How to grow rambutan?

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 in height, with a dense, spreading crown. Foliage is alternate, 2-12 inches 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 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 between trees and the soil need to be 2-3 yards 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.

If you want to grow rambutan, you can easily grow them now. It will happen to live in the area where there are exotic fruits to grow, you must know rambutran fruits very well. This fruit is basically considered to be high prized fruits in Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, and Indian. The fruits just like hairy or spiky lychee fruits.

Growing Rambutan

As mentioned previously, rambutan is like the lychee fruits but it is more spiky or hairy. The taste is somewhat sour and sweet. The fruit itself is oval and only consists of one seed. The skin of rambutan or the outer part of the fruit is reddish or orange with some fat spines. What great about rambutan is that you can consume the seed and all of its part. If you are interested in growing this exotic fruit, you can learn how to do it.

The Climate

One consideration when you want to grow the rambutan tree is that you need to be living in the semi tropical or tropical areas. For your information, rambutan trees really enjoy warm weather. The weather below 10 degree Celsius or 50 degree Fahrenheit will definitely kill them. So, by saying that, it seems that only some areas in America can grow the trees well like some areas of California and also Florida.

However, if you happen to have a greenhouse in your garden, it is not that bad to try planting the rambutan trees inside your greenhouse.

Growing Tips

If you want to grow rambutan trees, make sure that you have to always be prepared to protect them from any temperature drop. You also need to know that these trees enjoy the moist environment. The main keys to grow the rambutan are proper temperature and humidity.

You can start growing rambutan from seedling. You can find some seedlings from your local nursery if they have them. In general, if you have access to the fruit, you can collect the seeds from the tree directly. You need to find some fresh seeds, within one week old and they are also viable. Then, you need to clean the pulp from the seed.

Prepare some small pots with some drainage holes. Then, fill them all with the mixture of organic soils, organic composts and sand. Place the seeds in the mixture and then cover it with some soil. In general, it takes about 21 days for the seeds to grow.

In general, you need to spend at least two years to have your rambutan trees to be big enough to plant them outdoor. Since the tree is still fragile, it is better to transfer them to bigger pots rather than planting them on the ground. Make sure to plant them in the ceramic pot with the mixture of peat, vermiculate, and sand for better drainage system.

Tree Care

You need to fertilize your rambutan tree regularly. Make sure to keep the tree in the area with the temperature of 80 degree Fahrenheit. You need to keep the tree in the sun for about 13 hours per day. Although rambutan tree needs lots of time to grow, it is still worth the attempt. Within five years, you will be rewarded with its delicious fruits.

How To Grow Rambutan Trees and Fruits:

Today, we are going to discuss about “How To Grow Rambutan Trees and Fruits”.

Introduction to Growing Rambutan:

This is a fruit, which is from Southeast Asia. The fruit is called as Rambutan. This is similaer to Litchi / Lychee fruit. This Rambutan is native to Malaysia and Indonesia. These are popularly grown in Southeast Asia, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka and The Philippines. The Rambutan is originated from the genus of Nephelium. The Rambutan belongs to Sapindaceae family. Rambutan is scientifically named as Nephelium lappaceum. In India, this fruit is popularly grown in states and places like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Mangalore, Konkan in the region of Maharashtra and Kudak region of Karnataka. This fruit is closely related to many other species like mamoncillo, Logan, and Lychee. All these species are tropical fruits. This Rambutan is used in preparation of jellies, canned and jams.

Characteristics of Rambutan:

Plant of Rambutan: This tree is an evergreen tree which grows up to a height of 12 cm – 20 cm.

Leaves of Rambutan: The leaves of this plant will be alternated; they are 10 cm – 30 cm in length. They are pinnate, in each leaflet we can find 3 – 11 leaves. The width of the leaf will be 5 cm – 15 cm.

Flowers of Rambutan: The flower of the Rambutan flower will be small in size; the flower will be 2.5 – 5 mm, which has apetalous, discoidal and borne with panicles of 15 cm – 30 cm.

Fruit of Rambutan: The fruit will be round in shape, it contains a single oval seed, and the fruit will be 3 cm – 6 cm in length and 3 cm – 4 cm in broad. The skin of the fruit will be reddish in colour.

The seed of Rambutan: The seed of the Rambutan will be glossy in appearance and brown in color. The seed will be 1 cm – 1.3 cm.

