How to Grow Rambutan

Updated March 23, 2017

Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum L.), a Malaysian native tree, is related to the lychee. Rambutan trees grow 50 to 80 feet tall and produce spiny fruit in various shades of red and orange. There is also a yellow variety. Rambutan thrives in tropical regions of the world. It requires an average temperature of 27.2 degrees Celsius, 82 per cent humidity and 71 inches of rain annually. Rambutan fruit can be peeled like an orange and eaten fresh or cooked and used in dessert dishes.

Grow the rambutan in a sunny, sheltered location out of high winds.

Amend the soil in the planting area with 3 inches of peat moss. Mix it to a depth of 8 inches and level the planting bed with the rake.

Plant the rambutan seed, 1-inch deep, with the flattened side pointing down. Water the bed to a depth of 4 inches, being careful not to wash the seed away. Keep the soil slightly moist at all times and the seed should germinate within three weeks. After germination, cut back watering to once every three days.

Provide the seedlings with shade on hot days. Palm fronds work well.

Spread a 3-inch layer of compost at the base of the rambutan and spread it out 1-foot beyond the dripline every two months.

Fertilise the young rambutan tree every two months. Alternate feedings using 142gr of 12-24-12 fertiliser at one application and the same amount of urea at the next. The mature rambutan should be given 0.907 Kilogram of ammonium sulphate and 0.907 Kilogram of 12-24-12 fertiliser after harvest and again at the end of the rainy season in your area. Apply the materials to the soil, 6 inches away from the trunk and spread out 1-foot beyond the dripline. Water the soil to a depth of 10 inches after fertilising.

Inspect the rambutan tree periodically for aphids. Although they can be washed off the tree with a strong blast of water from a hose, insecticidal soap sprays will work on large infestations. Follow the label instructions and apply at the rate suggested.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat moss
  • Hoe or gardening fork
  • Compost
  • Urea
  • Fertiliser
  • Ammonium sulphate
  • Insecticidal soap
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About the Author

Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at,,, RE/,,, and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.