Mangoes are fleshy stone fruits that are native to South Asia. The supermarket variety has yellowish-red skin, soft yellow flesh, and big oblong stones. They also have a tangy, sweet flavor.
Still, nothing can compare to the taste of tree-ripened fruit. If you’re lucky enough to live in a temperate climate, you may be able to cultivate your own mango trees.
These hardy plants produce abundant yields of fruit. In this article, we cover everything from planting preparation to post-harvest crop management.
What Are Mangoes?
According to the encyclopedia, mangoes are stone fruits that stem from Indian evergreen trees. Technically, these fruits are part of the cashew family. In case you were wondering, their scientific name is Mangifera indica.
Mango trees go through several stages of growth. At full maturity, some varieties can grow as tall as 130 feet. They have long, narrow green leaves that resemble those of North American sumac bushes.
Their flowers are small, pinkish-white, and fragrant. The fruits are usually very large and heavy, though yields vary dramatically between mango varieties.
It may be more than four years before a mango sapling starts producing fruits. Still, a productive, healthy tree may yield fruit for well over 100 years. Each fruiting cycle takes between three and six months.
Mangoes are packed with vitamins and nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamins C and A. People enjoy both ripened and unripened mangoes. These fruits are used in many different ethnic cuisines. They can be eaten fresh, pickled, or cooked.
What Are the Different Varieties Available?
There are over 500 kinds of mangoes in the world. Some types are favored because of their success as commercial crops. Others are chosen for their ability to fend off a prevalent disease.
There’s nothing wrong with preferring a species just because it has a superior taste. Since mango trees are a long-term commitment, it’s worth it to consider a few different kinds.
Tommy Atkins mangoes are the most common commercially produced type of mango. These mangoes can weigh well over a pound.
The fruits have a mildly sweet flavor. The skin is dense and greenish-red. There are certainly more aromatic varieties, but Tommy Atkins mangoes still have their allure. These fruits have long shelf lives, and they ship well.
Haden mangoes are another popular commercial variety of mango. Haden mangoes were developed in Florida in 1902.
The skins of Haden mangoes have a yellowish-red tint. The fruits are incredibly sweet and fragrant. The trees are remarkably hardy and disease-resistant.
Keitt mangoes have a distinct look that is marked by dark green skin and pale yellow flesh. These fruits do not contain fibers.
Their creamy texture leaves mango lovers coming back for more. Perfectly ripened Keitts tend to be sweet and tart. This mango variety was developed in Florida.
Van Dyke mangoes are also a popular commercial variety of mango. These fruits are predominantly red with yellow details.
Van Dykes are unusually soft and sweet. The trees are resistant to fungus.
Kent mangoes are an offshoot of Brooks and Haden mangoes. Like many of the previously mentioned mango varieties, Kents do not contain fiber.
They have yellowish-green skins and sweet pulp. Unfortunately, they do do not ship very well. As such, it is quite difficult to find them in grocery stores.
Manila mangoes have distinct yellowish-orange exteriors. Their flesh is fiber-less and sweet. These mangoes are also known as Carabaos. This variety is native to the Philippines.
Valencia Pride mangoes were developed in Florida. Their fruits are long and thin. The skins are red and yellow. Many people choose Valencia Pride mangoes because they grow incredibly fast.
When is the Best Time to Plant Mangoes?
Both mango saplings and seeds should be planted in late spring or early summer. During this time, mango trees are dormant. It’s important not to disrupt a tree’s flowering or fruiting stages.
Keep in mind that it may take three to four years before your mango sapling produces fruit. Seedlings take even longer. It could be more than a decade before your mango seeds produce something edible.
The long waiting periods are totally worth it. Mango trees offer long-term benefits and rewards. They require very little maintenance and get better with age.
Where Can You Plant a Mango Tree?
In this section, we discuss the USDA’s guidelines for planting mango trees. Keep in mind that you can also grow potted mango trees. However, potted trees have shorter lifespans and reduced fruit yields.