Properties of Rambutan:

The nutrients that are present in Rambutan are:

  • Energy: 64.0 kcal
  • Protein: 1.0g
  • Fat:0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 16.5 g
  • The minerals that are enclosed in Rambutan are calcium, Phosphorus, Thiamine, Riboflavin, and Iron.
  • Vitamin c is present in Rambutan.

Varieties of Rambutan:

  • Chooi Ang
  • Peng Thing Bee
  • Yaa Tow
  • Azimat
  • Ayer Mas
  • Atjeh koonig
  • Binja
  • Rapiah
  • Cimacan
  • Lebak Bulus
  • Sinyonya

Soil and Climate requirements for Growing Rambutan:

How To Grow Rambutan.

The soil, which is preferred of growing Rambutan, is deep, clay loam or rich sandy loam soil and which contains rich organic matter. The soil should be capable of well draining the water. The depth of the soil should be about 2.0 m – 3.0 m.

The climate which required for growing Rambutan, the temperature, which is required is 27°C – 30°C. The land elevation should be about 1500 m – 2000 m.

Land preparation and Planting for Growing Rambutan:

All the unwanted weeds, pebbles, stones, and also the unwanted materials of the previous should be removed. Then the land should be ploughed for 2 – 3 times as it will attain the fine tilth and smooth texture following by the ploughing, the harrowing and levelling should be done. For a land we should use 5 kg each pit should be filled with a mixture of soil and also manure.

The pits should be about 60 cm * 60 cm * 60 cm. We need apply to the mixture of both soil and compost before two weeks of planting. And we should also add coconut husk first.

Propagation method for Growing Rambutan:

The seeds can be used for propagating the seeds. We should first remove the seeds from the fruit and then we should wash the seed thoroughly, then the seed should be planted horizontally with the flattened side. By doing this the seedling will grow in straight angle and the plant will have normal and strong root system. The seed germination will take place within 9 – 25 days. If the seed is germinated in a two days, then the seed rate will be 87% – 95%. After the seedling is established, then we should transplant the seedling to the main field.

Manure and Fertilization method in Rambutan Cultivation:

  • At the time of the plantation, need to apply farmyard manure to the land.
  • After plantation, we need to apply organic matter to the plants, we need to apply urea to the plants, and also we need to apply Muriate of Potash to the plants.
  • Gradually, quantity of the fertilizers should be increased year by year. As the tree grows bigger the rate of fertilizers should be increased.

Irrigation methods for Growing Rambutan Trees:

During the growing period the Rambutan plant requires a lot of water, as it is a drought sensitive plant. For the first dry season we need to irrigate the plant, as it is one of the most critical periods of the plant. Even of the plant is bearing and establish we need to irrigate the plant during the dry season.

Intercultural methods in Growing Rambutan:

Weeding: The weeds can be controlled and by using weedicides or by picking the weeds manually. Twice in a year, the weeding should be done. In a radius of 1 cm of the plant the weeds should be removed.

Pruning: The dead twigs and water shoots. To get a well balanced canopy we need to irrigate the plant from the young stage.

Mulching: The application of dried weeds, grasses and other unwanted organic materials can be used in mulching as this mulching will help in conserving the moisture.

Training: The plant should be trained for climbing the wall, the seedlings should be trained.

Intercropping: These Rambutan crops can be intercropped with food crops like beans, leafy vegetables and also the root crops.

Pest and Diseases of Rambutan Trees:


The pests that attack the Rambutan crop are:

  • Fruit borer
  • Acrosircops crammella

These pests will damage the stem, these can be controlled by using the chemical methods.


The disease that attacks the Rambutan crop is:

  • Powdery mildew

This will damage the fruit and drop them prematurely. These can be controlled by spraying, sulphur of several times during the early stage.

Read: Frequently Asked Questions About Plant Diseases.

Harvesting Techniques of Rambutan Fruits:

The fruits should be harvested when they are matured and they should be harvested when the colour of the fruit changes completely.

  • In mid country zone, the fruit should be harvested in the month of July and September.
  • In some climatic conditions, we can harvest them in the month of December and February.
  • Under average conditions, we should harvest, the fruits in the month of June – August.

Post harvesting techniques of Rambutan Fruits

After harvesting, the fruit need to keep them in a container as brunches, the container or the fruits should not expose to the sun. The damaged fruits should be removed.

