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Growing Mangoes: Mangifera indica

Botanical Overview

A member of the Cashew and Sumac family (Anacardiaceae), the Mangifera genus contains about 8-12 species. Mangoes are the most prominent member of the genus, and more than 500 cultivars are grown around the world.

Description

Form: Tree.
Lifespan: Up to 300 productive years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 10-60' high and 5-30' wide.
Flowers: White to pink, five petals, tiny, 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, 3-5 with grafted rootstock.
Fruit: Large, with yellow, orange, red, and/or green skin, pale yellow to orange, sweet, ripe pulp. The fruit contains a single flat, oblong pit which does not separate easily from the pulp. The pit contains a seed which is either monoembryonic or polyembryonic (a seed composed of multiple segments, each of which grows a seedling).
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. Ripe mangoes will snap off the stem with a slight pull. Mangoes continue to ripen after being picked, even when green. Some mango cultivars should be harvested green and ripened indoors to produce the best flavor.
Storage after harvest: Mangoes harvested green will ripen in 10-21 days at room temperature. Mangoes can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks, but 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: This tree has a taproot growing up to 20' deep, and wide surface feeder roots. It is often grafted onto a cold-hardy rootstock.
Cultivars of Note (fiberless):
These trees can be grown in a container or trimmed 6-10' high. They are considered to have superior flavor.
'Carrie' – Florida origin, 10-15' high tree, June-July harvest, 10-12oz fruit is very soft when ripe and bruises easily, monoembryonic.
'Cogshall' – Florida, tree can be kept to 6' high, June-July harvest, 10-16oz fruit, monoembryonic.
'Fairchild' – Panama, tree can be kept to 8' high, June-July harvest, 10oz fruit, monoembryonic.
'Florigon' – Florida, 10-12' high tree, May-July harvest, 6-12oz fruit, polyembryonic.
'Ice Cream' – Trinidad & Tobago, tree can be kept to 6' high, June-July harvest, mango-sorbet flavor, 8oz fruit, monoembryonic.
'Lancetilla' – Honduras, tree can be kept 10' high, August-September harvest, up to 5 pound fruit, monoembryonic.
'Mallika' – India, 10-12' high tree, June-July harvest when mature green, ripens 10-21 days later, 10-18oz fruit, monoembryonic.
'Manilita' – Mexico, tree can be kept to 7' high, March-April harvest, 9oz fruit, polyembryonic.
'Nam Doc Mai' – Thailand, tree can be kept to 10' high, June-July harvest, 12-20oz fruit, variable yields year to year, best harvested early mature-firm rather than mature-soft, polyembryonic.
Wildlife: The flowers attract flies, thrips, and wasps for pollination, rarely bees. The fruit attracts birds, fruit bats, small mammals and deer.
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 Myanmar. Cultivated for more than 4000 years.

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By Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid-6142087
By Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 us, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid-71964981

Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 9b-15. Young trees are killed below 30°F, older trees are killed below 26°F. Flowers and small fruit are heavily damaged below 40°F. All trees receive some damage at 32°F. Low wattage incandescent bulbs inside a frost cloth tent can be used to protect smaller trees from winter freezes. Remove the frost cloth when the temperature gets above freezing.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: Healthy, irrigated trees can withstand 118°F. Leaves may turn yellow at high temperatures but green up in cooler weather.
Drought tolerant: Yes, but with loss of fruit crop.
Sun: In regions with hot summers, avoid reflected heat. This tree may do better with afternoon shade during the hottest six months of the year.
Planting: In regions with the possibility of winter freezes, position the tree in the hottest part of the yard where cold air does not accumulate.
Plant on top of a mound if necessary to ensure proper soil drainage. Mango trees do not tolerate flooding.
Place the tree far enough away from any structure to accommodate the tree's mature size. Some dwarf cultivars can be grown in containers and/or in greenhouses.
Soil: Well drained, deep, low to moderate organic content, pH 5.6-7.5 (acidic to neutral). Some mango rootstocks may provide mild salt tolerance, others do not.
Fertilize: Apply organic fertilizer every other month mid-winter to mid-summer. Avoid chemical fertilizers which raise salt levels in the soil. Citrus micronutrients can be added to irrigation water at the same time.
Water after becoming established: Deep water twice a week in the hottest part of summer. In winter, deep water once a month.
Mulch: Apply organic mulch inside the drip line, and one foot away from the trunk, to retain soil moisture and protect from winter freezes.
Prune: Trim in late winter. Wear gloves to avoid skin contact with sap. In the first few years, trim the tree to develop a strong structure. Trimming off the top of the main trunk and the top branches will keep the tree at a given height without harm. It may lower production for a year.
Litter: Low. Do not burn clippings or litter because the sap is poisonous.
Propagation: Mangoes are often grafted onto hardy, dwarfing rootstock, most successfully in warm weather. They can be grown from seed, although only polyembryonic seeds breed true. Even so, one of the polyembryonic seeds will be a fertilized one, less vigorous than the others, not breeding true, and should be discarded. The other seeds in a polyembryonic set are clones. Mango seeds do not survive freezing.
Uses: Edible fruit, ornamental, shade.

Comments

These trees do well in regions without freezes or where frost lasts only one or two hours.


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Latest update: June, 2020