How to Plant, Grow and Care For Rambutan Trees

If you happen to dwell within the US or Europe, you could be questioning what on earth a rambutan tree is. It’s a heat-loving tropical plant that should develop in USDA hardiness zone 10 or larger, so lots of you might solely have the ability to purchase them on-line or in specialty farmers’ markets. They’re associated to lychees and develop hairy-looking fruits that you simply peel to disclose candy flesh that’s so much like grapes. Yum!

When you might by no means develop a rambutan tree in your yard within the majority of the US, you may give it a attempt in a climate-controlled greenhouse. This tree loves heat climate and plenty of humidity, so that you’ll want a moist surroundings for it to develop in or for it to bear fruit.

If you happen to dwell within the excellent rambutan local weather or need to attempt your luck with some tropical fruits, learn the next information to rising this distinctive tree.

Fast Care Information

Frequent Identify(s) Rambutan, bushy lychee
Scientific Identify Nephelium lappaceum
Days to Harvest 100-120
Mild Full solar or 13 hours of partial shade
Water Preserve soil moist
Soil Properly-draining loamy soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5
Fertilizer Heavy fertilizer wants that modify all year long
Pests Bats, birds, oriental fruit fly, inexperienced weevils, leaf-footed bugs, leaf miners, lychee big stink bugs, mango twig borers, mealybugs
Ailments Powdery mildew, stem canker

All About The Rambutan Tree

The rambutan tree originated from southeast Asia, it’s recognized for its candy and tangy fruit.

The rambutan tree (Nephelium lappaceum) originates from southeast Asia and will be discovered within the coastal lowlands of China, Thailand, Vietnam, and different surrounding international locations at sea stage. Temperatures beneath 50°F can kill the tree, so it’s no marvel why it’s thought-about to be so unique in Western international locations! It has since unfold to southern Mexico and Central America, particularly in Costa Rica.

Rambutan fruit is usually referred to as bushy lychee due to its related look to lychee. (In any case, they are closely-related cousins coming from the Sapindaceae household.) The mushy spines create a bushy look, however the pores and skin is crimson, and the flesh is white, similar to lychee. The style is good with a little bit of a tang, very similar to grapes or strawberries.

When these timber are grown within the excellent habitat, their spreading crown can vary from 32-82 toes tall! Rising them in a medium-sized to small pot in a greenhouse will probably lead to a smaller tree, however you’ll nonetheless have the ability to get scrumptious fruit. 

The tree has shiny inexperienced leaves with a barely leathery really feel that may typically be yellow-green. Though the fruit is usually crimson and white, the surface can typically look orange or yellow, and the within might often be pale pink.

After peeling the fruit, they are often eaten uncooked or cooked and canned in syrup. They’re typically extraordinarily candy and will be loved as a dessert, however they’re filled with vitamin C. The roots and bark are sometimes utilized in pure drugs, and the seed oils can be utilized to make candles and cleaning soap. Silk will be dyed inexperienced with younger tree shoots.

The Malay phrase rambut interprets to hair in English, and the title, Rambutan refers back to the bushy look of the fruits. These fruits seem after budded timber flower. Flowering happens on male timber, feminine timber, or hermaphroditic timber in spring via summer time and once more in late summer time via fall. The flowers are pollinated by ants and bees.  

Planting Rambutan

Rambutan seedling is ready for planting in the soil. Top view, close-up of a young rambutan seedling with an upright, tall, narrow grey-brown trunk and large pinnate leaves composed of large, oval, glossy green leaflets. The seedling is planted in a black planting bag.
Beginning a rambutan tree from seed requires a managed rising surroundings.

The simplest option to get a rambutan tree rising is to begin from seed indoors in a container. They require TLC from each single seed to transplant, so holding them in a managed surroundings will probably be the easiest way to extend your probability of success.

Rambutan seeds are solely viable for as much as one week after being harvested, so that you’ll must act quick when you get your seed. Take away the fruit from the seed and let it dry fully.

Place the seed in sandy, loamy soil with good drainage. Despite the fact that rambutans like humidity and plenty of water, there’s nonetheless such a factor as an excessive amount of water, particularly once they’re younger.

Planting rambutan timber isn’t a lot totally different than planting different fruit timber.

Cowl the seed with a light-weight layer of soil and water it properly. Ensure that the soil stays moist however not moist, and hold the seed beneath a develop mild. It may possibly take 10-21 days for it to sprout, so don’t fear if it takes some time.