Cleaning: After harvesting the fruits they should be washed and cleaned.

Storage: These can be kept for 3 – 4 days in normal conditions. The fruits can be sorted in a cold storage the temperature should be 18˚C. The low density polyethylene bags should be enclosed and they should contain ventilating holes.

Packing: These should be packed in coconut leaf baskets or rigid leaves and use rigid ventilation while storing the Rambutan fruits.

Transportation: The ventilating Lorries should be used for transportation. We should not use open Lorries for transportation. The fruit should be protected from the sunlight and rainfall while loading and unloading them.

Marketing: These fruits have high demand in the local and international market.

Yield of Rambutan Fruits:

The average yield of the Rambutan is 100 kg -150 kg per tree. In a year we will get 500 – 1500 fruits.

Read: Growing Vanilla Beans.


When you ask Ticos what their favourite fruity snack is a likely response is Mamon Chino! The little fruit, also known as Rambutan originally grows in Southeast Asia and therefore the meaning of the Costa Rican term Mamon Chino can be simply translated as “Chinese Sucker”. The Mamon Chino tree is related to the Lychee and to the Mamones, but the Mamon Chinos is distinguished by their red and hairy skin. This leathery skin protects the sweet, milky-white pulp, which has a jelly-like consistency. In the middle of the fruit you can find the almond-shaped seed, hardly fixed in the pulp.

If you want to eat the fruit straight, like most of the Ticos and locals do, peal the hairy skin off by using your fingers carefully and enjoy the fruit by sucking on the pulp. But take care of your teeth and remember the seed is really hard!

In addition to the pulp, the leaves, the roots and the bark of the Mamon Chino trees are useful as well. The indigenous people of Southeast Asia dyed their clothes with it and revered it because of its healing characteristics. So go ahead and try this seasonal and exotic fruit available at fruit stands and surely any farmer’s market that you will visit at this time of year (July-August) in Costa Rica!

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Lychee vs. Rambutan

  • Lychee

    Lychee (variously spelled litchi, liechee, liche, lizhi or li zhi, or lichee) (Litchi chinensis; Chinese: 荔枝; pinyin: lìzhī) is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae.

    It is a tropical tree native to the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China, where cultivation is documented from 1059 AD. China is the main producer of lychees, followed by India, other countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and South Africa.

    A tall evergreen tree, the lychee bears small fleshy fruits. The outside of the fruit is pink-red, roughly textured and inedible, covering sweet flesh eaten in many different dessert dishes. Since the perfume-like flavour is lost in the process of canning, the fruit is usually eaten fresh.

    Lychee contains many phytochemicals. The seeds have been found to contain methylenecyclopropylglycine which can cause hypoglycemia, while outbreaks of encephalopathy in Indian and Vietnamese children have also been linked to its consumption.

  • Rambutan

    The rambutan (, taxonomic name: Nephelium lappaceum) is a medium-sized tropical tree in the family Sapindaceae. The name also refers to the edible fruit produced by this tree. The rambutan is native to the Malay-Indonesian region, and other regions of tropical Southeast Asia. It is closely related to several other edible tropical fruits including the lychee, longan, and mamoncillo.


That hairy red fruit came from … Wal-Mart? | Miami Herald

Close-up of ripe rambutans. Linda Bladholm

The Place: Exotic lychee-like fruit rambutan, sheathed in a hairy red shell, is available at Wal-Mart, Whole Foods and Fresh Market imported from Guatemala and Honduras by HLB Specialties.

The History: HLB was founded by the Barros family, who emigrated from Brazil to Germany in 1989 to start a fruit-importing company bringing papayas to Europe. They moved to South Florida in 1998 to establish their company here and now also distribute mangoes, avocados, limes, physalis (golden berries) and rambutan flown in daily just after they are harvested. They focus on fruits from tropical regions in Colombia, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. In the 19th century, the Dutch brought rambutan from their colony in Indonesia to their Surinam colony in South America, where it spread throughout the continent and to Central America. The fruit is in season May to January and available now.

