How to grow mango from seed

If there’s one fruit that says “summer” it has to be the mango. It is a surprisingly easy, and potentially very rewarding, fruit tree to grow.

What you need to know about a mango tree

Name: mango (Mangifera indica cvrs)

Plant type: evergreen fruit tree

Height: 10m+, but pruned to contain size. Dwarf forms available.

Foliage: narrow oval shape with a pointed tip. Up to 30cm long, but only around 5cm wide. Distinct pattern of veins on older leaves. New foliage bright red or pink.

Climate: frost free. Tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate.

Soil: tolerant of most soils, provided they are deep and not wet.

Position: full sun, wind protection preferred, grows very well on slopes.

Flowering and fruiting: flowers in spring, fruit ripens depending on climate, first fruit generally ripens by mid-summer (fruit takes over 120 days to develop and ripen).

Feeding: annual feeding with a controlled-release fertiliser balanced for fruiting trees.

Watering: little required once established, as they are deep-rooted.

Mango

Appearance and characteristics of a mango tree

Mangoes would have to be the most mouth-watering of the summer fruits. Their sweet, musky smell and delectable, juicy flesh is like all the moods of summer wrapped up in one fruit. What many people don’t realise is that mangoes can be quite easily grown in the home garden. They have very few maintenance demands once established, and can return very good crops, even in warm temperate areas.

The mango tree is a very large, broad-domed large tree, but in both orchards and home gardens it is generally pruned to manage its size. In the home garden the tree will typically be kept at less than 5m in height, and this pruning means it will often develop a rounded crown. There are dwarf forms available that are suitable for both gardens and large pots.

The trunk is generally short and stout. The canopy is very dense with the lush, downward-pointing foliage creating a tropical look. The new foliage creates a striking contrast, starting off bright pink then aging to red before assuming the typical deep green. When crushed, the leaves have a distinct mango aroma.

The fruit are generally a kidney shape of varying size. Colours range from yellowy-green to oranges and even vivid red. A single mature tree of over 10 years of age can produce 200–300 fruits!

The mango is very deep rooted, and also has a wide-spreading network of surface roots. Unlike some trees, however, the roots are not destructive, so this tree is safe to plant beside pathways of buildings. Just bear in mind that it can become a very large tree.

A mango tree can live for over 300 years and still keep fruiting. Old trees can produce 1500 fruit a season, and there are even reports of some trees producing over 6000 fruits!

Uses for a mango tree

The mango is primarily grown for its fruit, however, it does make a handsome feature tree with its tropical look and colour-changing foliage.

How to plant and grow a mango tree

A mango tree grows best in full sun. They will grow in shade, but will not fruit well. Your mango tree will require deep soil, and soil that does not become waterlogged. Their main root can reach a depth of 6m.

A mango tree can be planted in most positions, but will do particularly well on sloping sites due to the good drainage. Exposure to strong wind should be avoided.

How to grow mango from seed

A mango tree will grow easily from seed, but the seeds must come from a fully ripened fruit and they must be planted while fresh. Use a tall, deep pot or bag to allow for root development.

Clean the seed to remove excess flesh. The entire seed can be planted whole by simply burying it slightly in potting mix, but germination will be very slow. To speed up germination, carefully open the stone—this is like a shell surrounding the kernel—and remove the kernel without damaging it. Position the kernel in a quality potting mix around three-quarters buried with the top end protruding. The “top” contains the folded-up first leaves and shoot, and these should be obvious. Keep warm. Germination should take place in under three weeks.

Planting a mango tree

Follow these tips when planting your mango tree:

  • Mango has a central tap-root, so it’s important not to damage this during planting. The easiest way to avoid damage is to avoid excessive disturbance of the root ball at planting time.

  • Dig a planting hole at least twice as wide as the pot or bag, and around 20cm deeper, too.

  • Blend through a well-composted manure or suitable planting compost and add a controlled-release fertiliser.

  • Young trees will likely require staking for at least the first 6 months. Use at least two stakes.

  • Keep well-watered while establishing.

Pruning mango trees

As young trees develop, prune out the central shoot to encourage lateral branching. Aim to have three to five lateral or scaffold branches developing. Mangoes can be easily damaged by wind, so remove any broken branches promptly and tidy up the damaged area to a neat cut.

As fruit is borne on the current season’s growth, you can improve flowering and fruiting by lightly pruning in autumn through to early summer.

Diseases and pests affecting mangoes

The main disorders affecting a mango tree are fungal problems. If your foliage or fruit develops any sort of spotting that doesn’t have any other obvious cause, take a sample, sealed in a clear plastic bag, to the plant care specialist at your local nursery.

Many fungal problems can be avoided or reduced by developing a few good practices:

  • Remove and destroy any fallen leaves. Don’t compost them; add them to the green waste.

  • Keep the inside of the canopy open to allow for good air circulation.

  • Remove any damaged or diseased branches and trim to a suitable point as soon as you notice them.

  • Keep pruning tools clean, and sterilise with methylated spirits before and after pruning.

Other problems may include scale, mealybugs and mites.

If you like this then try

Watermelon:  one of the most popular summer fruits, watermelons are surprisingly easy to grow at home.

Pineapple: they say if you can grow a mango then you need to add pineapples.

Feijoa: a small, easy-care fruit tree that thrives in similar climates to a mango. 

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