Q: I planted two mango seeds which have sprouted in pots. Will they grow into a tree shape or a bush?
A: Since a mango plant will not survive outdoor winter temperatures in Atlanta, you had better raise your mango in a pot as a small bush. In the tropics, they can reach ninety feet tall! The leaves are quite attractive but you will not have enough light indoors to cause them to flower or set fruit. You train a mango to a bush form just like you do an avocado: by pinching out the growing tip of a branch each time it reaches six inches in length. If the plants are in good, bright light, fertilize them every month. If they don’t get direct sunshine through a window, fertilize them every two months. Water the plants whenever a finger, thrust into the soil, comes back dry. Do not keep the soil wet all the time – let it dry out a bit between waterings.
Q: Last week you told how to care for a sprouted mango tree. But how do you go about sprouting a mango seed in the first place?
A: The large seed inside each mango fruit will sprout easily in most cases. Peel a ripe mango and enjoy eating the sweet fruit with cheese and crackers. The oblong seed that is left can be inserted half-way into a small pot filled with potting soil. Keep the soil moist and in a sunny window. In just a couple of weeks the seed will sprout. Pinch out the tip of the sprout when it is twelve inches tall and do the same to subsequent sprouts when they grow six inches long. A fabulous source of information on how to culture tropical fruit in colder climates is an organization called the North American Fruit Explorers. Write them at NAFEX, 1716 Apples Rd.., Chapin, IL 62628 and request membership information.