A Morelle de balbis shrub is another name for Litchi tomatoes. It has been grown in small gardens and is now increasingly popular in heirloom gardening. Solanum sisymbriifolium is its Latin name which is from the nightshade family along with tomatoes and eggplants. It is native to South America. It will grow in tropical and warm temperature regions. It had an indigenous culture for hundreds of years as an important food staple. Litchi tomato plant appears like 5 feet tall and wide.
Take the prime example of Litchi tomato of a smattering of weird and beautiful traits, all in a single plant. It seems like a cherry tomato plant with its deep lobed green leaves, spreading habit, and similar small red fruits. When comes close the leaves of the Litchi tomato can be covered with spines like cactus and the fruits are hidden in tiny shell-like tomatillos.
The bigger and fluffy flowers look like squash plants. The Litchi tomatoes from the outside look red in color and when sliced they revealed a velvety yellow interior. If you pop one litchi tomato into your mouth feels like raspberries. The flavor of litchi tomato is slightly seemed like cheery with a subtle hint of tomato. Although many of them get different tastes like kiwi, watermelon, apple, pear and few of them said like creamy and sweet ground cherries with mixed tomatoes. The deeply lobed leaves with tooth margins appear as attractive when it blooms.
Also Read: Why Are My Tomato Flowers Falling Off?
Growing conditions for Litchi tomatoes
Litchi tomatoes like warm temperature and deep sunlight.
The litchi tomato doesn’t like cooler temperatures and is very sensitive. It can survive dips as 25°F and is remarkably tolerant to light frost. This is an invaluable trait that can squeeze to more harvest before winter.
It can be grown in full sunlight and can tolerate light shades also.
The litchi tomato can prefer moist and sandy soils with a wide range of soil types and pH.
For every week give them at least 1 inch of water for better productivity and good health of the plant.
Fertilize tomato plants as usual regular tomato plants. As fertile feeders, these plants will benefit from generous amounts of organic fertilizer applied regularly throughout the growing season.
Massive throne shrubs will grow from litchi tomatoes. Regular pruning will make it easier to manage. Litchi tomatoes have different growth habits than regular tomatoes. The flower buds emerge from the main stem and are leafless. You can trim branches with unwanted leaves, but try to leave young shoots and buds on the tree. It will not bear fruit.
Likewise, using tomato cages and other plant supports can help maintain the restraint of litchi tomatoes.
Litchi tomatoes self-fertilize but produce more fruit when more than single plants are planted together.
Where to buy litchi seeds?
Since litchi tomatoes are a unique heirloom variety, you are unlikely to find seeds for sale in garden centers or seed catalogs.
Local seed libraries and seed exchanges are good places to look, as well as these online sellers:
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds,
How to grow litchi tomatoes from seeds?
Since litchi tomatoes are related to tomatoes, the growing instructions are somewhat similar.
Sow seeds indoors approximately 7-8 weeks before the last spring frost. Draw one seedling per pot and transplant it outdoors when the frost hazard is over. Plant them 1/2 feet apart, leaving enough room to grow.
The plant grows in dense vegetation, reaches 3-5 feet in height, and is often made in a trellis or cage, like a tomato.
Grow litchi tomatoes in full sun, although they do well in partial shade as well.
Also Read: Best Potting Soil For Tomatoes?
How to harvest litchi tomatoes?
Litchi tomatoes take about 90 days to bear their first fruits (after transplanting), which means they will bear fruit even with our short growing season of 100-110 days in Vermont. Add to that the fact that they are frost-resistant and will allow you to work even in remote northern climates.
To harvest, carefully remove the fruit from the stem. When the fruit is fully ripe, the thorns will bend away from the fruit and the fruit will easily fall off the stem. You are not ripe yet.
The longer you preserve them at the plant, the sweeter they may be. The fruit must launch without difficulty from the calyx; if it resists, wait some extra days.
Fruits that have fallen off the plant are a signal of height ripeness so acquire those as well.
Some gardeners record that it’s going to produce fruit extra abundantly closer to fall because the climate cools. Fruits harvested in cooler climates additionally tend to be very candy and feature an extra fruity taste.
Seed Preservation of Litchi tomato
Tomatoes fruits are riddled with tiny flat seeds that are easy to preserve from year to year by fermenting and drying. These plants are also easy to self-sow too.
Diseases and Pests of Litchi Tomatoes
Another notable feature of litchi tomatoes is their impressive resistance to most pests and diseases.
The leaves and stems of the plant contain solasodine, a substance that is very toxic to fungi and insects.
Tomato leaf beetles are affected at all stages of life, which reduces the overall survival rate of adults, pupation, and metamorphosis of leaf larvae.
Look for tomato hornworms and potato beetles. These two vicious enemies do not appear to be affected by the chemical solasodine.