The lychee is a fruit tree of the Salidae family. The plant is referred to in the literature as a lychee or litchi. It is native to southeast China, Guangdong and Fujian provinces. The lychee grows and bears fruit in a natural environment in a subtropical climate with dry and relatively cool winters. Closer to the equator, where the humidity is higher, it no longer bears fruit. In temperate latitudes litchi is grown in greenhouses, where it begins to bear fruit after reaching the age of 10 years. Due to its shade tolerance in room conditions, if an optimal microclimate is created, lychee becomes an exotic “decoration” of the interior.
A brief description of the litchi
It grows in the wild near rivers and lakes. The tree can grow to a height of 10-30 m in natural conditions. The crown is formed by densely pubescent shoots with intensive branching. Elongated leaf laminae are colored green. During fruiting red fruits, similar in size to plums, stand out against their background. The maximum length is 4 cm and the weight is 20 grams.
Under the skin with numerous pointed tubercles there is a light, jelly-like pulp, which has a pleasant fragrance and a sweet and slightly astringent taste. The crop is a stone fruit. The flesh from the dark brown pit is easily separated. In suitable climates, litchi fruit-bearing occurs in late spring and early summer.
The easiest way to have an exotic plant on your windowsill is to grow lychee from a seed. Ripe fruits are chosen for sowing. They must meet the following parameters:
In our opinion you should not use damaged fruits, since they might break the integrity of the seed’s shell. The latter is extracted very carefully so as not to damage. To sprout earlier, the seeds should be germinated: the pips should be wrapped in wet gauze and left for 7 days, moistening with water when drying.
Preparing the soil and pot
Lychee grows on light soils with a neutral reaction. The optimal pH value is 6.0 units. For normal growth of culture, the soil structure should be porous and easily permeable to water, air. Substrate with such characteristics can be purchased ready-made in a specialized store. If you have sod soil and peat at hand, you can make a soil mixture yourself: it is enough to mix the components in equal proportions. The soil, prepared with your own hands, must be decontaminated.In our opinion, each method is effective:
Oven hardening – 20 minutes at 200 °C.
Soil steaming – steaming in a steam bath for 25 to 30 minutes.
Putting it in the microwave for 10 minutes at maximum power.
Pots made of clay or ceramic are suitable for sowing lychee seeds. You shouldn’t choose plastic as it doesn’t let the air in, so necessary for the culture seeds for normal germination and further development. To prevent the soil from getting soggy, preference should be given to shallow pots. The maximum diameter of the pot should be 7-8 cm. An important nuance – the presence of drainage holes at the bottom. Unlike plastic dishes, you can’t make them yourself in ceramic ones.
Technology for baking the litchi seedlings
When all the preparatory work is complete, proceed to sowing.Sequence of action:
At the bottom of the pot pour expanded clay or lay broken bricks. Materials will act as drainage.
Fill the top with soil.
In it make a small depression, lay out the seeds. It is better to use 2-3 pcs at once.
Sprinkle with soil and moisten with a sprayer. This way the seeds won’t get washed out and the soil above them will retain its high aeration qualities.
The pot is covered with glass and moved to a warm place with a temperature of 25-30 ° C. Remove the glass regularly to ventilate and, if necessary, moisten the soil. Overwatering is also not allowed, it can provoke the appearance of mold. If the litchi is created in greenhouse conditions, sprouts will appear 1.5-2 weeks after sowing. According to the results of observations, sometimes you can see the sprouts only after a month. As soon as the seedlings appear, the glass is removed. The seedlings don’t need to be covered. From the seedlings that appeared in one pot, choose the strongest one, and the rest are removed.
Conditions for growing lychees
Although litchi does not mind shade, it needs a lot of light for photosynthesis to occur quickly. The optimum duration of the light day – 12-15 hours. Set the pot on a window sill near the eastern and western windows. It is also acceptable to place the plant on the south side, but provided that on summer days during lunch hours the windows will be curtained, protecting the delicate shoots from direct sunlight.
