and plant the germinated lychee seed, keeping the pointed part down, about 1 inch deep in the soil. Keep the soil moist at all times. The new lychee plant will emerge in 2 to 6 weeks. Transfer the seedling in a large pot or ground when the seedling is about 10 inch high.
Lychee S

Lychee Tree Care

Germinated Lychee Seeds
Germinated Lychee Seeds

Soil For Lychee Tree

  1. The lychee tree needs a free-draining, nutrition rich slightly acidic soil (pH of 6.5). 
  2. The tree will die in excessively wet soil for long time so the soil should be sandy. 
  3. Add coarse river sand or perlite in the soil if it is clay.
  4. Add cow manure or compost in the soil to make it nutrients rich.

Watering Lychee Plant

  1. Keep the soil of the young lychee plant moist. 
  2. The water should not stand on the soil for long, otherwise the roots will rot and the tree may die.
  3. Watering is important when the tree starts to produce flowers, water regularly till it bears fruit.
  4. The lychee tree is very sensitive to damage from salts in the soil or in water.

Mulch For Lychee Tree

Apply a thick layer of organic mulch such as sugarcane mulch to the soil to contain humidity in the soil and also to prevent weeds.

Fertilizer For Lychee Tree

Fertilizer with N:P:K ratio of 8:4:8 works well.

Lychee Flowers & Fruits

Lychees are self-pollinating. The lychee tree produce both male and female flowers on the same panicle, so they are self-pollinating, therefore only one tree is needed to get fruit.  Lychee trees will need at least 5-25 years before bearing any fruits, depending on variety and seed quality, climate, soil and  sun light.

Sometimes, the lychee tree fails to bear flowers and fruits.

How to get lychee tree to bear fruit?

The lychee tree needs between 100-200 chilling hours (below 20°C) in order to set fruit,  
You must expose the tree to cold temperatures for at least 100 hours in the winter to trick the tree, if you want it to bloom and then bear fruit.

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