How To Grow Lychee Tree Indoors: Lychee Fruit Growing Zone, Facts, Pics, Chart

Woman carrying home a lychee tree in a pot after learning how to identify lychee fruit tree indoors, types of lychee (litchi fruit), and how to plant and care for lychee trees, their growing zone and the season for harvest.

Native to Southern China and Asia, a Lychee Tree is not a particularly grandiose or ornamental type of tree, having an average height of 30 feet, a short, stocky trunk, and a dense canopy.

It is at times so big and heavy that it deforms its own branches and virtually hangs close to the ground underneath it.

To put it simply, the Lychee tree is not planted for its looks but for its fruits.

If you’ve ever tasted a lychee then you know how good they are.

And if you have never tried one, this complete guide can show you how to grow your very own Lychee Tree indoors or outdoors to satisfy your curiosity as well as your sweet tooth.

It also provides information about the best-growing zones for Lychee Trees to bear fruits, as well as interesting facts using pics and charts.

Lychee, Litchi

(Litchi chinensis)

Lychee Tree in oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Sapindaceae
  • Genus: Litchi
  • Leaf: Compound. It has a reddish hue when immature, and becomes green as it ages.
  • Bark: Grayish black and smooth
  • Seed: Large, smooth, and oblong
  • Blossoms: White, yellow, and green small flowers bloom between December to April.
  • Fruit: Round with sizes of 5cm x 4 cm
  • Native Habitat: Asia (South China and Malaysia)
  • Height: 20 to 40 feet
  • Canopy: 15 to 30 feet
  • Type: Evergreen
  • Native Growing Zone: Tropical or subtropical weather zones
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 10 to 11

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


Image Credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh21

Where Does Lychee Grow? (Lychee Tree Growing Zone)

Restricted to growing in tropical and subtropical climates, the small Lychee Tree has been cultivated in China for centuries, finally finding its way to the United States in the 1870s after the tasty fruit was discovered to be so sweet and delicious.

The trees are predominantly cultivated in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11 where the temperature never gets low enough to where the nights are frosty, and that means that Florida, California, and Hawaii have some of the best growing conditions for Lychee Tree in America where they can be grown.2

Although quite resilient, lychees prefer to exist in environments with hot and humid summers, cold but not freezing dry winters, and within a temperature range of 50°F to 82°F.

A prolonged drop in temperatures below 30°F can result in lasting damage specifically to young, unprotected Lychee Trees.

USDA Plant Growing Zone Map illustrating temperature and climate in different parts of the United States through 11 categories using color coding.

When it comes to the soil that the trees are rooted in, acidic is best.

As long as it is deep enough, the roots can be planted in dense clay soils, in neutral and slightly alkaline soils, and in soils that are quite sandy such as those found in some areas in Florida.11

In China, the trees are often located in areas that receive frequent flooding. But the roots will not tolerate being submerged in water for too long without suffering irreparable damage, so no matter the consistency of the soil, it has to be well draining.

Lychee Fruit Tree (Litchi chinensis): What Is Lychee (The Lychee Fruit)?

Very similar to mangoes, lychee is a tropical fruit and is classed as a drupe because of its large single seed just like peaches and plums.

The shape differs among the 50 lychee varieties from round to oval. Their sizes range from 1.0 to 1.5 inches (25 to 38 mm) in diameter and with the colors varying from yellow to pink to bright red.

Ripe lychee fruits on a small plate, two of them peeled showing the white edible flesh inside.

(Image: Atul Somani13)

The outer skin has small bumps over the surface that makes it feel kind of leathery and look a little bit like a larger version of a raspberry. This part cannot be eaten and needs to be peeled away much like the skin of an orange.

Inside, the pulp of the fruit, known as the aril, is almost opaque and translucent. It’s white and has a fragrant aroma of scented rose water, and a similarly unique sweet taste.

It is not as soft as it at first appears, being as firm as a grape and just as easy to pop in your mouth and enjoy. Be careful not to ingest the dark brown seed, so it should be removed if the fruit is to be added to a salad or a smoothie, or when making the Thai Banana-Lychee Dessert.

Lychee Tree Facts

Although lychees are as famous as apples in some parts of the world, in others it is simply known as an exotic fruit that would be interesting to try.

The reason why it isn’t on every supermarket shelf in every country is that it has a short shelf life of just 2 days when it’s stored at room temperature. If refrigerated, the time can be extended for up to 7 days whereas in its canned format, the lychees can last for about 18 months.

