The mango tree, known scientifically as Mangifera indica, is an enchanting giant that enjoys a rich history and is characterized by its delicious fruit and robust growth. We’ll guide you through the fascinating world of this tropical tree, exploring its care requirements and propagation methods.

Whether you’re a seasoned tropical gardener looking to expand your horizons or a beginner eager to embrace the rewards of gardening, this comprehensive guide on the marvellous mango tree will serve as a valuable resource. Let’s delve into the fragrant world of mango trees.

Mango tree on our property in the tropics
One of the mango trees already on our property 45 years ago, when it was purchased. Apparently, they looked quite the same then, so we don’t know their exact age.

Mango, known by the scientific name Mangifera indica, belongs to the family of Anacardiaceae.

There are two distinct categories, the Indian mango and the Southeast Asian mango. To have an idea of how many varieties are there, only in India, there have been around 500 varieties reported.

The mango tree is native to the Indian subcontinent where it was first discovered in the Indo-Burma region. It can grow up to 100 feet tall, with a dense canopy width equal to its height and a trunk circumference of more than 3.7 m (12 ft).

The tree is evergreen with simple shiny, deep dark leaves that provide excellent shade for surrounding plants. The trunk typically has a gnarled appearance, with deep grooves running along its length. The bark is usually greyish brown, with a thick, furrowed texture.

Varieties of Mango Trees

Mango is categorized into two main types: Indian and Exotic or Indochinese. Indian varieties are smaller, sweeter, and juicier than their exotic Indochinese varieties.

  • Indian Varieties – These varieties are usually found in India and other regions of South Asia. The Indian varieties commonly have monoembryonic – single embryo seeds. They have a sweet flavour with hints of tartness and can be eaten raw or cooked.
  • Exotic Indochinese varieties – These mango-type varieties have polyembryonic seeds – multiple embryos. They are best known for their unique flavour and texture. They range from mild to sweet-tart flavours and can be eaten fresh or cooked in dishes.

Location and Soil Requirements

Mango trees thrive in warm, humid climates with plenty of sunshine and are therefore best suited in tropical, subtropical, and warmer regions that have mild winters. Since a mango tree could live for over 100 years, pick a spot away from a building with plenty of room around, where it receives 8 hours of direct sun.

Make sure you’ve planted your mango tree far enough from your house so that when it grows into a magnificent giant, its roots don’t dig into the piping or foundation of your house. I distinctly remember being witness to a broken pipe fiasco, in which the roots of a mango tree had severed the pipes coming out of a well and had to be replaced. Never mind the labour required to get the roots completely out of the plumbing system.

Did you know the oldest living mango tree is 300 years old and is in East Khandesh? This tree still produces plenty of fruits!

Mango trees require well-drained, sandy-loam soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0 that contains plenty of organic matter. If your soil is too alkaline, adding sulphur may help balance out the pH levels so they are more suitable for growing mangoes. If the soil is heavy or poorly drained, it should be amended with compost or peat moss to improve drainage and aeration. Additionally, fertilizers should be applied regularly to ensure plentiful fruit production. It’s also important to water the tree regularly and deeply. They should be planted away from spots that get strong wind as well. Lastly, trees need protection from disease, so proper pruning and maintenance is essential for healthy growth.

With these requirements in mind, you can ensure that your mango tree will thrive and provide you with delicious fruit for years to come!

THE BASICS

Common NameMango
Botanical NameMangifera indica
ClimateTropical or sub-tropical
Best Time to PlantEarly spring or early summer
LightFull sun, but can tolerate partial shade
SoilMango trees prefer a well-draining type of soil like sandy loam, but are quite tolerant of different types of soil
Pests and DiseasesAphids, Mango fruit flies, Seed weevil, Gall Midge
LikesSpace to stretch out their root system and lots of sunlight
DislikesCold temperatures, lack of water

Planting

When To Plant

The best time to plant a mango tree is during the spring or early summer when temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Planting in the fall, especially in cooler climates can also be successful if done properly. When planting a mango tree, it’s important to select the right variety for your climate and give it enough space to grow.

Spacing

Mango trees should be planted as 4-18 month old seedlings or grafted plants. Ideally, trees should be sun-hardened before planting. Dig a big hole 3-4 times bigger than the roots of the seedling, and deeper than your desired depth. Use some topsoil you just dug up to partially backfill the hole to provide loose soil for young roots.

After planting and watering the tree spread a natural mulch, leaf litter, hay, or composted manure around the base of the tree to provide nutrients, conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Avoid the mulch touching the trunk to minimize disease risk. In hot areas cover with a natural mulch to reduce heat absorption.

It’s also very important to leave enough room between the trees so they have enough space to grow and develop. Generally, it is recommended that at least 8-10 feet of spacing should be left between two mango trees; however, this can vary depending on the size and type of tree as well as the conditions of the soil. For example, dwarf varieties may require less spacing than larger varieties since they do not grow as tall. Additionally, soil composition can also play a role in how much space is required; if the soil is poor and lacks nutrients, then more spacing may be necessary to ensure that each tree gets enough resources to thrive. Proper spacing will also help reduce competition between trees for sunlight and water.

