Complete Guide on How to Grow and Care for Mango

Complete Guide on How to Grow and Care for Mango

Mango trees (Botanical name: Mangifera indica) are a strictly tropical fruit that comes in different colors and sizes, have different flavors, and they ripen at slightly different times.

The best climate to grow mangoes is frost free with cool, dry winters and steamy, hot summers.

You can get many different varieties of mangoes or types of mangoes suited to different climatic conditions. If you live in a less than ideal climate (you know your climate is ideal when mangoes are growing everywhere), speak to other growers or speak to competent staff in a nursery to make sure you use varieties suited to your climate.

Mangoes like growingin light and free draining soils, they don’t need rich soil. Youactually get the best crops on soils of somewhat lower fertility.

Depending on thevariety mango trees can grow huge, to 35 m/over 100 feet high and 15m/45 feet across for seedling trees of older varieties. But you can(and should!) keep a mango tree small by pruning it regularly.

Speaking on how themango looks like: The mango is a very attractive, evergreen tree withglossy, dense foliage. The new shoots are reddish, the mature leavesa dark green.

A mango tree in full flower is a sight to behold. The large pink panicles are at the ends of the branches and cover the whole tree. Oh, and they smell good, too!

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GettingStarted With Growing Mangoes

There are two ways to get started: you can buy mango trees at a nursery or you can grow your own from seed. The seed grown trees will take a lot longer to bear fruit. (Unless you know how to graft them or know someone who does.)

Mango trees that weregrown in a nursery are usually grafted and should fruit within threeto four years. Seedling trees may take five to eight years. Thoughhere again variety selection makes a difference.
Polyembryonicvarieties (see below) will fruit sooner.
Trees that are kept smallwill also fruit sooner.

Seedling mango trees grow much faster and stronger than the nursery trees and have a seemingly indestructible root system.

Grafted trees aregenerally of a more manageable size, but grafted or grown from seed,with pruning you can manage them all.

A more importantadvantage of grafted trees is that you know you will get a reliablybearing tree. If you grow mango from seed you need to know exactlywhich tree your mango seed came from or you won’t know for sure whatkind of fruit you are getting until years later…

If you buy mango trees in a nursery don’t look just for size and color. Have you ever tasted the variety you are about to buy? Mangoes vary widely in taste! True. And we all have different likes and dislikes.
Some of the commercial varieties are bred for shelf life, size and looks, but are barely edible. So, know the variety you buy!

Secondly, if you planto grow more than one mango tree, find out if it is an early or latefruiting variety. Don’t buy three trees that all fruit at the sametime.

Thirdly, if you livein a cooler, subtropical area, make sure you get a variety thatflowers well in those conditions. All mangoes will grow if yourclimate is frost free, but flowering habits depend on temperature andvary. And without flowers there will be little fruit.

And last but notleast, especially if you live in an area where it may rain during thecooler time of the year, you should also look for a variety thatshows good resistance to the mango disease anthracnose. (More on thatbelow.)

If you buy your mango trees you can skip the next section.

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GrowingMango Trees From Seed

Growing mangoes from seed is actually quite easy.
(All the seeds of the mangoes I eat, dry or freeze are thrown out in the garden as mulch, and they all grow…)

The most important step is the seed selection! If you take any old shop bought seed it may not grow true to type. The seed needs to come from what is called a “polyembryonic” variety.

What that means isthat the seed contains more than one plant embryo. It will sproutseveral identical trees. And those seedling trees will be identicalto the parent tree. They are clones.

Ideally you know theparent tree, it’s from your area, grows really well and gets a bumpercrop every year! If not, oh well. Get seed from a polyembryonicvariety and at least you know that the fruit you harvest will tastethe same.

The most common commercial variety in Australia, the Kensington Pride also known as Bowen is polyembryonic. It’s also a vigorous tree and usually fruits reliably, so it is well suited for seed growing.