In the United States, mangoes are primarily grown in Florida, Hawaii, California, and Puerto Rico. These geographical areas tend to maintain year-round temperatures between 80 and 100 degrees.
Since mango trees need warm conditions to grow, they thrive in areas with mild winters and nonexistent frosts.
Mango tree soil should have a pH level between 55 and 7.2 pH. The soil should also contain adequate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. The soil may be sandy, dense, or loamy.
Mangoes are not very picky when it comes to soil textures. Still, their taproots need to be able to expand far and wide. They also need to be able to acquire adequate nutrients. Therefore, it’s an excellent idea to prep a growing space before inserting a mango sapling.
Mango trees need eight to 10 hours of sunlight each day. Take a mango tree’s full growth potential into account when choosing a planting location. Do not plant your mango tree near shade-producing trees or tall structures.
Mango trees thrive in both moist and arid environments. These hardy evergreen trees should not be planted in areas that receive more than 12 inches of rainfall in a year.
Heat and sunlight will help your plants thrive. These elements will also help to eradicate potentially harmful fungi. Over-saturated soil is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.
How to Plant a Mango Tree in the Garden
You will need to prep your garden before planting a mango tree. Find an area that has adequate sunlight and drainage. Make sure that space can accommodate a fully grown mango tree.
Remember, these plants can grow to be several feet in height. Their large canopies have the potential to overpower low-lying landscaping features and plants.
After you select an area for planting, consider testing the soil. With a complex understanding of your soil’s chemistry, it will be easy to add nutrients and other amendments.
Loosen the soil in your garden. Till to a depth of 3 or 4 feet. Mango saplings need lots of room to grow. Their roots expand rapidly. Dense soil will hinder their chance of accessing water and nutrients.
If you live in an area where mangoes grow, you may also consider planting a mango tree from seed. You can start your seed in a container and transplant it after it becomes a sapling.
You will not have much success planting the seeds of commercially grown mangoes. Instead, we recommend sourcing seeds from a mango gardener in your area. When you plant the seed of a tree with proven success, your mangoes have a greater chance of succeeding.
How to Care for a Mango Tree
The good news is that mango trees are fairly low-maintenance plants. If you provide your saplings with basic care and don’t experience any extreme environmental issues, you should be set to reap fruit harvests for years to come.
Mango trees do not require a lot of water. In most cases, rainfall is an adequate source of moisture.
We recommend watering them intermittently during the first year and periods of drought. You may also intermittently irrigate your trees during the fruit-growing stage.
Apply fertilizer to your mango tree during planting and every three-month after that during the first three years. Traditional fertilizers are written as NPK ratios, with nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
Most experts recommend using a 10-10-20 fertilizer on young mango trees. You should use 1 ½ to 3 pounds of fertilizer during each application.
After the first few years, you can reduce your fertilizer use. One pound of 6-6-6 or 8-3-9-2 fertilizer should be sufficient enough to improve the fruit yields of a moderately mature mango tree.
According to the Treasure Coast Rare Fruit Society, you may also opt to apply a potassium-rich supplement after your tree blooms and midway through the fruiting period.
When your mango tree starts producing fruit, you can reduce your fertilizer applications. Apply fertilizer two times per year. If you like, you can also add a bit of organic compost to the base of your tree.
Young mango trees have very shallow root systems. For this reason, it is necessary to remove weeds (particularly grasses) that sprout up around the trunk of young mango trees.
When your mango tree matures, its lush canopy will restrict grass growth around its trunk. At that point, the tree will no longer need weeding.
Mulch your mango trees regularly during their first three to four years. Mulch helps conserve moisture in the soil.
It eliminates the frequent need for weeding. You can use a variety of materials to mulch your mango trees.
Popular options include bark and wood chips. Rich, organic mulch will eventually break down and contribute nutrients to the soil.
