Rather than going to a nursery or store for a starter tree, people can save money by asking a neighbor with a mango tree for a fruit containing a seed or to take a couple branch cuttings to start a new tree. People also grow some types of mangoes by planting a seed and then grafting part of an existing tree onto the seedling. Young mango trees take about six years to start producing fruit.
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Mango trees grow from seeds with a very high success rate. However, the new plant may grow worse, identical or better fruit than the original plant. Indian mango types and many types of mangoes commonly grown in Florida and Hawaii are monoembryonic, meaning that they may not produce new trees from seed with the same fruit quality as the parent plant. To avoid the possibility of poor fruit quality, many gardeners choose to plant a mango seed and then graft part of the parent plant onto the seedling. Gardeners can also start mango trees from cuttings of existing trees, but cuttings only have about a 40 percent success rate.
Planting From Seed
Purdue University Horticulture experts recommend removing the fruit of the mango and then carefully cutting the inner seed kernel out of its husk with a sharp knife. In areas with possible fungal problems, gardeners can treat mango seeds with a fungicide before planting them. Do not use a dried seed. Plant the seed about 1 inch deep in potting soil with its concave side facing downward. The seed will sprout in anywhere from eight days to three weeks, and mango seeds sprout more quickly in warm climates. Keep seedlings consistently moist and transplant them outside before their roots become pot-bound.
Wait until a seedling becomes about 1/4 inch thick before grafting onto it; seedlings reach this size somewhere between six months and two years after starting to grow. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences experts suggest grafting during warm weather. Take a young cutting of an older tree, called a "scion," and graft it directly onto the trunk or a branch of a seedling, called the "rootstock." Several types of grafts, including veneer, shield, patch and root grafting work for mango trees. Many U.S. gardeners use veneer grafting, a technique in which the gardener cuts a tapered end on the scion, removes a wedge from the trunk of the rootstock to fit the tapered scion edge into and then attaches the cutting to the rootstock by wrapping it in tape and sealing it with wax.
Propagation from Cuttings
Most people do not propagate mangoes from cuttings because the cuttings have a low success rate and produce plants with weak root systems. However, gardeners can attempt to start a plant from a cutting, especially when the parent tree is not producing fruit at the time. Purdue University Horticulture experts advise that cuttings from mature trees work better than cuttings of young trees, although they still only have a 40 percent success rate. Treating cuttings with a growth regulator and either sticking the cut ends in moist soil or keeping them in the air under mist until they sprout roots can work to propagate mangoes sometimes.
- Purdue University Horticulture; Mango; Julia F. Morton; 1987
- University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; Mango Growing in the Florida Home Landscape; Jonathan H. Crane, et al.; November 2009
- University of Hawaii: Mango, General Crop Information; C.L. Chia, et al.
- Texas A & M University Horticulture; Home Fruit Production--Mango; Julian W. Sauls
- California Rare Fruit Growers; Mango; 1996
- University of Florida; Mango Propagation; Julian W. Sauls, et al.; April 1994
- North Carolina State University: Grafting and Budding Nursery Crop Plants
Lisa Chinn developed her research skills while working at a research university library. She writes for numerous publications, specializing in gardening, home care, wellness, copywriting, style and travel. Chinn also designs marketing materials, holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and is working toward a PhD in cognitive neuroscience.