Tropical Asian native known botanically as Mangifera indica. Now cultivated in warm-weather regions around the globe. One of the easiest fruit trees to growbut since it won't take frost, its cultivation in the South is limited to south Florida and South Texas. Trees range in size from 50-ft. giants with a 30-ft. spread to 6- to 10-ft. specimens better suited to the average backyard. Hand- some, large (8- to 16-in.-long) leaves are often coppery red or purple when new, later turning dark green. Tree size is heavily dependent on selection and pruning. Almost all trees will get over 40 ft. without pruning, but some can be kept at 812 ft. with selective annual pruning. Larger selections can be kept at 1520 ft. with pruning.
Mangoes are usually self-fruitful. Long clusters of yellow to reddish flowers appear at branch ends from spring into summer; these are followed by fleshy fruit that typically weighs from 34 to 1 pound, though it can tip the scales at as much as 4 pounds. Most mangoes are more flavorful if allowed to ripen on the tree; they're usually ready to harvest 4 to 5 months after bloom. The trees can be incredibly productivea 6-ft. tree can bear up to 60 pounds of fruit per year. Mangoes can be grown in containers, but it is much more difficult than if the trees are planted in the ground. Trees bloom best when they go through a dry season and are exposed to cooler temperatures. South Florida's winter is ideal because it is typically dry with moderate cold. Trees bloom about 30 days after being exposed to temperatures in the 40s.
Mangoes typically have green to reddish or yellowish skin, a large seed, and very juicy pale yellow to deep orange flesh that tastes somewhat like a peach with flowery or perfumy overtonesbut there's incredible diversity in size, shape, color, and flavor. Most groceries stock 'Tommy Atkins', a selection that is to mangoes what 'Red Delicious' is to apples; it looks pretty and ships well, but taste and texture are not exceptional. Choices offering better flavor and texture include the following.
'Angie'. Selected in Florida. Yellow, reddish orange-blushed fruit weighs almost a pound and has sweet apricot flavor. Semidwarf tree, easily maintained below 8 ft. tall; excellent disease resistance.
'Cogshall'. Selected in Florida. Yellow-orange, red-blushed, aromatic, elongated oval fruit weighs up to 1 pound, has yellow flesh with rich, spicy flavor. Small, disease-resistant, very productive tree, easily kept pruned to about 8 ft. tall and wide.
'Duncan'. Selected in Florida. Bright yellow, oblong fruit topping 1 pound with smooth, excellent-tasting, yellow flesh. Heavy-producing, disease-resistant tree easily maintained at 12 ft. tall.
'Fairchild'. From Panama. Oblong, yellow, 12-pound fruit with sweet, fiberless, deep orange flesh. Handsome, disease- resistant tree can be kept at 8 ft. tall and wide. Heavy producer.
'Graham'. From Trinidad. Oval yellow fruit to about 12 pound, with sweet, fiberless, deep orange flesh. Compact tree; easily kept to 8 ft. tall and wide with pruning. Usually has multiple blooms.
'Keitt'. Selected in Florida. Oval fruit is very large, weighing up to 4 pounds. Yellowish green skin flushed reddish orange; firm yellow flesh has a resinous sweetness, few fibers. Bears late in the season, producing into fall. Dense-foliaged, disease-resistant tree to 15 ft. tall and as wide.
'Mallika'. From India. Bright yellow, potato-shaped fruit weighs about 1 pound; fiberless, deep orange flesh has complex, honeylike flavor. For best flavor, harvest fruit before fully ripe and let stand at room temperature for a week or two. Keep trees pruned to 810 ft. tall and wide.
'Manilita'. From Mexico. Pastel red, elongated fruit weighs about pound and has sweet-flavored yellow flesh. Dwarf, disease-resistant tree easily maintained at 8 ft. tall. Good for containers.
'Nam Doc Mai'. From Thailand. Greenish to yellow, sometimes lightly blushed red, slender fruit weighs up to a pound and has fine-flavored, juicy, sweet, fiberless yellow flesh. Often used green. Small tree, easily maintained below 8 ft. tall, has good disease resistance.
'Neelum'. From India. Cashew-shaped, yellow fruit weighs about pound or more and has intensely flavored, aromatic, orange-yellow, fiberless flesh. Best picked green and ripened off tree at room temperature. Small tree, easily maintained at 8 ft. tall, with good disease resistance.
'Rosigold'. Selected in Florida. Earlier than most mangoesfruit may be ripe in March. Cylindrical fruit to pound is bright yellow with red highlights; has fiberless, juicy, deep orange flesh with rich, sweet flavor. Small tree can be pruned to 8 ft. tall and wide.
Mangoes will grow in most well-drained soils. Water only to get them established; after that, they'll get by on rainfall. (However, trees grown in containers will need regular watering.) Spread 14 pound of 8-3-9 fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter evenly at the drip line twice a year and water it in well. Be careful not to apply too much nitrogen, as this will force vegetative growth rather than bloom. Foliar sprays of minor elements are recommended. Spraying for pests is seldom necessary, though scale, anthrac-nose, and powdery mildew cause occasional problems; for controls, consult your Cooperative Extension Service.