Growing A Mango Tree Indoors
Tired of the typical houseplant? Stop throwing away those mango seeds, and after you’ve made your salad, smoothie, or just eaten the mango, clean off that seed and grow a mango tree!
Mangoes aren’t just a delight to consume, the tree that sprouts from the seed is a marvel and gratifying gardening project for the whole family to enjoy.
In this gardeninginfo-online.com article we walk you through the steps and offer insightful tips on how to grow a stunning mango tree indoors.
How to Sprout a Mango Seed
If you have the option between farm-fresh (fruit stand) or grocery store bought mango, go with the farm-fresh option. Until mangoes reach the grocery store, they are chilled for prolonged periods, which may result in the death of the seed. You will know fairly quickly whether or not your seed is viable.
The following are two different methods for sprouting and growing mango seeds:
Sprouting from Within the Seed Pod – This method is pretty straight-forward and requires little effort.
• Cut your mango open.
• Cut away the mango for consumption.
• Remove as much of the flesh from the seed pod as possible.
• Find the seed within the pod. It will be obvious and you should be able to see and feel a bulge where the seed is located (this part of the pod will be submerged).
• Using garden sheers or a sturdy pair of scissors, cut away the seam of the pod on each side from where the seed is located to the top of the pod – without damaging the seed. Use caution as the seed pod is very fibrous (woody), slippery, and tough to cut.
• The seed in a fully ripe mango will likely have already germinated and begun growing. In these cases, handle the seed with extra care to avoid damaging the root or the sprout.
• Cut or drill a hole through the top of the seed pod (without injuring the seed) and run a chopstick, thin stake, or a pencil entirely through both holes. Toothpicks can be used as well.
• Lower the seed pod into an empty glass so that the pod is hanging from the chopstick or pencil, while leaving the stake resting on the rim of the glass; fill the glass with water until the “bulging” area of the seed pod is submerged.
Sprouting the Seed Outside the Pod – This method requires more attention and will work just as well.
• Remove as much of the flesh from the seed pod as possible (the flesh makes the pod extremely slippery).
• Again, find the seed within the pod (you should be able to feel a bulge where it is located).
• Using garden sheers or a sturdy pair of scissors, cut away the seam of the pod on both sides from where the seed is found to the top – without damaging the seed. Again, use caution, the seed pod is very fibrous (woody) and tough to cut through.
• Once the pod is cut open, remove the seed from it. If the seed is grey in color or dry and shriveled, discard it, it is dead. The seed should be white to yellow in color.
• Submerge the seed in water for 24 hours, this will allow the seed to hydrate and causes it to germinate.
• Loosely wrap the seed in a wet paper towel and place it in a resealable plastic bag. Close the bag so that one corner remains open (or cut the corner off) to prevent mold.
• Place the seed in a well-lit area, checking daily to make sure that the paper towel doesn’t dry out.
From either of the methods, within one to two weeks, you should see growth. Depending on the species and conditions the seed is exposed to, this growth can be high-speed or slow as cold molasses.
Planting Your Sprouted Mango Seed
When you have several roots (one will be a tap root) and a shoot with leaves beginning to sprout, transfer the seed to a 6-inch (minimum) pot.
•When moving the seed to soil, be careful to avoid damaging the roots or budding foliage.
•The soil should be nitrogen-rich potting soil mixed with organic material or wood ash.
• Keep the soil moist but well-drained.
• Place your mango in a location that gets plenty of sunlight.
Mango Growing Conditions
Mango trees (Mangifera indica) are tropical and require warm conditions with full sun to thrive. Zones 10b through 11 on the USDA plant hardiness zone map are ideal for these trees, while growth in cool regions requires the tree to be sheltered from frost and winter freeze.
Growing a mango indoors enables their growth in colder regions, although growing a mango tree indoors will require a bit of seasonal shuffling. During the summer months, the tree should be moved outside to benefit from direct sunlight and warmth. From early fall, through winter, and until mid-spring, bring it back inside to avoid severe damages from frost and freezing temperatures.
Mango Tree Insect Infestation and Disease
Fortunately, mango trees go unbothered by most pests. Especially those trees grown indoors. However, when trouble is detected, spraying the affected area with neem oil or a basic insecticide will usually get things back to normal.
Anthracnose is a fungus which causes the flowers to blacken and fall off, leaves black spots on the stem and fruit, and may cause the browning of foliage. This disease is more common in wet weather and when it rains during the flowering or fruit sets. Aggressive pruning to remove affected areas in conjunction fungicides or a copper solution are ways to effectively combat anthracnose.
Pruning Practices for Mango Trees
While mango trees are resilient and can recover from heavy pruning, you should limit pruning activities to what is necessary.
• Encourage lateral branching with tip pruning. The more branches, the better. As mangoes grow terminal buds and flowers, more fruit will be produced.
• Crown thinning will benefit the tree by allowing air and light to reach the inner foliage and branches.
• Prune to shape your tree. If it is growing too tall or too wide, you can prune it down or back as required.
How Long Does It Take for A Mango Tree to Bear Fruit?
Under ideal conditions, grafted mango trees (more on this below) will typically bear fruit within three to four years. Trees grown from seeds may take from five to eight years.
For trees growing indoors, it mostly depends on the light, temperature, and fertilization. If the tree eventually bears fruit, it will be in the five to eight-year range, if not longer. When the tree flowers, it produces both male and female flowers, simply shaking the tree will help it achieve pollination.
Mango Tree Grafting Vs. Seedling
Up until now, the article has been about sprouting a tree from a seed. However, there’s another method that enables the mango tree to bear fruit sooner, called grafting. Mango tree grafting is the process of using a seedling as rootstock, and grafting (splicing) the branch tip of a more mature (previously grafted) tree to it. Grafted mangoes tend to flower and bear fruit more quickly than seedlings.
Watch this video to see how grafting a mango tree is done.
Harvesting Mangoes and Urushiol-Induced Contact Dermatitis
When harvesting mangoes, extra care should be taken to avoid contact with the sap. A chemical compound known as urushiol is found in the stems of the tree and skin of the fruit, and contact with this can cause a skin rash. Not to be worried, but the mango tree belongs to the same family as poison ivy.
Simply plucking off a mango fruit can result in a painful experience if you’re not careful. When harvesting the fruit, cut five to six inches higher up on the stem to avoid spilling or spraying the plants’ chemical.
Growing Mango Trees Made Easy
With the steps and tips detailed above, you’ll be able to grow your very own mango tree indoors, adding an incredible (story-worthy) experience and addition to the decor of your home.
Now that you’ve learned how to grow a mango tree from a seed or a graft, provide its best-growing conditions, and give it the care required to flourish and remain pest and disease free, you’re ready to get started.
It may take some time for your mango tree to bear fruit (if it ever does), but the benefits of having this tropical beauty in your home include an experience and endless conversations about a tree that can live up to 300 years.