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I have a Litchi plant grown from a seed that doesn't seem too happy. It keeps growing new leaves, but each time a fresh set appears, the old ones turn brown.

It seems unable to carry more than two pairs of leaves simultaneously. It's placed in a south facing window in southern Sweden, which this time of year means quite a lot of sun and warmth.

I've tried giving it rain water (which I've read it would prefer) and watering it only when the soil is no longer wet, but nothing seems to boost it's growth. Any ideas?

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How old is the plant and how long has it been in the same size pot? – Bamboo Jul 11 '12 at 15:23
It grew around august last year, so about one year old. And I planted it in a bigger bot about 6 months ago. – Henrik Jul 11 '12 at 17:21
Turn it out of its pot to see if its rootbound, in case that's causing the problem. Otherwise I read that it is usual, in non tropical countries, to stand the plant outside during summer, removing to a frost free place for winter. – Bamboo Jul 12 '12 at 15:40
up vote 4 down vote accepted

This species can present a real challenge to the indoor gardener. Although they can be robust and get up to 100' (30 m) tall outdoors indoors their requirements seem to be much more exact.

  • acidic soil is preferred - using a soil less based mix with extra peat moss should work
  • a soil that is moist but not constantly wet (tricky!). It is better described as allowing the roots ready access to water while not sitting in water. Using a watering wick and a reservoir may help
  • alkaline soils may necessitate a chelated foliar spray to increase available iron.
  • do not plant too deep, the base of the trunk must be exposed
  • if the plant is in a full sun location you could fertilize monthly from spring to fall
  • during the winter a period of reduced growth seems to take place. Reduce watering and stop fertilizing during this period.
  • I have read here and here that a Mycorrhizal Fungi inoculation is required. Some soil less mixes come with this. A handful of good top soil added to the pot might also do the job.
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Great answer, thanks alot! Will try adjusting some of these variables :) – Henrik Jul 10 '12 at 20:20

From my own experience, I can recommend keeping the young litchi plants in a bright place, but without direct sun light.

I remember reading somewhere that in the nature the big litchi trees put quite a lot of shade, so the new seedlings are meant to grow in a less sun-exposed environment.

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Might be worth a shot placing the plant in a little less direct sun light to see what happens. However, brown leafs doesn't really seem like a symptom caused by to much sun. – Henrik Jul 11 '12 at 7:49

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