The R2E2 is poly embryonic, too, but who wants to eat those… That is one of the mangoes I mentioned above that are bred for export, for their shipping and storage qualities, not for their juiciness and flavor.
Nam Doc Mai on the other hand is a nice one.

The best time to grow mangoes from seed is the beginning of the wet season (beginning of summer).

Eat a nice mango,remove as much flesh from the seed as possible and then let it dryfor a day or two.

To germinate the mango seed you could just put the whole thing in a warm, moist place (for example a compost pile) and wait for it to sprout.
Then cut off all the seedlings except for one. The smallest supposedly gives you the best fruit.

Or, if you wantquicker germination, or if you have only one seed but want half adozen trees, or if you simply enjoy fussing over them, then you cancarefully cut a corner of the fibrous big seed. Cut only just deepenough so you can see the two halves of the seed, and then break itopen.

Inside you find several small bean shaped seeds. Those contain the individual embryos. Hopefully they are white and not all grey or brown and shriveled.

You can plant thosemango seeds individually. They should take about ten days to sprout.

I like to sprout myseeds right where they are to grow. That way I don’t need to worryabout hardening them off (getting a shade grown seedling used to fullsun) or about transplanting shock. If you are worried about thelittle thing getting eaten, uprooted or trampled you can always put abarrier around it.

If you prefer to first grow your mango tree in a pot, follow the instructions for nursery trees when it comes to planting time.

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PlantingA Mango Tree

You plant a mango treejust like you plant any other fruit tree, so I won’t go intospecifics here.

The best time to plant your mango tree is the beginning of the wet season (summer).

Make sure you select aplace in full sun. And make triple sure you really want a big treethere!

The tree needs to besun hardened. If your mango tree was grown in a shade house,gradually get it used to the sun first. Then dig a big enough hole.Carefully separate tree and pot without disturbing the roots.

Put tree in hole, fill in, water.

Complete Guide on How to Grow and Care for Mango

CaringFor A Mango Tree

I mentioned at thebeginning that mangoes need little care. It’s true.

Young mango trees do benefit from regular watering and a little fertilizing until they are established. But don’t love your mango tree to death.

Overwatering can kill it, especially if your soil is a bit heavy. And too much nitrogen fertilizer will make it weak and sappy, all leaves and little fruit, susceptible to bugs and diseases.

The older the treegets, the less nitrogen it needs. Phosphorus and potassium are moreimportant.

Mulch your mango tree heavily and spread a bit of compost every now and then. If your soil is reasonable that should be all the tree needs.

If the compost is madewith wood ash, all the better. Wood ash supplies potassium which willencourage fruiting and make the fruit taste better. For mulch useonly rough stuff like hay or lucerne, nothing that may mat down andbecome all soggy like grass clippings.

Fertilize mango trees in spring and summer only, and only a little at a time.

A good way of helpingthe tree is foliar spraying with fish fertilizer or seaweed solution.It provides trace elements and avoids deficiencies, but it doesn’toverfeed.

But your best bet,even on very poor soil, remains topdressing with lots of organicmatter by way of compost and mulch.

When the tree is onemetre high, cut it back by a third so it branches.
When thosebranches get to a metre, cut the tips off again.
That should giveyou a nice shaped tree.

PruningA Mango Tree

Mangoes respond verywell to pruning. And they are forgiving. Whatever you mess up, itwill grow back.

Mangoes grow terminalflowers (they flower at the tip of a branch), so the more branchesyou have the better the crop. You can encourage lateral branchingwith tip pruning (only taking off the tips of branches).

You should also aimfor an open crown, taking out whole branches if the centre becomestoo crowded, so that air and light can penetrate.

You can use pruning tokeep your tree a manageable size and a nice shape.
Mango treegrowing too tall? Cut it down. Too wide? Cut it back. Don’t hesitateto prune your mango tree!

Pruning mangoes is not a science. In fact, the commercial growers here hire a big, scary machine with a long arm with three huge rotating blades.

The machine drives along the rows and gives the trees a good hair cut so they all end up exactly the same height and width.

