My old college pal and I love mangoes. We go shopping at the local Asian grocery store and buy Manila mangoes by the box. Teresa is not a master gardener, but everything she grows survives and does well. Succulent varieties that fail to thrive under my care, grow with abandon in half-filled pots in her yard.
In the spring, I potted some mango seeds, kept them in the filtered morning sun, and watered them every 2-3 days. Nothing sprouted. Teresa on the other hand, sprouted 3 Manila mangoes, watering daily. Unfortunately, 2 died and she doesn't know why.
Teresa has been very busy tending to her ailing husband, and one day as I dropped her off, she said “you should take this and see if you can save it”. Haha! Can I save Teresa's struggling mango!? She was quite serious, pointing to 3 other tiny pots that she was starting that had yet to sprout.
So the 3rd mango (first picture below) came home with me. Actually, it might be two seedlings. The seed/root mass is very dense with tiny roots, and I didn't attempt to separate them.
The second picture shows the replanted mango in a bigger pot. It is getting daily water scooped from our fish pond, and is against the coolest side of the house in full shade. Two weeks later, it is still alive but has not grown.
There is only one living mango tree I have seen in our town, that she discovered on a walk in her neighborhood. It is about 6-7 feet tall, looks very spindly and neglected, planted against a tall 10 ft hedge. The soil looked hard, dry, and covered in stones. Teresa mentioned seeing flower clusters that became tiny fruit. Unfortunately, her next report was that they all fell off.
With global warming, we are getting fewer and fewer frosts every year. This last winter I think we only had one frost. Mango trees do not like under 40F temps, and frost kills them. In their indigenous hot, wet, and humid rainforest conditions, mango trees can grow to 100 feet tall. They are most definitely not drought-tolerant trees.
I have started following the “Northern California Mango Growers“ page on Facebook, and just saw the picture of a gorgeous, lush 8x8 foot in-ground Manila mango tree, posted by its owner who lives in the 95746 zip code, Granite Bay/Roseville. Wow.
So, it can be done. Honestly, probably not by me. And yet, any advice from successful zone 9b mango growers would be much appreciated.
Mango seedlings can take 8-15 years to bear fruit. This is just an experiment. I am going to seriously look for a nursery mango tree to purchase this fall.
Hope springs eternal!
photos by Cindy Yee
mango seedling leaves cindy yee 2022