The Fruit: Rambutan are native to the Malayan archipelago and grow on a medium-sized tree in the family Sapindaceae (soapberry) that includes maple, horse chestnut, lychee and longan. The fruit is a single-seeded three-inch berry that grows in clusters of 10-20 with leathery dark-to-bright-red skins covered in spines. The flesh or aril is translucent and white or pale-pink when ripe with a sweet, mildly acidic flavor similar to a green grape crossed with a lychee with a firm chewy texture. There is one central almond-shaped bitter seed — the oil from it is used to make soap, so don’t eat it. To crack the outer shell, make a small incision with a knife or fingernail in the equator of the fruit and pry open by hand with your thumb, peeling away the skin with your fingers. Hold the fruit and nibble off the succulent flesh discarding the seed. Rambutan taste best chilled and are juicy and refreshing. Peeled and pitted ones can be added to tossed green salads or fruit salads and are great frozen to enjoy as an icy treat.

You Didn’t Know This: In Central America rambutan are called mamon chino, meaning “Chinese suckers,” because you can pop the whole peeled fruit in your mouth and suck the flesh from the pit. The name of the fruit comes from the Malay word rambu meaning hair, reflecting their hairy looking pliable spines on the outside of the fruit. In Vietnam they are called chom chom meaning “messy hair.”

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To Purchase: 12-ounce packages are sold at Wal-Mart for $3.99 and at Whole Foods for $4.99. Also available until December in bulk at Fresh Market. Contact importers HLB Foods at 954-475-8808 or at

Linda Bladholm blogs at at on what she cooks, where she eats and who she meets along the way.

Similar to lychee in taste and size, rambutan is actually quite different in texture and appearance. Originating from Malaysia, these fruits are grown on trees, and they are covered in soft red, yellow, and green “hairs”. Consequently, Rambutan translates to “hairy fruit” in Malay. In Vietnamese, rambutan is called “chôm chôm”, which translates to “messy hair” in English. This hairy appearance gives way to a fibrous and juicy fruit that hugs a beige pit. Their sweet, flowery and almost grape-like flavours make this fruit popular in Asia.

How to Select

At the store, you’ll find most rambutan in plastic wrapped in bunches so it’s hard to pick and choose them individually. Look for rambutan that has a deep, red colour with bright green filaments. Those that are slightly yellowed or have browned tendrils may still be good to eat, but the discolouration indicates that they’ve been off the tree for a longer period.

Avoid rambutan fruits that have brown soft spots, mould, or are completely brown.

How to Store

Rambutan is best enjoyed as soon as possible after purchase. Alternatively, store it in the original packaging or in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to five days.

How to Prepare

Despite their hairy appearance, rambutan are quite easy to prepare. With a sharp knife, pare through the skin across the middle to open and reveal the white fruit. Pop it out of the other half and eat around the pit. To pit them for drinks or a salad, cut in half and remove the pit.

How to Freeze

You can freeze rambutans whole to enjoy at a later date. Freezing them whole means that the rind protects the fruit in the frozen state. Flash freeze by spreading whole fruits onto a baking sheet in the freezer, then transfer to an airtight bag or container once frozen. Thaw before enjoying and peel and eat as you would normally.


  • If you’re serving rambutan on a fancy fruit platter, prepare them by cutting them in half so guests can hold the hairy half and show off their striking appearance. This will surely create some interest and conversation!
  • There’s a papery layer between the almond-like seed and the fruit that tends to come off when eating the fruit. This paper is safe and adds a bit of texture if you choose to eat it.
  • Keep the rambutan wrapped in plastic in the fridge if you wish to store it.
  • You can open up the fruit without a knife. If you aren’t worried about sticky hands, just pierce the skin with your thumb and pry it open!

Goes well with

Rambutan is typically enjoyed as a snack on its own, but you can combine rambutan with other tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, dragonfruit, mangosteen, orange, lime, kiwi, coconut, or papaya. Rambutan’s grapelike flavour also goes well with other fruits like pears, apples, cherries, or peaches.

Serving Ideas

Try rambutan in a cocktail with ginger, lime and rum! Pit the rambutan and muddle with lime, ginger, and rum or vodka. Strain and enjoy as a martini! Or you can turn it into a fizzy drink by mixing it with a lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7-Up.

Serve rambutan in a fruit salad with the above mentioned tropical fruits, or serve it on a fruit platter at a party with half of the outer shell still intact for an interesting display.

We’re so intrigued by this savoury rambutan dish! Traditional Asian flavours from ground pork, peanuts, and garlic meld with the sweetness of rambutan.

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