As soon as the tree sprouts, hold it indoors with moist soil and plenty of mild. It gained’t be prepared to maneuver outdoors till it’s about 1 foot tall in about 2 years and gained’t produce fruit till it’s 4 or 5 years previous.

You possibly can plant the seed any time of yr when you’re rising it indoors, and when it’s time to transplant, you are able to do so in early spring.

Caring for a Rambutan Tree

A rambutan plant wants a number of care, particularly when you’re making an attempt to develop it in a cooler zone than it likes. Let’s check out what this fruit tree must thrive.

Solar and Temperature

View from below, close-up of ripe fruits on a Rambutan tree branch in a sunny garden. The fruits are collected in clusters, they are small, rounded, covered with red skin with thin long green spines.
To develop rambutan, full solar and constant temperatures over 60°F are obligatory.

If you happen to can present full solar and temperatures over 60°F all yr lengthy, you may develop rambutan with only a few issues. If full solar isn’t an choice, it may possibly make do with 13 hours of partial solar, which means that it will get somewhat solar each hour for 13 hours. You will have to plug in some develop lights to realize this.

Rambutan can develop in USDA zones 10 or hotter, so the one locations within the US you may develop them outdoors are Hawaii and the southernmost components of Florida, Texas, and California.

If you wish to develop it in a greenhouse, you’ll most likely want one that can assist you to management the temperature and humidity to create a rambutan “oasis.” Goal for a minimum of 60°F. Whereas timber can survive at 50 levels or hotter, they won’t be blissful, and at 46 levels, they will begin to lose leaves. At 39 levels, extreme harm will happen to your plant, so it’s actually greatest to maintain the temperatures above 50 when doable!

Water and Humidity

Close-up of the leaves of the Rambutan tree covered with water drops. The leaves are large, oval, smooth, glossy green.
Rambutan wants excessive humidity ranges and requires a minimum of an inch of water per week.

These of you in a dry surroundings will definitely want a greenhouse, because the prime humidity vary is 75-80%. Rambutans desire a year-round wet season of their native local weather, and so they’re going to need you to supply that for them too!

Regardless of all that humidity, it’ll want a minimum of an inch of water every week to maintain the soil moist, and certain extra. If you happen to’re rising outside, you most likely gained’t should water it if it rained not too long ago or when you’re in a wet season. However these of you rising them indoors might want to keep on high of your watering schedule.

It’s higher to water rambutans somewhat bit a number of instances as an alternative of 1 deep water, so you might must water twice per week in some circumstances.

It’s greatest to water within the morning on the base of your tree so the roots can absorb the water earlier than the solar begins to evaporate it.


Close-up of a small sprout of the Rambutan plant in the garden, among dark brown fertile soil. The sprout has a short and thin stem with three pairs of oval, dark green, glossy leaves.
Rambutan prefers well-draining, sandy loam or clay loam soil with a barely acidic pH.

Properly-draining soil is vital so the roots don’t get too moist, so select a sandy loam or clay loam soil to ensure extra water can run off. Rambutan like a barely acidic soil excessive in natural matter with a pH of 5.5-6.5.

If you happen to’re rising outside, you’ll want a depth of 6-9 toes of soil for the reason that tree grows deep roots. If you happen to’re rising indoors, permit your plant as a lot depth as doable in a big container. Container timber gained’t attain the huge dimension of outside timber, although, in order that they probably gained’t have that huge of a root system.


Close-up of a male hand in a white glove with a handful of Granulated mineral fertilizers on a blurred gray background. Fertilizers consist of many tiny granules of a rounded shape in a light gray color.
Fertilization requires particular strategies, comparable to yearly utility of urea, phosphate, and potash.

Fertilizing rambutans could be a bit difficult, as there are other ways you may go about it, however every technique is restricted.

You possibly can go for a yearly utility the place you give it 60g of urea, 115g phosphate, and 55g potash for the primary yr. As soon as it’s two years previous, improve the quantity to 180g urea, 345g phosphate, and 165g potash. Starting on the three-year mark, give your tree 300g urea, 575g phosphate, and 275g potash each six months.

One other technique for mature fruiting timber is to make use of general-purpose water-soluble fertilizer all year long.