Eye-level shot of a full grown Lychee Tree, situated on a backyard, showing dense foliage with small red lychee fruits.

(Image: Forest and Kim Starr17)

The small enterprises in California and Florida that grow them are just that, small, and do not commercialize the product as much as it deserves, unfortunately.

Here are a few more interesting facts about the Lychee Tree:

  • Lychees were first cultivated in China over 2,000 years ago.
  • Each lychee fruit has around 6 calories and 1.5g of carbs.
  • Lychees are a good source of vitamins C, B, potassium, and magnesium.
  • There is a toxin in the unripe fruits that if eaten in sufficient quantities can cause hypoglycemia.8

How To Grow Lychee Tree Indoors (Lychee Tree Seeds)

Although you don’t see many Lychee Trees grown in containers, this is the only method that many gardeners find successful for cultivating this tropical fruit tree if where they live is not in the optimal temperature range.

Growing lychees indoors is a challenging task and not for the faint of heart, as they require a great deal of attention, a lot of watering, a lot of humidity, the right temperature, and a lot of sunlight.

Top shot of a lychee plant seedling in black pot.

(Image: Aniol18)

Purchasing a young tree from a nursery is going to be your best starting point rather than planting them from seed because if it is not planted within a few days of sourcing, it will dry out and not be viable.

A young plant will be much easier to nurture indoors, and concerns about when to plant Lychee Tree for the best yield become unimportant as you will be in control of the growing environment. Be aware, though, that it may not bear any fruits in this interior setting, but it will still make a nice houseplant.10

Repotting is going to be your first course of action with your new plant to increase the chances of having some fruits to harvest. Do this to make sure the soil is well-draining and acidic with a pH range between 5.0 and 5.5.

It may already be perfect from the soil, but changing it will give you control of the entire process from the beginning, and you can replant it into a larger container with good drainage holes at the same time.

Here are a few more planting tips for Lychee Tree indoor growing.

  • Either place the plant where it will bathe in sunlight for 6 hours a day or place it under a strong grow lamp
  • Water, water, water. The Lychee Tree is a thirsty plant and can’t get enough hydration but it doesn’t do well sitting in pools of it. That’s why the proper potting soil and drainage holes in the container are crucial when watering a tree so any excess water will seep away; the soil will naturally retain the amount of water that it needs for the roots.
  • Keep the zone around the plant damp by misting the leaves often. This will replicate a naturally humid climate. A plastic sheet can be draped over it as well to increase humidity. Just remember to air it occasionally to avoid any risk of mold growing.
  • Knowing how to grow a tree such as this species means understanding when to use fertilizer. For the young Lychee Tree, it is essential to apply a liquid fertilizer occasionally to replace any missing nutrients as it matures over the coming year.
  • Tree pollination will help the flowers and fruits to blossom, but you won’t encounter pollinators indoors.9 To attract them, move the container outside in the spring and summer where it may be properly pollinated. This increases the likelihood of fruiting. It is imperative that you bring the plant back inside before the temperature becomes too cold for it.
  • Repeat this process until the fruits finally appear, which can be anywhere from 3 to 5 years. And then they can be plucked and enjoyed every year after that.

With proper care, lychees can be grown successfully in pots within zones that are not as hot as 10 and 11. This is possible as long as the watering needs for the Lychee Tree plant are met and the grower understands how much sunlight does Lychee Tree need each day.

The Lychee Plant: How To Identify Lychee Tree, Lychee Tree Leaves, and The Lychee Tree Flower

With the ability to live for over 100 years, the Lychee Tree has leaves that appear tinged with red when immature but as the tree ages, it takes on the typical hue of evergreen leaves.

They seemingly grow on every inch of the branches as the canopy appears thick, dense, and very lush. Its foliage is only broken in the months of December to May when the flowers and fruits make an appearance.

Hundreds of male and female flowers are produced together in what is known as an inflorescence flower. Basically, this flowering system consists of a cluster of flowers that grow connected to branch-like structures that are attached to the main stem and resemble one flower but in reality, are a multitude of tiny flowers.

The blooms are tiny and can act as either males or females due to their lack of petals, an ability that assists the flowers enormously when it comes to propagation.

Lychee Tree identification chart showing a full grown Lychee Tree with average height range and Lychee Tree leaves, Lychee Tree flowers, Lychee Tree fruits, and Lychee Tree bark images along with their short descriptions.

