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Growing Mangoes: Mangifera indica

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Overview
A member of the sumac family, the Mangifera genus contains about 8-12 species. Mangos are the most prominent member of the genus and have two forms, Indian and Indochinese.

Description
Form: Tree.
Lifespan: Up to 300 productive years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 30-120' high and 10-30' wide.
Flowers: White to pink, five petals, small, clustered at the end of shoots, fragrant.
Bloom: Late fall or winter, depending on cultivar and microclimate. Mature trees tend to alternate between heavy bloom years and light bloom years. Pruning excess blooms in heavy years may reduce this alternation.
Self-fruitful: Yes.
Years before fruiting: 5-8 from seed, 3-4 with grafted rootstock.
Fruit: Large, with yellow, orange, red, or green skin, ripe pulp pale yellow to orange, sweet. The fruit contains a single flat, oblong pit, covered with fibers, which does not separate easily from the pulp.
Months for fruit to ripen: 3-6. Mangoes are ripe when they turn color, when the flower end widens, or when they start to fall from the tree. They will continue to ripen after being picked, even when green. Ripe mangoes will snap off the stem with a slight pull. If they resist, leave them on the tree longer to ripen further.
Storage after harvest: Mangos ripen in 3-8 days after harvest. They can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks, only after they are ripe, or chill injury results.
Leaves: Lance-shaped, orange-pink when young, rapidly changing to a dark glossy red, then dark green with maturity.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: Taproot to 20' deep and wide surface feeder roots. Often grafted onto cold-hardy rootstock.
Wildlife: Attracts flies, wasps, fruit bats, rarely bees.
Toxic / Danger: All parts, including fruit skin can cause dermatitis and anaphylaxis in susceptible individuals. Peeled fruit is safe to eat. Avoid skin contact with sap when picking fruit.
Origin: Eastern India and Burma. Cultivated for more than 4000 years.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9b-15. Young trees killed below 30°F, older trees killed below 25°F. Flowers and small fruit heavily damaged below 40°F. Low wattage incandescent bulbs and frost cloth can be used to protect from winter freezes. Remove the frost cloth when the temperature gets above freezing.
Sunset climate zones: H1-H2, 23-24.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: No.
Sun: In regions with hot summers, avoid reflected heat, provide afternoon shade and possibly 50% shade all day.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Water after becoming established: Every two days in hottest part of summer to every two weeks in winter.
Soil: Well drained, deep, low to moderate in organic content, pH 5.6-7.5 (acidic to neutral).
Fertilize: Aged compost every other month mid-winter to mid-summer. Avoid chemical fertilizers the first two years. Micronutrients for citrus trees can be used at half the recommended amount. Fish emulsion can also be used for micronutrients.
Mulch: Spread 2" of aged compost under canopy, especially at drip line, and two feet away from trunk.
Planting: In regions with the possibility of winter freezes, position in the hottest part of the yard where cold air does not accumulate. Plant on top of a mound if necessary to ensure proper drainage. Mango trees do not tolerate flooding. Some dwarf cultivars can be grown in containers in greenhouses. Place at least 30' away from a house to accommodate the mature size of the tree.
Prune: Trim to shape in late winter or early spring. Wear gloves to avoid sap.
Litter: Low. Do not burn clippings or litter because of poisons in sap.
Propagation: Usually grafted onto hardy, and dwarfing rootstock. Can be grown from seed; although seeds do not necessarily breed true. Mango seeds do not survive freezing or drying.
Uses: Ornamental, shade, edible fruit.

Comments
Check your local nursery for a tasty, mango grafted onto a Manila (most cold-hardy) rootstock. Grocery store mangoes are not the best tasting, just the best for transportation and storage.



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Mango: Mangifera indica



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