Thursday, April 3, 2014


So you've tried to grow your own mango tree? If you didn't see my first part on how to grow your own mango from a seed, check it out here 

If you have already completed the first few steps, or you're reading ahead to find out what happens next, then you've come to the right place. Let's recap on what you should have done already.

  • Picked a mango
  • Removed the seed
  • Placed the seed in water or wet paper towel 
  • Waited for the seed to grow a root 

After a few days of your seed being in water or a wet paper towel, you should see obvious growth on the end that will become the root. As you can see here, this little "nub" has become a long root. This means your mango seed is a good one and is ready to grow. If after a week you see NO difference in your seed's little root, then it is probably a dud or your conditions were not exactly right. I have found that IF it is a good seed they show signs of growth VERY quickly, within days. 

Notice the difference between the two examples of how to start the seed for root growth. The paper towel method was quicker but it has caused a winding bent root (still good for planting). The water method has caused a long straight root (far more fragile). NOTE: The root is EXTREMELY DELICATE, I can't stress that enough, it will snap right off if you touch it and IF the end of it touches the bottom of your container, if you're doing the water method, it will die. It is VERY important that you handle the root and seed with care at this point!

Now it is time for dirt! Soil is the next step and it will REALLY make your baby mango tree take off. There is no exact time frame for getting the seed out of water/paper towel and into dirt but the rule of thumb I go by is, when you start to see signs of a stem. You can see tiny leaves starting to grow on our water example seed. I believe this is due to the sunlight that it was receiving while on my window sill. THIS IS OK, Don't be worried if your little seed starts to grow its stem. Many people let their seeds grow stems and leaves while still in the water. I however, feel that the sooner it gets into soil the better.

Place your seed's root into the soil. IF your seed is like our winding root seed, it may be difficult to try and figure out which way you should place the seed into the soil. Look for two things.
  • Which way the root is currently heading.
  • If there are signs of a stem starting to grow.
If there is a stem starting, that needs to be up and out of the soil or as close to the surface as possible. IF there is no stem then try to pace the root in a downward position so that it grows downwards. Basically just aim the tip of the root down. It's nature and science and the root will correct itself as the seed knows which way is up.

Q: "What caused my root to go in different directions while in the paper towel???"
A: You did. When you checked your seed or changed the wet paper towel and then set it down again, you probably changed the direction the seed was previously sitting. When THAT happened, the root changed its direction because it will always grow towards the ground, ALWAYS. The seed knows when it is is upside down or right side up. Frequent changes in the position of the seed will cause changes in the growth of the root. Restrictions can also happen because the root can not move freely through paper towel as it can in dirt, therefore the root will go where it can, NOT where it wants. One reason why some people like the water method is that the root grows exactly where it wants.

Dirt, this is where many of my seeds have gone wrong. The seed turned into a baby mango tree as you can see here, is my best example to date. I used a very dry, dusty soil, not black or moist. I have read many articles saying straight sand is the best thing to use for this stage. I used soil and had the results you see here. NOTE: Remember mangoes HATE good rich, black nutrient rich soil. Why? I don't know but when I went out to find the worst possible soil for planting a live plant into that I could grew and has been thriving. Also note that sand would have next to nothing as far as nutrients in it. This is what the mango likes and if you use potting soil for flowers or vegetables, odds are the little seedling will die.

You don't have to go deep into the soil. In fact you can have part of the seed sticking up out of the dirt. It will eventually dry out and rot away, which is fine because the root system will develop and your stem will grow leaves and soon the seed will no longer be needed. It is good to remove the seed from the pot at this time. NOTE: There is also a chance the seed will attract fruit flies during this period of rooting, try your best to keep those little jerks away!

A dry dusty dirt is best, if it is sandy, that is fine. Just keep in mind that your little tree will need water and such dirt is known for quickly draining all the water out of a pot so watering often is very important. I actually used a spray bottle and wet the area the seed was in for many weeks before I ever poured water into the pot. I found this method to work better, for whatever reason, mangoes like it dry. I never drenched the soil and in fact I never even got the soil wet that wasn't directly around the seed. Less seemed to be more at this stage. I did have to water on a daily basis and the dirt would be dry the next time I watered the plant.

Your mango will send up a stem and then you will see two tiny leaves begin to grow.  These first leaves gather sunlight and the mango tree with now be able to start photosynthesis! Wish I could convert light energy into chemical energy.

Soon your little plant will grow some new little leaves. Each new leaf comes from the very tip of the plant along with more of a stem. NOTE: This is how the plant gets taller.

Continue to water your tree and make sure it gets plenty of light. The little tree will bend and lean towards the light if it can't get enough and even start to grow the leaves all on one side so every other day or so turn it around. If your tree is outside under the actual sun getting direct light this won't be as important, usually turning the plant is really necessary for indoor plants facing a window.

I use a florescent light above my seedlings when they are very small. This gives them direct light that is close and prevents leaning or elongating. You can even buy full spectrum lights that give the plant exactly what the sun would give it, these are often known as, "grow lights," and can be bought almost anywhere. I have found a normal florescent light works just fine.

If your plant grows two leaves, looks great and strong and healthy, and then the next day the leaves appear to be droopy and then the next day they are down right limp and the next day they are wilting, congratulations, your mango is dead. Don't feel bad, this has happened to me many times and it is discouraging, annoying, frustrating, and sad BUT it also is a good indicator of what you did wrong. In my case it was always the dirt, now that I have corrected that variable, I am having my mango tree babies survive.

I hope these next steps have been helpful and I hope you are finding success growing your own mango tree. Always remember, a plant will tell you exactly what it needs, you just have to know how to listen.