If you’ve ever seen a 40-foot-tall, full-size mango tree (Mangifera indica), it’s hard to imagine one small enough to grow in a pot. Fortunately, dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties grow happily in containers on a patio or even indoors. Mango varieties well suited for containers include “Brooks”, “Julie”, “Lancetilla” and “Mallika”. Mango trees grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones10b through 11. When you plant a mango tree in a container, you can expect fruit in about three years.
A Mango tree grown on its native place can grow huge. Some cultivars can grow up to 32 meters tall. And there are more than 500+ varieties of mangoes grown widely. A typical mango tree, if cared carefully can live up to 100 of years.
Propagating it from seed is a bad idea because it may take up to 8 years to produce fruit and even after that there’s no guarantee that if it’ll ever produce a fruit or not and of which variety. The smart idea is to buy a grafted plant. Many mango cultivars are available these days, so it’s best to ask at the local nursery for the dwarf variety that does well in the container.
A grafted mango plant takes at least 3 years to fruit. In its first 3 to 5 years it grows larger and produces fewer flowers and fruits. More productive fruiting starts after the fifth year of planting. The best time for planting mango tree is spring. However, in their native habitat like India, mangoes are planted before the beginning of the rainy season (July, August) or after the rainy season.
A mango tree needs a large container, but avoid going too big too fast. When you get a new mango tree, pot it in a container 3 inches larger than the nursery pot. As it grows, increase the pot size. Mango trees need repotting every few years. You can tell it’s time to repot when:
- water collects on the surface of the potting soil instead of soaking in
- roots become visible on the surface of the potting soil
- the potting soil starts to pull away from the edge of the container or cracks.
As a general guide, a 5-foot-tall mango tree will need a 15-gallon container.
Whether potting up for the first time or repotting a mango tree, use standard potting soil and a container that has holes in the bottom for drainage. Put a little soil in the bottom of the container, and then set the root ball with the base of the trunk about 1 inch below the lip of the container.
Add or remove potting soil under the roots as necessary, and fill the soil around the roots up to the base of the trunk. This leaves 1 inch of space for ongoing watering and fertilizing. Look for potting soil with a pH range of 6 to 6.5.
Watering and Soil Moisture
Water when the top 2 inches of the soil dries out and feels crumbly under your fingers. Fill the space between the soil and the lip of the pot with water, and allow it to settle through. Continue until a little extra water leaks out the bottom drainage holes so you know the water penetrated all the way through to the bottom of the soil.
Put a saucer or tray under the pot to protect surfaces, but make sure to empty it after watering. When liquid builds up in the saucer it can restrict air movement and suffocate the roots.
Sun and Temperature
You can grow mango trees in pots outdoors year-round in mild climates, but if winter temperatures drop to or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need to bring it in for the winter.
Outside, keep the container in a sunny spot where it gets at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Indoors, pick a south-facing window with lots of bright light.
Fertilize with a fertilizer designed for tropical and citrus fruits. Use 1 tablespoon mixed in 1 gallon of water poured into the soil around the mango tree. Wait six weeks after potting or repotting to fertilize. Then fertilize once a month. Continue fertilizing mangos year-round to supply steady nutrients.