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Growing and Caring for Mango Trees (Mangifera indica)

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Information about the delicious Mango!

There are many different species and subspecies of Mango. They all come from the genus Mangifera, and the most common is known as Mangifera Indica, the “Common Mango.” Mangoes are native to Bangladesh (where they are the national tree) and India, and the Phillippines (where they are a national fruit). More mangoes are sold than any other fruit in the world, and they have been part of mankind’s diet for centuries.

Mango trees themselves are not just fruit producers-they are a tall and beautiful tree in their own right. The young leaves are red, changing to a dark glossy green as they mature. Small white flowers appear in spring; they grow at the end of the branches and have a scent similar to Lily of the Valley. The Mango we all know and love is an oval shaped fruit which comes in pretty shades ranging from a green unripe mango to a deep red, ripe as you like version.

Mangifera Indica (Mango) Growing Conditionsb2ap3_thumbnail_mango-starr-071024-0216.jpg

The mango tree can grow up to 100 feet tall, and has a terrifically large root system, in some cases they can spread underground up to 20 feet. They are very long lived and can even still bear fruit at over 300 years old (and there’s not many of us who can say that, amazing as science is!) Bear this longevity in mind if you are planting a mango tree in your backyard; they like a lot of space and will spread out and live for a long time.

You can grow a mango tree outdoors in a warm climate; they are hardy plants but they don’t really like the cold. It is partly warmth that make the fruit ripen, so a tree in cold country will not fruit as well as one in a hot one.

If you want to keep your mango tree smaller then all you have to do is prune it.  Trimming back the top branches will make it bushier, while trimming the side branches will encourage it to grow upwards. Mangoes are very forgiving; whatever you cut off will grow back, so if you make a bit of a mess then don’t panic!

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How to grow Mangoes

  • Mangoes like a tropical to subtropical environment, but apart from this they are not very fussy and are easy and uncomplaining to grow. They will not tolerate frost, and like to have a temperature above 16 degrees celsius.
  • They like soil that is not too nutrient rich, in fact, they seem to actually prefer poor soil.
  • Loamy, sandy soil that has not been fertilised is best for Mangoes, and they prefer slightly acidic conditions.
  • Watering must be done in extremes as it comes from a climate where droughts follow monsoons follow droughts, mango like to be first very dry then very wet. This not only encourages its growth but also helps to kill off any pathogens or bugs that the tree might not be resistant to. Leave the soil to dry out completely before soaking your mango through every week or so.
  • You don’t have to feed your mango much, if at all, once it’s established, but a young tree may benefit from some TLC in the form of mulch or an all purpose green fertiliser.

 

Mangoes are an easy and rewarding tree to grow, being hardy, attractive and, of course, fruit producing. Mango plants will look great in your home or your garden-and nothing beats the taste of a fresh, ripe mango, picked from your own tree!

All photo's credit to Kim & Forest Starr

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