In spring, the male flowers will open in two stages, the first being the real male flower and the second stage being the functional male flower. This is termed as being monoecious when both sexual parts are present in one flower.4

This is a two-step process because only the second male flower has stamens and a bi-carpellate pistil, while the first real flower only has stamens. In the world of flower reproduction, the female flowers will also have a bi-carpellate pistil and anywhere from six to ten staminodes.

Most of the pollen required to fertilize the female flowers comes from the final stage of the male blossoming process.

All this activity among hundreds of these inflorescences is necessary as they will ultimately bear anything from 5 to 80 sweet-tasting fruits.

Types of Lychee (Pics, Charts, and Information)

Having a relatively high level of humidity around the tree, while it is in bloom, is essential for fruit setting and for subsequent successful harvests.1

The regular watering needs for Lychee Tree plants are a crucial component for the health of the tree if the rainfall in the area is less than 50-60 inches or is sporadic throughout the seasons.

The key is to never let the soil dry out even if an extra watering schedule needs to be added into the rotation during drier-than-normal periods.

One of the failings of some Lychee Trees is that they cannot be grown with any certainty of a yearly harvest which makes them an unreliable crop for commercial farmers.

As a casual grower who is comfortable with harvesting the fruits of your labor as and when they grow, any one of the varieties below will suit you very well. With a little bit more research, you’ll discover that there are even more to choose from and, if you’re in the correct growing sphere, a few that can be planted in your very own mini orchard.

 No Mai Tze

Even with its erratic growing habit that makes it unpredictable as an economically viable produce, many people claim it has the best flavor because of its firmer and sweeter flesh and smaller seed.

Closeup of the No Mai Tze lychee variety showing their red bumpy skin.

(Image: Dinkun Chen14)

Chom Pogo

The advantage of planting this particular variety in your back garden is that the fruits stay ripe on the tree for weeks. Medium in size, the trees can be grown in containers so the fruits can be kept closer to the kitchen for quick access.

Closeup of Brewster litchi Tree showing a bunch of Brewster litchi fruits and green leaves hanging from thin branches.

(Image: Asit K. Ghosh15)


Somehow, Floridian farmers have managed to coax this variety into producing fruits every year whereas in the rest of the world, it is only once every other year. It is also slightly larger than other varieties and a tad sweeter.

 Erdon Lee

If you like to have more juice in your fruit, try this cultivar which is up to 4 times as big as other lychees. It may not be 4 times as tasty, but it’s best if you judge that for yourself.


The sheer delight that the taste of this lychee brings to the taste buds makes growing it almost worthwhile.12 It has a flavor similar to watermelon with a hint of pear juiced squeezed into the mix. The problem is that even at the best of times, the harvest is hit and miss despite using the best-growing practices.

Closeup of a bunch of red Kaimana lychees showing their spotted-like rough skin.


Cursed with an unpredictable growing habit, this cultivar is actively hunted down when it is available due to its deliciously natural taste.


This cultivar is widely grown from the island of Mauritius to the welcoming orchards in Florida. It is prized by growers for its exotic flavor, is easy to peel, and has a smaller than usual seed which is known as “chicken tongue.”

Closeup of Lychee Tree showing clusters of Mauritius lychee fruits hanging from thin branches with dark green leaves in the background.

(Image: Malcolm Manners16)

 Sweet Cliff

This variety with unusual pink flesh that is hidden under the even more unusual pink checkered skin is not widely consumed. Not because it looks unappetizing, but because this tiny lychee only grows every two years so it’s not commercially available.


The Sweetheart Lychee is definitely one of the best and most commercially grown. With a consistent harvest and a distinctive heart-shaped exterior, the Sweetheart is aptly named and the plant, as well as the delicious fruits, are much sought-after in Florida.

 Hak Ip

A specific pink and yellow coloration separates this cultivar from the bunch. It is also quite large which means there is more to enjoy once the skin has been peeled away.


This is the largest of all lychee varieties, hence the name, and can grow to be as big as or even larger than a golf ball. Unfortunately, it can take as long as four years to bear any fruit.

Emperor lychees with some of them cut open to reveal the flesh and seed on white background.

How To Grow Lychee and Lychee Tree Growth Rate

You might ask, “How long does it take for a tree to grow?” Well, it depends.

Growing a Lychee Tree from a seed is not the best method of growing a Lychee Tree. It can take weeks for the seeds to sprout after soaking them in water for a few days and sowing them in potting soil.

The fruits will be different from the parent tree and will take over 5 years before they will be ready for harvesting.

