Mangos are a tropical fruit with a tangy yet sweet flavor. Trees grow large and are used as shade trees where the weather is warm year-round. Many varieties of mangoes exist, but only some of them have the right kind of seed for propagating. The seeds from some types of mangos are "polyembryonic," and these are the kind you need if you want to start a tree from seed. But such trees will not bear fruit for about eight years, so you might consider grafting a tree if you want fruit as soon as three years after planting.
Starting From Seed
Eat the mango whose seed you intend to plant. Then wash any fruit from the seed, using a soft brush.
Dry the seed for two days in an area that is warm, dry and well ventilated. Then open the seed with a knife and take out the small white seeds that are inside.
Plant the smaller seeds in nursery pots with regular potting soil. Keep them moist and in a sunny location.
Transplant your young mango tree(s) to their permanent location when they are about two feet tall. This can take up to one year.
Starting by Grafting
Plant a seed of a polyembryonic mango tree and allow it to grow until the trunk is 3/8 to ½ inch in diameter. This seedling will become your rootstock.
Cut a piece of a mature mango tree of another variety. Cut two to three inches from a twig that shows an emerging terminal bud, or new growth. Then make a "veneer cut" on both the rootstock and the cutting: make a shallow cut as far as the cambium, which is the area where active growth occurs. Leave a small flap of bark on the rootstock piece---this will provide a secure area for the cutting to rest.
Place both cut areas together and secure them with grafting tape. Leave your grafted tree in a shady area for about three weeks, until the graft begins to grow. After the cutting piece develops two sets of leaves, cut the rootstock piece just above the grafted area. If any shoots emerge from the rootstock piece in the future, cut them off.
About this Author
Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi‘iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara 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.com and eHow.com. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.