Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sprouting Mango Trees From Pits

I've been trying to do this for a while, and I know a few friends who have also been interested but mysteriously I've found all the guides online to be bad advice. I can confirm that now, because I'm pretty sure I've discovered the trick! My second mango pit has sprouted today, and I'm optimistic about a few more of them. I unfortunately don't eat enough mangoes to really have a control group in my study here, but of the 10 I've planted with a few different techniques, The only ones that have sprouted were handled in the same way, which I will now impart to you.

  1. Eat your mango. Mmmmm.
  2. Clean the mango husk enough to get a firm grip on it and be able to feel the woody material.
  3. Near the eye of the mango (where the stem would have connected) feel along the edge for a flat spot about an inch long. Take the mango in both hands and press into this spot with your thumbs. With a bit of working the husk should split in half leaving the seed exposed inside.
The advice that follows here should be modified a bit based on the humidity level of your location. On the San Francisco peninsula here the air is very dry, so I go to elaborate lengths to keep my mango pits moist. If you live in a humid location this may be overkill. Generally, the goal here is to disturb the roots as little as possible, and keep the plant moist and warm until it's fully established.
  1. Wrap the seed in a strip of paper towel, wet it, and squeeze out the air.
  2. Unless you are very good at repotting plants, choose a pot that you won't have to move it from for a while. I'd recommend at least 6 inches, but make sure it's small enough that you can fit a ziplock bag over the top. Any indoor potting soil is fine.
  3. Plant the pit near the surface of the soil with the concave side down.
  4. Soak the soil with water, and then put a ziplock bag over the top of the pot. It isn't essential for it to fit tightly. The goal of this is to keep the humidity level high.
  5. Place the pot with ziplock bag in a sunny window, preferably south-facing.
  6. Water it every two days by filling the saucer under the pot to the brim. So long as it gets a lot of sun I don't think you can over-water it at this stage. The soil should stay moist and water should collect on the inside of the bag.
  7. If your pits are growing they will turn green within a week or so, then split open with a stalk coming out about 2 weeks later.
  8. Once your plant sprouts remove the bag, but keep watering it regularly. Take particular care after repotting it that the soil never dries out. Mangoes don't have a very robust root system so disturbing it can really harm your plant. Cold can also be fatal to them so make sure to bring your plant inside if it will drop below 40 degrees. Once you have a respectable tree, Texas A&M has a good guide for cultivating mango trees in a home garden that can take over from here.
  9. Enjoy!


Chris said...

Silly, silly question here. What is the pit you are referring to? Pit like the hole in the ground? Or is that part of the mango seed? First timer reader, so I'm still grasping the concepts.

Cianoy said...

Hi there! Just dropping by. I'm making some headway in my mango planting. I already have a small sapling now. ;-)