Give it a 15-30-15 fertilizer within the winter months earlier than it begins fruiting to advertise fruit, a 20-10-30 after it flowers to assist the setting fruit, and a 20-20-20 fertilizer 1-2 weeks after you’re completed choosing fruit to assist it get well and develop extra fruit subsequent yr.

Pruning Your Rambutan Tree

Pruning a Rambutan tree branch in the garden. Close-up of a woman's hand with red secateurs cutting dry tree branches. The tree has large, oval, glossy green leaves and clusters of small, round fruits with a hard green skin covered with many long spines.
Prune rambutan timber to maintain them wholesome by eradicating lifeless or diseased branches.

Rambutans will solely want pruning to maintain them wholesome. Whereas the tree isn’t fruiting, take away lifeless or diseased branches and any branches that look unkempt when you’d wish to form it. Watch out to solely take away older development whereas it’s not flowering so that you gained’t lose any fruit.

If you happen to’re rising a tree in a greenhouse, you may prune a younger tree to maintain it compact. Whereas the tree is dormant within the early winter, lower a 45-degree angle at about knee peak. Doing it will encourage it to maintain a small development behavior, which is ideal you probably have a smaller greenhouse.

Rambutan Propagation

Close-up of Rambutan grafting. Rambutan grafting is a horticultural method in which a branch or bud of a desired variety of rambutan is attached to the rootstock of another but compatible rambutan tree. Close-up of a branch with a tie-down plastic bag with red ropes of fertile soil for the development of roots.
The rambutan tree will be propagated by seeds, budding, grafting, and air-layering.

Rising rambutans from a single Nephelium lappaceum seed is a protracted and considerably tough course of, but when you could find seeds that germinate properly, it’s definitely an choice for propagation. That is additionally the simplest option to make extra timber when you solely have one.

Budding is if you take the flower bud of 1 plant and graft it onto one other. This can solely work if you have already got two or three timber, although, so it will not be probably the most possible selection. Grafting is one other selection, however it’ll additionally embrace two timber. Grafting is much like budding, besides it entails branches and reducing them to suit onto current timber.

A 3rd choice is air layering (proven above), whereby you persuade a younger stem to develop roots. This technique lets you begin a propagation on a residing department on the tree, then later lower and take away it under the world the place it has developed roots and plant the brand new begin.

Harvesting and Storing

Rambutan fruit (referred to as rambut, the Malay phrase for hair) is greatest eaten contemporary, so you might not have any left to retailer after you harvest them! However simply in case you may have some additional, we’ll cowl how one can save your contemporary fruit.

Harvesting Rambutans

Close-up of a gardener harvesting Rambutan fruit with a special gardening tool to pull branches. The gardener is dressed in a gray longsleeve. The Rambutan tree has large, feathery dark green leaves with large oval leaflets. The tree produces clusters of small round fruits covered with red or orange prickly skins.
To reap ripe rambutan fruit, lower the stems the fruit are hanging onto when the fruit is usually crimson and agency.

Rambutan fruit is able to harvest when the fruit is usually crimson and agency and 1 inch in diameter. The tree gained’t type all of the fruit without delay, so that you’ll want to reap 2-3 instances per week whereas it’s fruiting.

Use a knife or backyard shears to chop the stems the fruit is hanging onto. Go away the fruit connected to a stem to scale back the danger of damaging them. A standard technique for harvesting fruit from tall timber is to connect a knife and a basket to the tip of a protracted pole so the fruit will drop into the basket.

Storing Rambutans

Close-up of a gardener holding a small wooden box with freshly picked Rambutan fruits. The gardener is dressed in a red and black checkered shirt, blue and gray apron and white gloves. The fruits are small, round, covered with a thick prickly red skin.
To protect rambutan, hold them of their pores and skin till able to eat, retailer them within the fridge or freeze them.

Preserve the fruit within the pores and skin till you’re able to eat it to protect the flesh inside. They’ll keep contemporary on the counter for as much as 2 days, or you may retailer them within the fridge for as much as 2 weeks in a container or plastic bag. Many individuals love chilly rambutan, so this may occasionally find yourself being your favourite technique!

If you happen to harvested extra rambutan than you may eat, you may retailer them in a freezer bag for about 3 months. Lay them out on a baking sheet and freeze them.