So, if how long it takes to grow Lychee Tree is a concern, or if you’re just impatient, growing a Lychee Tree from a cutting or growing a Lychee Tree from a seedling will yield a more accurate copy of the fruit.

Also, the time to the first harvest will be reduced to between 3-4 years.

Graphics of Lychee Tree growth chart showing sapling to full grown images of the Lychee Tree with height range based on age.

Supermarkets and hyper stores would not be happy if the fruits they were buying from a farmer differed from one delivery to the next. So, commercial growers prefer to use a technique called air layering to ensure that the crops they are harvesting and selling to their regular consumers have the exact taste profiles.5

Air layering is similar to growing from a cutting but instead of snipping a section from a branch and inserting it into a potting mix for the roots to sprout, this propagation method encourages the roots to emerge from the true parent plant.

And this technique will work with all other species of trees in the world.

So how does air layering work?

  1. First, choose the right branch in the spring on an immature tree that is between 1-2 years old only
  2. Clear away any leaves from a straight section about 1 foot long
  3. Remove that section of the bark by using a sterile cutting tool to score two deep lines at the measured distance. Score another line down the center between them and peel it away to reveal the inner bark
  4. Brush with a rooting hormone
  5. Take a handful of moist sphagnum moss and place a lump of it over the exposed area
  6. Wrap completely but loosely with a sheet of black plastic so it has room to expand, but seal both ends tightly with tape to prevent it from becoming dislodged
  7. Check frequently for any sign of the shoots but it can take up to a year for them to make an appearance
  8. When the roots have sprouted, remove the plastic and sever the branch just below them
  9. It can then be planted in a container filled with potting soil and followed up with a dose of water and some Lychee plant care before it can be moved outside

Air layering is an efficient propagation method for some of your plants that do not root easily, or if you want your tree to produce fruits faster. Plus, there is no restriction on how many can be affixed to donor plants in an orchard at any one time.

Lychee Tree Disease Prevention and Control

How to stop Lychee Tree disease before it can destroy your crops or damage the tree itself is the goal of every farmer, casual or commercial.

The problem with any form of plant disease is that even if it proves not to be deadly, it can severely impact the yield, reduce the quality, and weaken the plant. And a weakened plant is susceptible to further infections.

Closeup of a Lychee Tree with leaves plagued by Erinose mites showing browning and wilting leaves.

(Image: Forest and Kim Starr19)

The majority of them are caused by fungi, and recognizing them early is the key to fighting them off before any real harm can be inflicted.

Some of the most common fungal problems are:

  • Anthracnose: Tiny circular dark-brown to black sunken lesions that appear on mature fruits on trees and shrubs, ruining their ability to be sold.7 Marred fruits should be removed to stop the risk of the infection spreading.
  • Leaf blight: The tips of the leaves wither and turn brown as necrosis sets in, and although not fatal to the tree, it can weaken it. A copper spray will keep it in check.
  • Fusarium solani fungus: Seeing evergreen leaves turning yellow and drooping is a clear sign that this fungus is present. Using neem cake will keep it under control or effective treatments can be purchased from a store to soak the soil around the base of the tree.
  • Aspergillus fungus: Caused by decaying organic materials in the soil or around the base of the Lychee Tree, it rots the fruits from the inside out and is recognizable by the unpleasant overripe odor. A natural and easy treatment is mulching around trees, as in you can try to spread cornmeal mixed with bark around them to prevent this from happening.

Experienced farmers use lime sulfur before the lychees bloom as a preventative measure to ward off the possibility of infectious diseases.

Common Pests of the Lychee Tree

Just as unwanted diseases can be detrimental to the health of your Lychee Tree, so can unwanted pests.

A cluster of fruits hanging on a Lychee Tree are all split open and feasted on by pests.

(Image: Asit K. Ghosh20)

Below are the common pests of the Lychee Tree:

  • Lychee Erinose Mite: Too small to be seen without a microscope, the minuscule lychee erinose mite can cause significant damage to the tree itself, its fruit, and its flowers from the abnormal growths it leaves in its wake.3 A spray bottle filled with either insecticidal soap or neem oil mixed with water will get rid of them.
  • Fruit-piercing moths: The problem with these types of moths is that they literally suck the juice out of your fruits and after that, they are good for nothing. Worse still, the pinprick holes they make are a gateway for fungal infections.
    Covering the trees is an effective method to keep them at bay as is harvesting the fruits early before they make an appearance.
  • Caterpillars: These pests are the bane of gardeners as their appetites are so prodigious that they can munch through all the leaves on the dense canopy of a Lychee Tree in no time at all. Fortunately, natural pest control for Lychee Tree involves predators like wasps, spiders, and some types of birds who enjoy feasting on them just as much as they like leaves. To attract them, consider planting companion plants for growing Lychee Tree.

