Mango Cultivation Methods

Mangos are a tropical fruit that grow on trees that can become very large. They prefer leeward, or drier, regions of tropical islands such as Hawaii, but they are a popular fruit in many different tropical areas. This tree is native to Burma and the eastern side of India, but humans introduced it to many different areas, including Southern California, where some industrious farmers are successfully growing it.

Mangos Prefer Warm, Dry Weather

If you live in a tropical or subtropical climate that has relatively dry weather, you can have success growing a mango tree. In Southern California, mangoes are grown in the foothills. You can grow them on the rainier windward side of the Hawaiian islands, but they will perform better in leeward locations that receive less rain--moisture can cause the fungal disease anthracnose, which adversely affects fruit production. The University of Hawaii says mango trees perform best below about 1,200 feet in elevation.

Provide Deep, Well-Drained Soil

Because mangoes grow to a very large size when they are mature--up to 90 feet tall--choose an area with a lot of room that has deep, well-drained soil and full sun. Avoid clay coils that remain wet much of the time. Mangoes favor soil pH between 5.5 to 7.5--soil can be slightly acidic, neutral or slightly alkaline. Be sure to allow 35 to 40 feet between trees and structures such as houses and outbuildings.

Nutritional Needs

You must fertilize mango trees in order for them to give you a good harvest of fruit in the summer. Use either chemical fertilizer, organic fertilizers such as compost or fish emulsion or a combination. The University of Hawaii recommends a balanced fertilizer having an N-P-K ratio of 16-16-16 and says phosphorus is important while trees are developing their adult size. Give your tree three or four applications of fertilizer each year, favoring times before the tree flowers or produces new growth. The University of Hawaii recommends you give mangoes one pound of fertilizer per year for every inch of the trunk's diameter--measure the trunk four to five feet above the soil surface to calculate its size. It also suggests using a slow-release fertilizer and applying to a circular area around the tree's leaf drip area.

Water

Water young mango trees every two weeks if rainfall is sparse during the tree's first year in the ground. During the second year, water your tree once every three weeks. After that time, water your tree deeply once a month. For mature trees, cut back on watering for two months before they set flowers. During the time between flowering and mature fruit, irrigate your tree to encourage the best fruit production.

Pruning

Prune your mango tree after it has produced fruit if you want to keep it a manageable size. Mango branches can droop, blocking access to vehicles that might need to drive or park underneath. When your tree is young, prune off low branches that appear 2 feet or less from ground level to train your tree into a good shape. For older trees, only prune dead or broken branches, according to the University of Hawaii.

Keywords: mango growing, tropical fruit, cultivation methods, mango cultivation

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.