As soon as they’re absolutely frozen, you may switch them right into a freezer bag. Utilizing a baking sheet first will forestall them from clumping into one huge rambutan ice block. Freezing them with out the skins is an choice, however leaving the skins on will give them an additional layer of safety.

You can too prepare dinner them right into a syrup and might them for some tremendous candy rambutan preserves. These are filled with sweetness and Vitamin C. 


There are a handful of issues that would develop unsuitable (pun supposed), together with a couple of pests and illnesses, so it’s good to know what to anticipate beforehand. Let’s check out how one can forestall pests and different issues.

Rising Issues

Close-up of rambutan leaves which are lacking in nutrients. The leaves are large, glossy, dark green, oval with brown ragged edges.
To make sure wholesome rambutan timber, it’s essential to keep up acceptable water, daylight, and temperature.

Rambutan timber don’t have a variety of rising issues, however water, daylight, and temperature are certain to be issues when you dwell in zone 9 or under.

Do not forget that these timber want ideally 60°F temperatures to remain wholesome and can start to say no in decrease temperatures. They want loads of water however don’t permit the roots to take a seat in puddles. Use develop lights to permit as a lot solar as doable.

In case your tree is struggling, monitor the temperature and pay attention to how a lot solar and water it’s getting to find out what the problem is. They’re heavy feeders and wish a variety of fertilizer, in order that they might be missing vitamins in the event that they’re rising slowly or not producing fruit.


Close-up of mealybug-infested Rambutan fruit. A bunch of small rounded fruits with a leathery brown dry skin with long thorns are attacked by mealybugs pests. Mealybugs are small insects with oval soft bodies covered with a white waxy coating.
Shield rambutans from birds and bats, and management pests comparable to weevils, bugs, and mealybugs.

There are a number of critters which might be out to get your rambutans, and birds and bats are one in every of them! They wish to eat the fruit whereas they’re within the timber, so you may cowl fruit with small organza drawstring baggage or apply kaolin clay to maintain them away. Many gardeners grasp reflective decor of their timber to maintain birds at bay.

Many pests will trigger harm to the darkish inexperienced leaves by consuming leaf tissue or sucking sap. Pests that like rambutan embrace inexperienced weevils, leaf-footed bugs, lychee big stink bugs, leaf miners, and mealybugs. Washing them off with water is a straightforward option to eliminate them, however you can too use neem oil to suffocate them or use pesticides for every type of pest to kill them.

Oriental fruit flies go after ripe fruits, and mango twig borers go after growing fruits. Organza baggage will hold twig borers away, and you’ll want to harvest as quickly as they’re prepared to forestall flies.


Close-up of an infested branch of a Rambutan tree with powdery mildew, against a blurred background in a sunny garden. The fruits are small, rounded, covered with prickly green skin with a powdery coating.
Fungal illnesses comparable to powdery mildew and stem canker might have an effect on rambutan timber.

There aren’t many illness points with rambutan timber, however you might discover powdery mildew and stem canker to be issues.

Each of those are fungal points that may be prevented with fungicides. Sadly, these illnesses don’t have a remedy, so that you’ll must take away contaminated crops. You possibly can attempt eradicating solely the contaminated portion of the plant to see if it can save you what’s left.

Often Requested Questions

Q: Are you able to develop rambutan within the US?

A: You possibly can develop rambutan outdoors in USDA zones 10 and up or in greenhouses in cooler climates.

Q: How lengthy does it take for a rambutan tree to bear fruit?

A: A rambutan gained’t produce fruit till it’s 4-5 years previous.

Q: The place do rambutan timber develop?

A: Rambutan timber are native to jap Asia.

Q: How tall do rambutan timber develop?

A: Full-sized timber can develop 32-82 toes tall however will probably be a lot smaller when grown in a medium-sized to small pot.

Q: Are lychee and rambutan the identical?

A: They’re not the identical, however they’re related! They each come from the identical household, Sapindaceae.

Q: What’s the life span of rambutan?

A: Rambutan often fruits for 15-20 years, though in some circumstances, they will final for 60 years.

Q: Are rambutan self pollinating?

A: Rambutan timber have to be cross-pollinated. Nonetheless, some timber are hermaphroditic and have each female and male flowers.

Q: How will you inform if a rambutan tree is male or feminine?

A: It’s tough to inform as a result of it’s important to wait and see if it’ll produce fruit after flowering. Search for labeled crops at a nursery or develop a couple of timber without delay.

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