Potted lychee trees are not something you see often, but for many gardeners this is the only way to grow the tropical fruit tree. Growing lychee indoors isn’t easy and takes a lot of special care, warmth, and sunlight.
Growing Lychee in a Container
Lychee is a flowering and fruiting tree that can grow as tall as 30 to 40 feet (9-12 m.). It is native to southern China and needs a warm climate to grow; the lychee is only hardy to zones 10 and 11. The fruit, which is really a drupe, grows in clusters. Each one is a pink, bumpy shell encasing the edible part. The white, almost transparent interior is juicy and delicious.
Since lychee is a tropical tree, it isn’t an option for many gardens. However, although this tree can be quite large outdoors, it is possible to grow lychee in pots. You may be able to find a young tree at a nursery, but you can also start a tree from the seeds. Just save them from the fruit you eat and grow seedlings in a warm, moist location.
When ready, transfer your small tree to a larger container and provide all the right conditions to help it grow:
- Lots of water. Lychee needs plenty of water to thrive. Don’t lapse on watering your tree either. There is no winter dormant period for lychee, so keep watering it regularly year-round. Lychee also likes humid air, so spritz the leaves often.
- Ample sunlight. Make sure your lychee tree has a spot where it can get as much sunlight as possible. Rotate your container grown lychee to make sure it gets even light too.
- Acidic soil. For the best results, your tree needs soil that is acidic. A pH of between 5.0 and 5.5 is best. The soil should also drain well.
- Occasional fertilizer. Your tree will benefit from occasional light fertilizing. Use a weak liquid fertilizer.
- Warmth. Potted lychee trees really need to be kept warm. If you have a greenhouse, that is the best place for it in the colder months. If not, be sure you have a warm spot for it in the house.
Lychee is not the most ideal plant for an indoor container, and you may find that your tree never develops fruit. In order for fruiting to occur, it helps to allow the plant to spend spring and summer outdoors where proper pollination can take place. Just be sure to move the plant back inside prior to the return of cool temps.
Even if you don’t get fruit, as long as you give it the right conditions and take care of it, your container grown lychee will be a pretty indoor plant.