Gardeners with a taste for the tropical mango (Mangifera indica) are limited to market fruit in all but U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10b through 11. These fortunate few can grow their own juicy fruit outside the kitchen door or as a specimen in the yard. Because mango trees can grow to 45 feet tall and 40 feet wide, home gardeners often prune them to keep fruit accessible.
Managing the Mango
Mangoes grow from seed or on root stock chosen for hardiness. Cultivars range from dwarf varieties to towering 45-foot trees and pruning practice depends on the role the tree plays in your landscape.
- Do not prune landscape trees grown for their large, globular shape for their first three years. Remove damaged or diseased branches only.
- Trim ornamental mangoes to maintain their round shape. Keep the mango small once the tree has reached 12 to 15 feet high by removing no more than one-third of growing branches.
- Prune large cultivars back by about 20 inches to keep them small beginning in their first year if you plan to use them to grow fruit. Home gardeners can avoid the process of training a sapling by purchasing a nursery-grown dwarf variety.
- In addition to keeping fruit trees short, trim out upward-growing branches at the trunk, ensuring room for fruit production on horizontal growth.
General Mango Pruning Tips
- Use sharp hand shears, long-handled loppers or pruning saws to prune, depending on the size of the branch. Sanitize blade surfaces with a 10 percent solution of rubbing alcohol and water frequently to guard against the spread of disease.
- Remove dead or damaged branches any time you see them.
- Maintain mangoes' typical globular shape by trimming overgrown branches after harvest in late summer.
- Make each pruning cut at an angle so water drains off the cut rather than sits on raw wood.
- Prune mangoes after harvest in September or October
- Take 20 inches off new growth to keep trees compact.
- Reduce the fan of new growth that rises from last year's pruning cuts. Remove vertical growth down to its intersection with the branch. Thin horizontal branches to leave a few to bear fruit next year.
- Remove one major limb every year to control size. This "renewal" pruning re-creates the tree every four to five years.