If all you want is a pretty tree, growing mango from seed might be the way to go. But, if you want delicious fruit, you might be better off buying a grafted selection of Mangifera indica.
In the East Indies and Malaysia from whence it hails, the mango tree can grow to the stunning height of 60 feet.
They tend to stop at 40 feet when grown in the open ground in the United States.
They can be kept much smaller than this by restricting the roots in a pot or a greenhouse border. In most areas of the U.S. a greenhouse will be necessary as mango trees cannot endure frost.
Most people growing mango are after the sweet juicy fruit but the plant can be grown as an ornamental.
The long, 2 inch wide, droopy leaves emerge from the stems a pinkish color and mature to a shiny green. They dangle in groups from the tips of the stems.
Mangifera indica leaves curl a bit, like ribbons, and may be as long as a foot at maturity. Each one has a noticeable midrib and horizontal veins.
When a mango tree blooms, it puts on quite a show. A single tree may bear as many as several thousand small yellowish flowers on erect, branched stalks up to 15 inches tall.
The size, shape , color and flavor of the fruit varies widely.
Mainly they are oval shaped and ripen to some combination of red and orange. There are some varieties that remain green when ripe. Some turn yellow. Ripe mangos can weigh from several ounces to 4 pounds.
Mangos snap off the tree easily when ripe. The fruit will begin to soften when it is ready to eat.
If you want good fruit, this is not recommended. Seedling trees will not always fruit at all. When they do, the fruit may be excessively stringy or have a turpentine aftertaste. Some collectors in South Florida plant the seed knowing this. They enjoy growing the plants from seed and have enough land to grow many trees. If a few fail to produce quality fruit, it's no big deal to them.
If you only have room for one plant, you may feel differently.
To plant the seed:
When growing mango trees from seed, expect fruit in 6 years.
Mangos love heat and humidity. The leaf tips will turn brown if the air is too dry. They stop growing at temperatures below 55 degrees F.
Trees are deeply tap rooted and this long root should be trimmed to 12 inches a few weeks before the trees are planted out. This will encourage feeder roots to develop.
Plant Mangifera indica in composted soil 35 feet from any other large tree. Prune the top back by three quarters at this time. After this, prune only to control the size and form. The trees will take any amount of pruning or none at all.
Use a high nitrogen feed until the trees begin to bear. Then switch to something higher in phosphorous and potash. Apply the fertilizer 3 times per season.
When growing mango trees on sandy soils it may be necessary to add calcium.
Water the young trees regularly until they develop a taproot long enough to reach the water table. This usually takes 4 years.
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