If they’re not doing a good enough job, you can either pick them off one by one and dunk them in a bucket of soapy water, spray them with neem oil, or apply Bacillus thuringiensis specifically designed to kill them off.

Always keep an eye out for discoloration of leaves or injury on fruits which are symptoms of invasive pests that are assaulting your plant in secret. Once caught in the act, employ the appropriate treatment to eradicate them as soon as possible.

How To Grow Lychee Tree Indoors and Outdoors (Care Tips)

How do Lychees grow fruits in a container inside or in the ground will be reliant on the care you give it, and the care you practice around it.

Accidents happen on occasion to the trunks of Lychee Trees in residential landscapes from lawnmower crashes and weed whackers damaging the bark.

To avoid these potential catastrophes that can weaken the tree and open avenues for diseases or pests to march in, keep a bare patch of ground about 2-5 feet around the base at all times.

Creating a circular feature from mulch will help in maintaining that distance from the tree’s base at all times to prevent lawnmowers from getting too close.

Moreover, spreading a layer of organic mulch around the tree will help to prevent the soil from drying out prematurely, and stop weeds from growing which deplete water reserves quickly.

Be mindful of interior Lychee Trees or the larger garden variety when fertilizing or watering. Too much of either is not good as it can result in root rot or leaf browning, yet neither is too little as this can lead to nutrient deficiencies. To that end, the inclusion of good compost would be beneficial.

The key is to monitor the plant for any signs of distress and then react accordingly to bring it back to health.

Repotting of houseplants will need to be done about every 2 years as the roots grow.6 Sooner is unlikely as Lychee Trees are slow-growers.

What you may have to do for inside plants to achieve a height of no more than 15 feet is to aggressively cut back the trunks every year. This will not harm the tree but it will encourage it to grow an even bushier canopy.

Are you wondering, “How far apart to plant Lychee Tree?” It’s simple, these types of trees that have large canopies require a distance of about 30 feet between them.

In the backyard, pruning is only really needed at the end of fruiting branches. Farmers snip off the ends of these productive limbs which may seem contradictory but they do it to boost growth and to get an even better harvest the following year.

Every few years, they may severely cut back the heights of some of the trees down to 15 or even 10 feet. This is done to reinvigorate the tree and extend its productive years by allowing the lower branches to have more direct access to the sun and not be smothered by the thick foliage above them.

By following a few simple steps, learning how to grow Lychee Tree indoors or outdoors can be an educational experience with a nice tasty reward waiting at the end of the journey.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lychee Tree

How Long Does It Take for a Tree To Grow Litchi Fruit?

It will take about 5 years for the first fruits to appear but about 10 before the Lychee Tree is producing to its fullest capability.

What Are the Growing Zones for Lychee Tree? Where To Grow in the United States?

States that are in USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11 are the best areas for growing these types of evergreen trees in America.

Do Trees Have Genders?

If you find yourself wondering, “Do trees have genders?” Here’s your answer: No, they do not, but their flowers do.

When Is Lychee Season in Florida?

Fruit trees in Florida grow differently in various growing zones. The lychee fruit season in this state, which has parts of it in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11, runs from May to the end of summer.

Litchi vs Lychee, What's the Difference?

Litchi and lychee refer to the same fruit and have no significant difference. Aside from Litchi referring to the fruit, it is also used as the genus in its scientific name.


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14Lychee from Zhanjiang, Guangdong, China Photo by Dinkun Chen / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <,_GUANGDONG,_CHINA_(2).jpg>

15Brewster Lychee (Litchi chinensis / Sapindaceae) growing in a tree in Merritt Island, Florida Photo by Asit K. Ghosh / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

16Mauritius’ lychee (Litchi chinensis) Photo by Malcolm Manners / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) . Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

17Litchi chinensis fruiting habit at Haiku, Maui, Hawaii. Photo by Forest and Kim Starr / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

18Lychee seedling growth. Photo by Aniol / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

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20Lychee Mauritius04 Asit Photo by Asit K. Ghosh / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

21Fruits On The Tree Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh. (2021, February 19) / Pexels License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Pexels. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from <>