You must use extreme caution when pruning mango trees. The branches, vines, and leaves of these luscious tropical fruit trees contain the same chemical that is found poison ivy.
Urushiol exposure can lead to uncomfortable rashes and even life-threatening conditions. If you are sensitive to urushiol, we recommend leaving the heavy lifting for professionals.
If you plan to prune your mango trees, do so after you harvest the fruits. Remove branches that inhibit weeding and watering or branches that are infected with fungus or disease, but do so with extreme caution.
When you cut the branches, make your incisions in the center of the branches.
How to Harvest and Store Mangoes
The beauty of mango trees is that the fruits typically mature at different stages. You can pick both ripe and unripe mangoes depending on your preferences. You should be able to remove a mango from your tree by simply pulling on it.
When you notice that your fruits have developed blushes, it’s time to do some plucking. If you leave your fruits to ripen on the branches, you can gently shake them off of the tree.
Try to leave a small section of stem at the end of your mangoes. When you place your mangoes in storage, put them stem-side down.
Fresh mangoes should be stored at room temperature. If you want your fresh mangoes to keep longer, pick them while they are unripe.
It only takes a few days for mangoes to ripen. Once mangoes are ripe, they only last a few days. As such, you will need a storage plan for your excess fruit yields.
You may peel, cut, and freeze your mangoes for use at a later time. Mango can also be dehydrated. Mango strips are delicious, nutritious snacks.
Do not remove mangoes until they have reached maturity, or you need to re-up your household stocks. Don’t be afraid to share your harvest with neighbors, friends, and family members.
The beauty of these tropical fruit trees is that they provide substantial harvests. It makes their lengthy waiting periods well worth our time.
What are the Pests and Diseases that Impact Mangoes?
While mango trees are very hardy, they are also susceptible to quite a few pests and diseases. In this section, we discuss common infestations and management tips.
Anthracnose is a fungus that grows on the dead branches and fruits of mango trees. It causes unsightly dark spots to develop on mango tree leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits.
The disease impacts stem and leaves. Therefore, most agricultural experts recommend treating trees during the early stages of growth.
If you notice signs of anthracnose, take care to remove fallen plant matter from the base of your mango tree. You may also consider treating your trees with a copper or sulfur insecticide fungicide.
Powdery mildew is a disease that can have a negative impact on mango trees. Trees with powdery mildew infections cause unsightly blemishes to develop on mango leaves, flowers, and fruits.
Powdery mildew is caused by the spread of an airborne fungus. Treatments include the application of phosphate fertilizer and fungicides.
Bacterial spot causes dark blotchy bruises to develop on the surface of mango leaves, stems, and fruits. Cultivators may use copper-based fungicides to fight back against this common bacterial infection.
Copper fungicides should always be used in moderation. You may also prune your tree to remove infected branches and prevent the spread of this disease.
Spider mites are very common mango tree pests. Spider mites and other insects can wreak havoc on mango tree leaves and fruits.
There are many different preventative actions you can take to manage spider mites and other pest infestations. If you are only managing a few mango trees, you may consider manually plucking off and discarding of the insects.
You can also use a garden hose to eradicate some tiny creatures. For more extreme cases, you may use a homemade insecticide, such as soapy or oily water.
Other natural insecticides include cayenne pepper and neem oil. If you do not succeed, you may consider releasing a population of non-invasive predatory insects.
Homemade barriers and wraps may also prevent insects from accessing a tree’s canopy. As a last result, you may use a USDA-approved insecticide to put an end to aggressive insect infestations.
Wrapping Things Up
We hope you enjoyed our comprehensive guide to planting, caring for, and harvesting mangoes. These fruiting evergreen trees offer up abundant yields of sweet, sour produce.
If you’ve got space and enjoy creamy stone fruits, mango trees belong in your home garden. There broad leafy canopies and fruit-bearing branches will shade you in the heat of the summer months while embellishing the look of your land.
When your tree reaches maturity, it will provide you with decades of abundant yields of fruit.