Do you like mangoes? — My wild guess, at least 95% will answer yes. This sweet, succulent fruit with a unique flavor and enticing aroma has effortlessly conquered the world. And those of us living in warmer climates take up the challenge of growing a mango tree in our garden. Today, we’re sharing some of our tried and tested tips on pruning a mango tree.
A mango tree, or Mangifera Indica, is a tall evergreen fruit tree that can grow up to 50-60 feet (15-18 meters) and has a lifespan of over 100 years.
It has small pinkish flowers with a distinct and gentle fragrance. There are many varieties of mango, but overall we can identify 2 distinct types: ‘Indian’ and ‘Southeast-Asian’.
Besides being sinfully delicious, mango is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Including mango in your diet will help maintain cholesterol levels, cleanse the skin, improve eyesight, and even lose weight.
So you want to have a mango tree in your garden. Good for you.
What we need to know to grow a mango tree
Temperatures. Mango is a tropical fruit tree, so it grows only in tropical or subtropical climates. Temperatures lower than 30° F (1° C) can kill or damage a mango tree severely. Hot and humid are the best conditions for it.
However, some enthusiasts contrive to grow a mango tree in the UK, which is an impressive accomplishment.
Unfortunately, those mango trees are not likely to produce fruit, they can’t thrive in northern climates.
Planting. Mango trees are grown from saplings, but you can try doing it from a seed. The best time for planting a mango tree is in summer. The young tree will love the combination of rainy and sunny days.
The planting season can vary for different species, so the best way is to check with the nursery where you bought the sapling.
Find a sunny spot for your mango tree and make sure it has enough space to grow. Those guys get large. Mango trees thrive in direct sunlight.
Growing conditions. As we’ve already mentioned, a mango tree needs lots of sunlight. It also requires a lot of water. Regular and copious irrigation is critical for healthy growth and further fruit production.
Mango trees don’t need fertilizer. You can, though, use a potassium-rich product to boost the growth.
To prune or not to prune
Pruning mango trees is essential for several reasons.
Mango is a tall tree. If you don’t prune it, you risk growing a giant (taller than 15 meters) in the garden. So you need to redirect its energy from trying to reach the sky to more ‘down-to-earth’ goals like fruit production.
When you prune a mango tree, you give it a proper shape. You cut horizontal and vertical branches and create a perfect form in terms of both aesthetics and productivity.
Pruned mango trees bear higher quality products. Untrimmed trees have much lower-quality fruit.
If you prune a mango tree, it will be less prone to fungal diseases, which otherwise can be a pain.
And finally, pruning mango trees ensures more sunlight streaming through the foliage of the tree and more air circulation for all its parts.
So it’s decided: we need to prune. Let’s get equipped for that.
What tools do you need to prune correctly and not injure your mango tree (spoiler alert: the same as for pruning your lemon tree):
- Pruning shears
- Lopping shears
- Pruning saw
- Gardening gloves
3 pruning milestones for a mango tree
There are three times when it is critical to prune a mango tree, and you don’t want to miss any of them.
- First pruning. Initial shaping and directing the growth of the young tree is very important. It should happen when the initial height reaches 1.0 m.
Cut the main shoot to a height of 0.6-0.7 m with pruning shears. The cut should be made below the ‘ring of buds’ (a bud capable of developing into a brunch).
Cut some lower branches. You’ll encourage the horizontal growth of the young mango tree. It should grow to a manageable size, and with the first pruning we prompt horizontal branches to grow and vertical branches — to slow down a bit. A more spreading tree — that’s the goal.
- Second pruning. A young mango tree is pruned for the second time immediately after the first harvest. It usually happens in the second or third year after the planting.
By pruning, you are preparing the tree for the next season. Young trees show good health after this pruning.
This time use lopping shears. Cut the diseased branches to prevent any infection spread, then cut large branches — larger than 5 cm in diameter. Cut the low-hanging branches (1.2 m and lower). It’s called ‘skirting’, and it reduces harvest loss and tree loss.
During the second pruning, you also cut vertical branches to prevent overgrowth. As for horizontal ones, cut some side branches up to 0.5 m, it will stimulate fruit production. Horizontal branches typically bear better fruit.
Cut some large branches to make sure that the tree has enough air circulation and is open to the sun. That’s an important part of pruning mangos — let them breathe and bask in the sun.
- Third pruning. Do it 2-4 weeks before the flowering season. It’s essential to keep the timing to avoid crop loss.
Use pruning saws for that one. Cut one of the main branches every year, as you want to direct more energy to the fruit growth and not to the record height of your tree. This procedure is called a ‘thinning cut’. Cut the branch down to the trunk.
Trim the side branches. You need to prevent the side branches from reaching the other plants and trees in the garden. Leave at least 0.5 m between your mango trees and other plants.
Don’t forget to remove diseased or dead branches. This should be a part of any maintenance pruning.
‘Clean up’ the tree by removing dead twigs and side branches that take up space and don’t allow the young mango tree to breathe.
We walked you through the critical steps you should make after planting a mango to ensure its healthy and long life. After the 3 prunings that we told you about, you don’t need to continue doing it regularly. Just basic maintenance pruning, and it will thrive and provide delicious goodness.
For mangoes, one of the best companion plants is rosemary, it helps repel insect pests and prevents the development of diseases.
When should mango trees be pruned?
There are 3 essential times for that: when the tree reaches 1.0 m in height, then after the first harvest, and 2-4 weeks before the flowering time.
How much can you prune a mango tree?
Prune your tree moderately: 25-30% of the canopy or the width of the tree. After a more severe trimming, the tree can reduce or stop production for a couple of seasons.
How do you prune a mature mango tree?
Mature trees need basic maintenance: remove dead branches, make sure there are no diseased branches, and that there is enough air and sun for the tree (you may need to cut some branches, creating shade for the others).
Did you know that an adult mango tree can also be suitable for making furniture? Useful tips, mango wood furniture pros and cons will come in handy for you.
Can you over prune a mango tree?
Yes, you can. You can cut too many branches and injure the tree. If mango trees are cut too heavily, they stop bearing fruit for a couple of years.
Can you cut the top off a mango tree?
You can do it after several years of bearing fruit. It’s even recommended to cut back the tops. They shouldn’t grow taller than 4.6 m.