Rambutan Growing Tips: Learn About Rambutan Tree Care

Rambutan Growing Tips: Learn About Rambutan Tree Care

I’m lucky to live in the quintessential melting pot of America and, as such, have easy access to many foods that might otherwise be deemed exotic elsewhere. Among these are a dizzying array of fruits and vegetables from around the world, including the rambutan. If you’ve never heard of these you may be wondering what on earth are rambutans, and where can you grow rambutans? Keep reading to find out.

What are Rambutans?

A rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) is a type of fruit which looks much akin to the lychee with a sweet/sour flavor. It is high in iron, vitamin C, copper and antioxidants and, while it may be rarely found in your neck of the woods, it is highly prized in Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka and into India as well as eastward through Vietnam, the Phillippines and Indonesia. The name rambutan is derived from the Malay word rambut, which means “hairy” — an apt description for this fruit.

Rambutan fruit trees bear fruit that is indeed hairy in appearance. The fruit, or berry, is oval shaped, with a single seed. The outer peel is reddish or sometimes orange or yellow and covered with malleable, fleshy spines. The interior flesh is white to pale pink with a flavor similar to grapes. The seed can be cooked and eaten or the entire fruit, seed and all consumed.

Rambutan fruit trees are male, female or hermaphrodite. They are evergreens that attain a height of between 50-80 feet (15-24 m.) in height, with a dense, spreading crown. Foliage is alternate, 2-12 inches (5-30 cm.) long with hairy red rachis when young, and one to four pairs of leaflets. These elliptic to oblong leaves are slightly leathery, yellow/green to dark green and dull on the surface with yellow or bluish-green veins underneath.

Where Can You Grow Rambutans?

Assuming you don’t live in any of the countries listed above, you can grow rambutan trees in tropical to semi-tropical environs. They thrive in temps from 71-86 degrees F. (21-30 C.), and even a few days of temps below 50 degrees F. (10 C.) will kill these heat lovers. So, rambutan trees are best grown in warm regions such as Florida or areas of California. Of course, if you have a greenhouse or sunroom, you can give rambutan tree care a whirl by growing them in containers.

Rambutan Growing Tips

Even if you live in the appropriate USDA zone for growing the rambutan tree, keep in mind that Mother Nature is fickle and you need to be prepared to protect the tree from a sudden dip in temperature. Also, rambutan trees like to stay moist. In fact, temperature and the proper humidity are the keys to growing a thriving rambutan.

Rambutan trees can be grown from seed or seedling, both of which will no doubt need to be obtained from an online source unless you have access to fresh fruit in your area, in which case you can try harvesting the seed yourself. Seed must be very fresh, less than a week old, to be viable and all the pulp should be cleaned from it.

To grow rambutan from seed, plant the seed flat in a small pot with drainage holes and filled with organic soil amended with sand and organic compost. Place the seed in the dirt and lightly cover with soil. It takes between 10-21 days for the seed to germinate.

It will take about two years for the tree to be big enough to transplant outdoors; the tree will be about a foot (30 cm.) tall and still fragile, so it is better to repot it than actually put it in the ground. The transplanted tree should be placed in a ceramic, not plastic, pot in soil that is one part each of sand, vermiculite and peat to create good drainage.

Rambutan Tree Care

Further rambutan tree care will include feeding your tree. Fertilize with a food that is 55g potash, 115g phosphate, and 60g urea at six months and again at one year of age. At two years old, fertilize with a food that is 165g potash, 345g phosphate and 180g urea. At the third year, apply 275g potash, 575g phosphate and 300g urea every six months.

Keep the tree damp and humidity at 75-80 percent in a temperature at around 80 degrees F. (26 C.) in partial sun for 13 hours a day. If you live in an area with this climate and want to move the tree into the garden, leave 32 feet (10 m.) between trees and the soil need to be 2-3 yards (2-3 m.) deep.

The rambutan tree takes a bit of TLC to get a healthy plant going, but is well worth the effort. In four to five years you’ll be rewarded with the unique, tasty fruit.

