Mango – By Mark Govan, Host “Florida Gardening”

Mangos are one of the worlds most commonly eaten fruits. The mangos ripe peach colored flesh is juicy, high in sugars, and is a favorite of many Floridians. The fruit can have a color from pale green to yellow with a hint of red depending on the cultivar you have. Sizes of the fruit can range from 8oz’s to 24oz’s and most mangos have a kidney shape to them. Mangos are eaten ripe from the trees however; many of us purchase them in the grocery store. Selecting a tree that is right for your yard involves a little thought.             

           
Some Mango trees are tall upright growers like the “Keitt” or “Kent” and can grow to heights of over 50ft. These trees are great for homeowners that need a large tree which can provide shade to their home or yard yet still offer the added benefit of producing delectable mangos. For those with smaller yards or homeowners that wish to have a small dooryard mango tree, there are many varieties to fill your needs. Some medium varieties like the “Cogshall” can be maintained at 8-10ft. These mangos will still be able to produce abundant fruit for the table. If you are looking for a true dwarf variety, maybe something to fill a larger container (15-25 gal) that will fit on a porch or a patio, try the “Julie”, “Ice Cream”, or “Fairchild” varieties. Some people call these dwarf mangos “condo mangos”. Once you pick out the proper mango for your yard there are a few things you will need to consider.

Mangos need full sun to grow best so select a spot in the yard which gets the most sun. If the only place you have to plant the mango has only afternoon sunlight then this will be acceptable. If you are planting a “condo mango” in a container do not be afraid to move the plant into sunnier locations as seasons change. Be sure to pick out a strong single stem plant and always try to purchase the largest size you can as the bigger the plant is when you start the more fruit you will have. I suggest at least a 10-15 gal plant however, many people purchase the 3 gal varieties but these take many years to produce a number of fruit and I hate waiting. Do not worry about improving the soil where you plant the mango, just make sure the plant is placed at least an inch higher in the ground then what it was in the pot. Mangos will settle and sink an inch or so after planting so you do not want the plant to be too deep. The best time to begin planting your new mangos will be in the first week of March.

After planting your mango begin to water your plant at least every other day for at least two weeks then every third day for two weeks. Apply light applications of fertilizer (8-10-10) every other month. You should only need about a cup or so for a three gallon pot but you will need more if you started with a larger plant. Young trees will benefit from a yearly micro-nutritional spray in the summer applied as either a liquid or granular. Maintain a grass free zone around your mango tree of up to three feet. This reduces the risk of injury to the trunk from mowing equipment or weed whackers.

If you already have a mango you may have noticed bloom stalks on the plants now. Mangos usually produce their bloom stalks in December and January (There are also later blooming varieties) and you will see their creamy colored blossoms forming a pyramid at the tip of all the leaf stems. These blossoms are very fragrant and do require special care. Look closely at these blossoms and you may notice black spots on the small individual blossoms. This is a fungal disease called Anthracnose.

Anthracnose can cause the blooms to abort which means no fruit so you must get out and spray these blossoms every 10 days with a product called copper hydroxide. You can pick up the copper hydroxide at any local garden center. Just mix the product according to the label and spray the blossoms to the point of run-off. Do this every 10-14 days for best results. Do not leave mixed product in your spray tank to use again in 14 days, use the entire product mixed and mix fresh again in two weeks. Repeat applications until fruit is formed and become pea sized. 

If you followed these simple directions you should see fruit forming on your tree through the summer. As the fruit grows they will elongate and slowly ripen in June or July. Once the fruit is full sized keep your eyes on the fruit as they tend to disappear when neighbors stroll to close to the tree. Fruit is ready to be picked when you can squeeze the fruit lightly and the fruit gives slightly. Pick the fruit and let ripen until it is soft to the touch. When I slice the fruit for eating, I cut the fruit lengthwise exposing the large seed inside. Take the cut slice and lay the slice skin side down. Next, take the knife and slice the peachy flesh lengthwise and across in half inch sections. Do not cut through the skin. Pick up the skin side and push inward to expose the cubed sections and enjoy!    

Hope you enjoy this section on mangos. Remember, without plants we wouldn’t be here!

 

 

 

 

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