A tropical plant thrives well at high temperatures. If before the emergence of seedlings, the optimum indicator is about 30 ° C, then it is acceptable to lower the values to 25 ° C. The minimum critical point is 20 ° C.
Although lychee does not fructify in humid equatorial climates, dry air is more destructive for it. The optimal humidity level is 70-80%. To maintain it, the plant is sprayed daily with water at room temperature. During hot periods, the procedure is carried out twice a day – in the morning and in the evening. If the pot is on a window sill with a radiator underneath, place a container with water next to the litchi in winter to keep the air from getting too dry.
How to take care of an exotic plant
Lychee is a representative of tropical flora. In our opinion, its origin influences the technology of cultivation.
Lychee – a moisture-loving crop. But watering should be moderate, so as not to allow liquid to stagnate in the roots. Otherwise, the development of fungal diseases is possible. The frequency of water procedures and the amount of watering depends largely on the state of the soil. The signal to action is the drying of the soil surface by 2 cm.
Filtered or settled water is used. The latter option, in our opinion, is better, since such water contains important compounds for the crop. So that the roots are not affected by low temperatures, water is used at room temperature or slightly heated.
Fertilizing and fertilizer
After the emergence of seedlings begin to feed only after 3 months, when photosynthesis processes are activated. Use nitrogen-containing fertilizers, stimulating the development of roots, the growth of shoots. Before the plant reaches 1 year old, one feeding is enough, because the organs are still underdeveloped and can not quickly absorb macro- and micronutrients from the soil.
When the plant reaches 1 year, fertilize it with an interval of a month or two weeks, which depends on the phase of vegetation. With active growth, fertilize twice a month, and from the onset of autumn to spring, one fertilizer per period is enough. Use complex mineral fertilizers in liquid form and organics. The most effective is to alternate. Of organics, a solution of cowpea (1 : 15) and wood ash are preferred. The first fertilizer is rich in nitrogen, and the second – phosphorus and potassium.
Transplant the culture in the spring. In years of active growth – up to 5 years – the procedure is carried out every spring. Litchi transplanted by the method of transplanting in a larger container. The requirements to the pot and soil do not change. When the plant passes the age threshold of 5 years, it is enough to renew the topsoil annually. And it can be replanted at intervals of 3 years.
Because the culture is a slow growing plant, it does not require frequent pruning. In the first years of development, form the crown, then carry out only sanitary pruning, maintaining the health and decorativeness of the culture. During the procedure, cut off damaged shoots, shorten excessively long branches. If necessary, give the desired shape (if pruning has not been done for a long time).
Protection against diseases and pests
Exotic culture has excellent immunity. They are only attacked by pathogens if the plant is not kept and maintained properly. For example, if the lychee suffers from a lack of moisture, the leaves begin to gradually turn yellow and fall off. And with excessive watering, there is a great risk of root rot development. The only way to get rid of it will be to transplant the plant into a fresh substrate with a preliminary inspection of the roots and removal of diseased areas.
On a side note!After transplanting, the plant must be sprayed with fungicide.
Pests also rarely attack the exotic culture. Often they get on the shoots from neighboring plants, when they do not observe quarantine and install the infested specimens from the store next to other indoor flowers.
The most common pests are aphids and spider mites. They feed on the sap of the plants and can cause serious ornamental damage if they are not promptly removed. Soap solution is effective in the fight against them – in the early stages of infestation. Getting on the insects, it does not allow them to breathe, they die. With numerous colonies only an insecticide will help, which is sprayed on the plant strictly according to the instructions on the package. Treatment should preferably be done in the fresh air, as chemical agents are toxic.
Lychee – a representative of tropical flora. But it adapts well at home. It is enough to create a suitable microclimate and not to forget to control the development of the plant by timely watering, feeding and strengthening the immunity.