Each time I eat a sweet and juicy mango I’ve always wondered if I can grow a mango tree from a seed. I know that mangoes are tropical fruit, but here in the U.S. if you live in planting zones 10b to 11, you can grow them. So one day in May I finally tried it. I happened to live in zone 10b here in California and yes, I discovered you can really grow it. Spring is the best time to do this.
After I ate a perfect mango, I cut most of the pulp from the pit (seed) and let it dry in the sun for 1 day. Drying gets rid of any leftover pulp. With a paring knife I carefully opened the pod on top to reveal an inner bean-shaped seed. It is important not to puncture the inner seed with the knife. Then in a small bowl I soaked the seed in water for 1 day. Finally, I gently peeled off the brown coating on the seed.
Growing up in the Philippines I am aware of how big a mango tree can grow (up to 35 feet), so I planned on growing it in a pot. Besides, I have no more room in my yard for a big tree. I figured if it’s in a pot, I can control the height by pruning it later.
The next thing to do is to prepare potting soil in a pot. To start, I used a 1-gallon plastic pot from the nursery with drainage holes. Because I already have an organic potting mix with nutrients in it, I used that. Then I planted the seed 1 inch deep and watered it well. I also made sure to leave 1 inch space from the rim of the pot. Soon the pot goes to a sunny spot in the garden. At this point, it is important to water it regularly. After 10 days, it sprouted beautifully.
The first few leaves are rosy in color, then it turns dark green. When the mango tree reaches about 3 feet, I will transplant it in a bigger 20-inch pot. Then I will start pruning the top by 1/3 to encourage branching. Flowers do grow in cold nights (below 60ºF) on the branch ends. More branches, more flowers right? All I need is to water it regularly and apply liquid fertilizer for tomatoes as it grows through summer.
When winter weather comes and temperature drops below 35ºF it can damage the plant. I will have to move the pot in the greenhouse or indoors and make sure it is a getting sunlight from a window. Next spring, I can bring out the pot again. It may take a few years for a mango tree to bear fruit, but there’s no rush. I’m looking forward to smell the fragrant flowers and to see the fruit.