A group of evergreen, tropical Asiatic trees. Only one, M. indica, the Mango, is commonly known in the United States. This splendid tree, under favorable conditions, will attain a height of 90 ft. and a spread of 120 ft. or more. It is a native of northern India, Burma and Malaya, and is widely planted in the tropics for its delicious fruit. In the United States its outdoor cultivation is limited to southern Florida and the warmest parts of California.
Mangifera belongs to the Cashew family, Anacardiaceae, and thus is a relative of the Poison Ivy. Its name is derived from Mango, the Hindu name for the fruit, and fero, to bear.
Soil and Planting. Mangoes may be grown on a variety of soils, and they are notorious for succeeding better than most trees where the soil is shallow and impervious, provided subsurface drainage is good. In poor soils Mangoes respond to fertilizers, but excessive applications of nitrogen tend to reduce the crops of fruiting-sized trees and are to be avoided.
Planting is best done in spring, although it may also be carried out in late summer or fall. A spacing of 30-35 ft, between the trees will usually be adequate, although at such close spacing pruning will eventually have to be employed to keep the trees in bounds and prevent them from interfering with the growth of their neighbors. Before planting, it is advisable to improve the site by mixing with the soil a liberal-amount of compost or decayed manure. After planting, the soil surface should be kept mulched through the early years of growth.
For the first five years or so after planting, every effort should be made to encourage strong shoot and leaf growth. Fertilizer should be applied from time to time, and the trees should not be permitted to suffer from lack of moisture during the growing season. Once the trees have reached a fair size and are expected to fruit, less effort should be made to induce vegetative growth, because excess in this direction will impair fruit bearing.
For good results, it is important that the growth of trees of fruiting size be checked for several weeks before the flowering season. At blooming time, dry weather will help to encourage good pollination—but dryness of the soil is harmful then. From flowering time on through the period when the fruits are developing, ample water supplies at the roots are essential; however, less moisture is desirable when the fruit approaches maturity.
Propagation. Fresh seeds of Mangoes, planted preferably in sterilized soil, germinate rather irregularly in about three weeks, or more quickly, if the endocarp (husk) is removed from the seed before planting. Seeds that have been allowed to dry usually fail to germinate.
Seedling trees give rise to trees that bear fruits of very variable quality, and usually are very much less desirable than those of recognized named varieties.
Named varieties are propagated by air-layering, inarching and, more frequently, by budding or grafting on seedling stocks.
Varieties. A great many varieties of Mangoes are cultivated in tropical regions. In Florida the variety Hayden is one of the finest, but, unfortunately, does not bear very dependably. New varieties raised locally are now gaining favor and are being planted. Among these are Edward, Fascell, Kent, Zill, Julie, Whitney and Brooks.