Fertilizing

Fertilizing a mango tree is an important step in promoting healthy growth and abundant fruit production. To ensure that the tree receives the correct amount of nutrients, it is important to use a balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK). Additionally, applying small amounts of iron and zinc helps promote even healthier growth.

Pollination

The mango tree produces fragrant, white flowers in clusters. Each cluster has several hundred small white flowers that are 1/4-inch wide when fully open. Most of the flowers function as male flowers, but some are bisexual and form fruits after pollination. Pollination takes place through flies, wasps, bees, and even ants.

The blossoms eventually give way to oblong-shaped fruits that can be green, yellow, red or purple depending on the variety. These are packed with juicy pulp and an abundance of vitamins and minerals.

Propagating

Grafting, or How to Grow from Cuttings

Legend has it that mango trees have been cultivated and grafted for hundreds of years. Grafting was a ‘secret’ in many cultures and tasty mangoes were status symbols for royalty only. Ancient kings would steal limbs off each others’ mango trees and bribe and kidnap the other kings’ gardeners. Peasants were punished for possession of mango fruit or unauthorized cultivation of mango fruit trees. Royalty would try to surpass each other with lavish mango parties and huge gifts of perfect, ripe, delicious mango fruits. Some of today’s awesome Indochinese varieties existed many, many years ago exactly as we have them now.

How to Grow From Seeds

Mango seeds are either mono-embryonic (single embryo) or poly-embryonic (multiple embryos) depending on the variety. Only poly-embryonic seeds produce true-to-type (clones) of the parent. Most cultivars of mango do not produce seedlings true-to-type. Therefore, grafting is often necessary to overcome this problem.

Caring

Caring for a mango tree is relatively easy, but it does require some attention and work. Water your mango tree at least once every two weeks, ensuring the soil remains moist but not soggy. Prune the tree to maintain its shape and size as needed. It’s also important to fertilize your mango tree twice a year: once in spring and again in summer. Hold off on fertilizing right after the tree has flowered, as this will affect its production. Additionally, mulch around your tree to keep moisture in and weeds out, helping to promote strong growth and fruit production. Protect young trees from frost by covering them with burlap or a light blanket when temperatures dip too low during winter months. Taking care of your mango tree will ensure it thrives and produces delicious, juicy fruits for many years.

Watering

Once your mango tree has fully matured, watering should be reduced to once a month. This helps encourage deep-root growth and decrease the chances of over-watering, which can stunt fruit production. This won’t usually be a problem in a tropical location – you’re much more likely to see your mango tree go through long stretches of drought.

Pruning

You can let your mango tree grow its natural way with minimal pruning of only dry and diseased brunches, or you can train it by skillfully pruning it into a perpetually small tree, almost like a bush with an open canopy.

This canopy management has a rationale behind it, which is to improve air circulation and light penetration into the tree, enhance photosynthesis and fruit production, maintain a desirable canopy shape and size, reduce diseases caused by moisture buildup (e.g., anthracnose etc.) and make harvesting easier.

It is important to mention that you should always use sharp sterilized pruning tools when pruning a mango tree, to avoid infecting the tree with bacteria or fungus. Prune dead, weak and broken branches in late winter (January-February), before new growth begins.

Also, be sure not to prune away more than 30% of live branches because it can shock the tree and reduce your fruit production for that season.

When training and pruning your mango tree, pay attention to the main trunk of the tree and remove any branches that are growing outward from it. Remember as well to leave a few higher-level shoots (2-3) and lower-level shoots (4-5). These will act as scaffolding for future growth, so be sure to select the strongest and healthiest branches for these positions. You can also use thinning shears to reduce overcrowding in the canopy and promote healthy branch growth.

By following proper pruning and training practices, you can improve the overall structure of your mango tree and increase its productivity. With patience and practice, you will soon have a healthy, well-maintained mango tree with an abundance of delicious fruits.

Harvesting and Storing

Harvesting

When harvesting mangoes be sure to wait until they are fully ripe; the skin should have a slightly golden hue and yield to pressure when gently squeezed. Cut the mango from the tree using sharp pruning shears or a knife, being careful not to damage the tree. Choose a few at a time to ensure that the remaining fruit will ripen evenly. Mangoes can be eaten fresh or used in recipes such as salads, salsa, chutney, and smoothies.

Storing

Since we can’t enjoy mango season all year around, every year we end up with an excess of mangoes collected from our trees. We peel them, bag them in ziplock bags, and throw them in the deep freezer.

We simply defrost a few whenever we’re in the mood for a mango, or make an entire bag into mango nectar, which is one of our favourite uses.

