Sweetheart Lychee Tree

Growing Zones in Ground: 8 - 11 / in Pots: 4 - 11

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Lychees are a delicacy. Bright red clusters of small, one to two inch fruit appear against a backdrop of shiny, dark green leaves and give the Lychee Tree a decorated appearance. The bumpy red skin easily cracks in a perfect seam to reveal juicy, white pulp that is sweet, floral, and succulent.

Lychee Trees are evergreen tropical trees that can be grown in the ground in USDA Zones 9 to 11, and in a container in Zones 4 to 11. They need protection from wind, especially when young, but otherwise are easy to grow. Their growth rate is slow but steady, and a well cared for tree can begin producing fruit within two years.

Lychee Tree Care

Lychee Trees are self-fertile and will produce many clusters of fruit as a solitary tree. Adding a second Lychee will always increase the yield of both trees, but it is not required to produce fruit. The Lychee Tree is a dwarf variety that will only reach a height of about 8 to 10 feet, and a width of 6 to 8 feet. It is slow growing and can be grown in the ground in Zones 9 to 11.

In colder areas this tree is ideal for growing in a container and over-wintering indoors. If you plan to grow a Lychee tree in a container, be sure to use a sturdy pot with holes for drainage. Also place your tree in a spot that will get the maximum amount of direct sunlight per day. If you are growing indoors, position the tree in a south-facing window. You can also supplement the light with grow lights. Use a saucer or place the tree outdoors to water so you can water thoroughly and allow the pot to fully drain.

Fruit & Harvesting

Lychees grow clusters of small blooms that extend from branch ends and slowly form green oval fruits. The fruits become bumpy and red when ripening, and will hang in groups of between ten to thirty or more fruit per cluster. Harvest Lychee trees by using hand trimmers to cut away fruit by clipping the small branch ends above the clusters of fruit. When ripe, the fruit will easily crack open with a gentle squeeze, and the thick skin can be pulled away to reveal sweet white pulp.

Each Lychee will contain a seed that easily releases from the pulp. The seeds are not edible and can contain harmful compounds, but once removed the flesh is perfectly safe and widely consumed across the globe. Lychee trees are ready to harvest in April and May. After harvesting, the trees can be pruned to encourage strong limbs and new growth.


Growing Zones


When your Lychee Tree produces, you will likely have a large quantity of the sweet, tasty, unique fruits. The most popular way to eat Lychees is fresh out of hand. But with a large crop you may also be glad to know that Lychees are excellent canned, or used in desserts, drinks, and salads. They can be frozen unpeeled and whole, and refrigerated fresh for up to a week.

Lychee Trees are suitable for growing in a range of soils, but must have adequate drainage and periodic deep watering. Once your tree is planted, you can mulch the ground under it with organic material such as shredded tree bark, leaves, grass clippings, pine straw, or hay. However, do not stack mulch around the tree base, as this can encourage rot and pests.


How long will it take a Lychee Tree to grow fruit?

Lychee Trees are relatively slow growing, but their growth is continual and steady. A newly planted small tree growing under good conditions can produce fruit within two years.

Can a Lychee Tree be grown in cold climates?

Yes. While the ideal location to grow a Lychee Tree outdoors is in USDA Zones 9 to 11, in Zones 4 to 11 you can grow a Lychee Tree in a container and bring it indoors in cold months. With adequate light, a Lychee can also be grown indoors.

Does a Lychee Tree have to be Pruned?

It is not necessary to prune a Lychee Tree in order for it to produce fruit. However, it is suggested that Lychee trees be pruned once a year, after fruit has been picked, in order to create a sturdy branch structure. This will help the tree hold the large number of fruit, and help reduce wind damage.

How can I tell if a Lychee is ripe?

When Lychees are ripe, they turn a bright red. Individual fruit may ripen, while others are still in the process of maturing. Do a taste test, and you will quickly learn to spot ripe Lychees on your tree.