You can do somethingsimilar by hand if you want to keep your tree a certain size.

Usually mango pruning is done after harvest, though in some cooler areas the preferred time is just before flowering.

Ideally you prune onlya little bit every year. If you let a mango tree grow much too bigfirst, and then cut it back to a third of its size, the tree willlikely skip the next crop.
Cut it back to a stump and it will taketwo years or more to fruit again. But amazingly they will grow backeven from that!

Having said all that, after the initial cuts to encourage branching as mentioned in the previous section, you don’t HAVE to prune a mango tree. If you don’t mind having a really, REALLY big tree, mangoes grow and fruit very well without pruning.

If was you, I would prune it.

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Flowering,Fruit Set And Harvesting Mangoes

Mangoes flowerprofusely and self pollinate very well.

The flowering istriggered by cool nights. In the true tropics a severe cold snap willbring out masses of flowers. For us a severe cold snap is a nightbelow 15°C/60F. In years where it doesn’t get so cold we end up withpoor crops.

But there are mangovarieties that flower well even when it doesn’t get so cold. That’swhy I grow a dozen different ones. And that’s why you should do yourresearch before selecting a variety. Or plant a dozen different ones.

In colder climates itcan easily be too cold for mango flowers to be viable. Selecting coldhardier varieties is important for you. (Nam Doc Mai would be asuitable variety in Australia.)

Initially you may seemasses of tiny mangoes on your flower panicles, but the tree willshed a lot of them and keep only what it can handle. So don’t worryif you see a lot of them drop off.

The mangoes will growbigger and plumper, and eventually they will start to change colour.How long that takes depends on your climate. The hotter the weatherthe faster the mangoes ripen.

Usually your mangoeswill be ready by the beginning of the wet season (late spring/earlysummer).
Some mangoes don’t change colour when ripening. Your bestbet for all of them is to squeeze them ever so gently. Once they givea bit they are ready. Don’t worry, you will be able to tell thedifference between a green, rock hard mango and a ripe one.

If your mangoes get eaten (wild birds, bats, possums, the neighbor’s kids…) you can pick them half green. They will ripen at room temperature.

Be careful when harvesting mangoes, don’t get any of the sap on you. The sap can spurt from the fruit stem when it snaps off and can cause burns, allergies and dermatitis.
It also burns the skin of the mango, which will go rotten at that spot.
(That won’t matter if you eat it straight away, but it does when you pick them half green.)

The best way to harvest mangoes is to cut them off with a long section of stem still attached, and to handle them carefully so that the stem does not snap off.

MangoPests And Diseases

The most serious mangodisease is anthracnose, a fungus that can cause the flowers to goblack and fall off. It also causes black spots on stem and smallfruit, leaves may go brown.

Some varieties aremore susceptible to it then others and it’s worse in wet weather. Itis worst in areas where it rains during flowering and fruit set. Inareas with dry winters anthracnose can often be seen only once thefruit ripens. It develops black patches that go rotten.

Unless you want tospray nasty stuff, like copper solution or fungicides, you may haveto live with anthracnose and accept some losses. A healthy tree withstrong cell walls will show less infections than a weak one. So keeppiling on that compost and spraying that seaweed.

There are many newermango varieties that show good resistance to anthracnose. Get one ofthose if you live in a climate with winter rains!

Any other mango pestsand diseases, like fruit spotting bugs and borers and whatever elseis around, should be kept in check if you have a diverse permaculturegarden that encourages beneficial insects.

One more hint is toforsake neatness and leave your lower mango tree branches droopingonto the ground. When everything else has been stung, sucked andeaten, there are usually still mangoes hiding under there.

CanYou Grow Mangoes Indoors?

Nope. But you can grow mangoes in pots. So if it is just a little bit too cold in winter where you are, you can buy a dwarf variety and grow it in a tub and bring it inside during the coldest time of the year.

However, even a mangotree growing in a pot still needs lots and lots of heat and sun insummer. Growing mangoes indoors won’t do!

Source / Reference

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