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How to grow lychees from seed

Updated February 21, 2017

Lychee is a fruit native to southern China. It is a round fruit, grown from a tree with delicate limbs and trunk. The leaves are large and leathery and divide themselves into eight leaflets. The fruit shell is spiky and red, with a white, delicate fruit inside. The seed inside the edible fruit portion varies in size between lychee fruit varieties. After removing a seed from a lychee fruit, it is only suitable to plant immediately. Leaving it out for more than a day will keep it from growing. Growing lychee seeds is difficult however, since many seeds do not grow. The tree will only produce fruit after a 5 to 10 year period as well, making growing lychee a true gardener's task.

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  1. Remove the pip from the inside a lychee fruit.

  2. Fill a pot with sterile potting soil. Water the soil so that the water comes out the bottom of the pot.

  3. Bury four or five lychee seeds in the soil and cover them with about a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) of soil.

  4. Place a plastic bag over the pot and attach it to the pot with a rubber band.

  5. Place the pot in a warm, dark place. Inspect the pot daily and moisten the soil if required. The seedling should sprout in two weeks.

  6. Remove the plastic bag once the plant sprouts and put it on a window sill with indirect sunlight.

  7. Remove the seedlings from the soil once they sprout three to four leaves, burying them outdoors at the same depth they were in the original pot.

  8. Move the lychee plant to a brighter area after three to four weeks. Water as soon as the soil looses moisture, adding a water soluble fertiliser to the water, according to the instructions on the package, every two weeks. The seedling will grow quickly until it reaches 17.5 to 20 cm (7 to 8 inches) in height. It will stay at this same height for the next two years with little noticeable growth.

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Things You'll Need

  • Lychee fruit
  • 8.7 cm (3 1/2 inch) pot
  • Potting soil
  • Plastic bag
  • Rubber band
  • Water-soluble fertiliser

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