Pests and Diseases

Pests

Mango trees can be susceptible to various pests and diseases that may affect their health and productivity. Common pests include the mango fruit fly, mango seed weevil, and mango gall midge. These pests can cause reduced yield and fruit quality, often resulting in damage to the fruit’s pulp or seed. Aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects can also pose a threat by sucking the sap from the tree and causing defoliation.

Diseases

As for diseases, Anthracnose is one of the most widespread, caused by the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides. It primarily affects the flowers and fruits, giving them a burnt appearance. Powdery mildew, caused by the fungus Oidium mangiferae, is another common disease that usually occurs in dry weather, leaving a white powdery substance on leaves, flowers, and young fruits.

Additionally, mango trees may suffer from bacterial black spot, a disease caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris, which creates black spots on the leaves and fruits. Root rot, often caused by overly wet soil, can also be a problem, leading to the decline or death of the tree. Regular monitoring and appropriate preventive measures can help manage these pests and diseases and ensure the health of your mango trees.

In the Kitchen

Food Uses

The mango tree has a multitude of uses. The wood is often used in the construction of furniture, while the leaves are traditionally used as fodder for livestock. The fruits can be eaten raw or processed into jams, jellies and chutneys. In some parts of India, the sap from the tree is used to make a type of syrup called jaggery. The bark has medicinal properties and can be used to treat fevers, intestinal worms and other ailments. Mango leaves are also believed to have antiseptic qualities. Additionally, the tree’s flowers are used in religious ceremonies and festivals throughout South Asia.

Mangoes can also be used in the production of natural dyes and pigments. They are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritious component of any diet.

Mangoes are also popularly used to make juices, smoothies, sorbets, ice creams and other desserts. In addition to being eaten raw, mangoes can be used to make curries, pickles and chutneys. Lastly, mango wood is often used in the manufacture of musical instruments.

Overall, the mango tree provides an array of nutritional and medicinal benefits as well as a range of uses for both culinary and decorative purposes. It is truly one of nature’s most generous gifts.

Nutritional Benefits

Mangoes are a powerhouse of nutrition and are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which strengthens immunity and aids in collagen production. Mangoes are also rich in Vitamin A, promoting good eye health and boosting skin health. The high fiber content in mangoes aids in digestion and helps maintain a healthy gut. Furthermore, they contain ample potassium which is crucial for maintaining nerve function and a healthy heartbeat. Mangoes also possess antioxidant properties, due to the presence of compounds like mangiferin and quercetin. These antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Truly, the mango isn’t just the king of fruits for its taste, but also for its impressive nutritional profile.

Medicinal Uses

In Ayurveda, the bark, leaves, flowers, and fruits are used to treat many ailments of the stomach and skin. The bark of the mango tree is an astringent that is used in diphtheria and rheumatism. The gum is used to heal cracked feet and scabies.

The juice of the mango tree’s leaves is used to treat fever, diarrhea, and intestinal worms. The latex from the bark is also useful in treating skin diseases such as ringworm and scabies.

Mango flowers are known for their diuretic properties and are used to reduce inflammation, help healing wounds, and treat colds. The fruit itself is full of essential vitamins and minerals that can help support healthy digestion and improve overall health. Furthermore, mangoes have a high content of dietary fiber which can aid in weight loss. The leaves of the mango tree are also used to prepare teas for fever, vomiting, piles, and eye diseases. Additionally, the bark is known to be beneficial in treating anemia and hemorrhoids.

In Conclusion

No matter what type of mango you choose, you can be sure to enjoy its unique flavour and texture. Mangoes are an incredibly versatile fruit that can be used in a variety of dishes from salads to desserts.

Good luck and enjoy your bounty of homegrown mangos!

FAQ

How long does it take for a mango tree to bear fruit?

On average, mango trees start bearing fruit 3 to 6 years after planting. However, the time can vary depending on the variety of mangoes and the growing conditions. If your young mango tree goes through a period of severe drought, the time to bear fruit will be on the longer end and production will decrease substantially.

Can I grow a mango tree indoors?

Yes, mango trees can be grown indoors if they receive enough light. However, because they can grow quite large, it’s best to choose a dwarf variety for indoor cultivation.

What is the lifespan of a mango tree?

Mango trees are long-lived, with some trees still bearing fruit after 300 years. However, commercial growers usually replace the trees after they reach about 20 years due to decreased productivity. The mango trees on our property have been here for at least 60 years and are still producing plenty of fruit.

How tall do mango trees grow?

Mango trees can grow quite tall, with some varieties reaching up to 100 feet. However, dwarf varieties, suitable for home gardens or indoor pruning, usually grow between 10 to 20 feet. Some of the easiest dwarf varieties to grow indoors and in containers are the Irwin and the Nam Doc Mai.

About US

We are a family of avid gardeners, lost and then found again in the majestic landscape of the tropics. Each day, we try to share bits and pieces of our journey, so that you too, can possess the confidence and ease to grow your own food in a tropical climate.

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