Almond Tree Plant Profile

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The almond belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae), making it a relative of several well-known fruit trees. There are different types, ranging from small ornamental shrubs (Prunus glandulosa) grown only for their pretty flowers to medium-sized trees that produce edible nuts. It is not difficult to grow almond trees and harvest their nuts as long as you have the right kind of climate and are armed with a few critical growing tips.

Botanical Name Prunus dulcis
Common Name Almond tree
Plant Type Deciduous tree
Mature Size 10 to 15 feet tall and wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Rich, deep, well-drained loam
Soil pH Slightly acidic to neutral to slightly alkaline
Bloom Time March
Flower Color White, pink
USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7 to 9
Native Area North Africa and the Middle East

Which fruit trees are suitable for growing in a greenhouse?

Although the care of fruit trees in a greenhouse is similar to those planted outdoors, it is necessary to take into account some particularities.

For starters, it is not possible to plant all species in a greenhouse. Whether due to size or other needs, there are fruit trees more suitable for greenhouse cultivation and others that don’t do well.

In the table below, we give you a few fruit tree examples that you can grow in a greenhouse. We will go into more details thereafter to explain what limitations there are for some species.

Easy To GrowWith LimitationsNot Suitable
Citrus (lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit, pomelo…)AppleCoconut
PapayaDurian (jackfruit)

Apple Trees

It's the quintessential orchard fruit that can grow as a bush on a rootstock or as an espalier, U-shaped cordon, or double U. For some delectable snacking varieties, go for Gala, Fuji, and Honeycrisp, all of which will pollinate each other, or try Jonagold, Pink Lady, Ashmeads Kernal, or Cox. Good cooking varieties for all of your baking needs (including apple pies, cakes, and more) include Gordon, Liberty, and Sierra Beauty.

How to Plant and Care For Your Fruit Tree

You should take some time to plan what fruits you are going to grow, choose suitable varieties for your area, consider pollination if necessary and organize where you are going to plant your trees so they will have enough room to mature. Once properly planted your fruit trees will need some care to give you their best, but once you start harvesting the bounty these fruits will give, you will know that the little work you had to do was more than worth it.


Pruning should begin as soon as you plant your trees. Never let your tree grow large and then suddenly decide to prune it. If you need a saw you have left it too long, hand pruners are all you need if you start early and continue to prune correctly.

Tree fruits are pruned for three reasons. Firstly they are pruned to control their size and keep the growth lower to the ground to make harvesting easier. Left alone trees will grow tall, so the top of the tree is removed so that the branches grow out at an angle, forming a vase-shape, instead of growing too tall and upright.

Secondly they are pruned to allow more sun in to ripen the fruit. This is done by limiting the number of main branches and keeping the centre of the tree open and free of growth. So the vase you are creating is an empty one, full of sunlight to ripen your harvest.

Thirdly they are pruned to encourage fruiting. This is done by shortening side branches so that the trees develop what are called fruiting spurs – short branches where the flowers and fruit will be carried each year. These spurs would develop naturally over time but pruning encourages them to develop sooner, giving you crops just a few short years after planting your trees. The exact methods of pruning vary from fruit to fruit, and we have described it in more detail in the description of each fruit tree.

Pruning Berry Bushes

Berry Bushes are usually pruned quite differently. They typically fruit on new branches produced the year before, so old branches are cut right out after harvest to make room for the new ones that will have already begun to grow and will fruit the next year.


Because you are harvesting a crop from your fruit trees, they need more food than trees grown for decoration. You can choose to use suitable fertilizers out of a box, or rely on compost and manure, but unless you have very rich soil some kind of fertilizer will make a huge difference to your harvest.

Fertilizer is best applied in spring and should go in the area where the roots are growing, which is underneath the ends of the branches, not close to the trunk. When mulching with organic material keep it a few inches away from the trunk of your tree.

Pest Control

There are lots of alternatives available to control pests and diseases that may develop on your fruit trees. With mature trees a few pests may not be much of a problem since you will probably have a large crop and it won’t matter if nature takes back some of it.

There are regular chemical ways to control pests or you can use organic and more natural methods or a combination of both. The choice is yours but when you grow your own fruit you will know exactly what has or has not been done to it.