Tropical Fruit at a Glance–Lychee
by Jeff Wasielewski, Laura Vasquez and Jonathan H. Crane
Common name: Lychee
Botanical name: Litchi chinensis
Good varieties: Mauritius, Brewster, Sweetheart, Emperor
About the fruit: The lychee is colored bright red and has sweet, textured pulp surrounding a single seed. The fruit is eaten fresh, as well as in ice cream, sorbet and canned.
Season: Main season is June through July.
Why you should consider it: The tree is a handsome addition to a landscape and the wood is very dense. The fruit flavor is quite pleasant and readily enjoyed in season.
Be aware: The lychee is now under attack from the lychee erinose mite, a serious pest that is very difficult to control. The pest affects the leaves, bloom, and fruit. The blooms are sometimes damaged by the lychee webworm. The tree also needs a number of chill hours to bloom well. Mauritius seems to be the most consistent fruiter.
Pruning: The lychee can be difficult to prune as it tends to have a large amount of upright growth. Remove strong verticals and encourage lateral growth.
Planting: Make sure not to plant too deep. Dig the hole bigger than the container but refill the hole with the native soil so the plant’s first flare root is at or just above ground level. Protect the tree from mechanical damage (string trimmers and mowers).
Fertilizer: Use a fertilizer with very low nitrogen and high potassium two to three times during the rainy season (May to October). Drench with chelated iron (EDDHA) and use a micro-element foliar spray two to three times from May to October.
For more information see: Lychee growing in the Florida home landscape.