Advice Sought - Grow Mango In Subtropics

heather_2008January 22, 2008

Hi all - new member here.

I live on an offshore island in the sub tropics of West Australia.


Its really hot here, some days up to 48C (118f) and very very dry - we get less than 12 inches (300mm) rain a year, and most of that evaporates as it hits the ground. Soil is sandy beach sand...and doesn't hold water well at all, can at times be too hot to stand on in bare feet without getting blisters. Only the most hardy natives like Spinifex (sp) grows wild here. Soil is understandably salty also.

All fresh water is made by desalination plant, so water is very precious and non to waste.

I would like to try and germinate a mango seed we just ate and grow it out front of the house for eventual shade and fruit in the longer term from the tree and the help beautify the place. I plan to plant it in front of house where the pipe from washing machine, and fish cleaning table drains too. We wash clothes every 2nd day and hopefully extra water & fish scales, offal etc from fish cleaning table will help fertilise the tree.

What sort of soil do I need to create, for the tree to survive and thrive in? Should I get bags of potting mix for this purpose? How big a hole to dig and fill with the soil?

Will the detergent from washing machine water hurt the tree?

Should I fertilize the tree once it starts to grow?

What with? I guess I should mulch the soil surface under the tree - would sea weed be good for this?

I could plumb the condensate water drain pipes from 14 air conditioners to the tree as well, would this help - to get the constant water every day as a steady drip, drip?

I heard that it is not good to spray water onto the tree leaves as it will boil and kill the leaves, is this true? - should the water just feed the soil around the roots but not on the leaves themselves?

Should I try to protect the tree when young from harsh sun - salt laden strong winds off the ocean etc? What with? Shade mesh?..

Anything else to ensure success in such harsh environment?

I'd like to grow coconut palms as well.

Any other tropicals fruits or nuts that might grow well out here?

Thank you all in advance


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ohiojay(z6 OH)

Heather, Wow...growing a mango from seed is going to be hit or miss whether it comes true to type. It is also going to take many many many years before the tree fruits, if ever. I would hop on the yahoo rare fruit group and inquire what varieties of mango could survive your area. If there are some, I would purchase a grafted plant.

A better idea yet would be to contact some local nurseries and ask them if they sell mangoes and what they recommend. You may have to call out of your area...which just might give you a hint as to how good an idea this is. These folks are going to be better equiped to answer these questions. Don't despair though. Anything is possible where there's a will.

Do you know what is coming out of your washing machine? There could be contents in that water that will not do your tree any good and may kill it.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 12:46PM
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Sorry the photo didn't display.
The link below might give some idea of the habitat.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 12:47PM
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I read a thread here about germinating the seed - and think I can do that OK! I already have it out of its husk and wrapped in paper towel, sitting in a cup of water on the window sill.
We will see if it germinates. I don't know for sure if the mango is a locally grown variety but imagine that it would be as they do grow well in the tropics & sub tropics of West Australia.
Logistics of getting a grafted tree out here alive are next to impossible - its days of transport thru extreme heat by vehicle and boats dependent on 7 meter tides just to get it here. So far one cacti & an aloevera is the only surviving introduced plants on the island after 10 years trying. The Frangipanni died when we evacuated once for a cyclone and couldn't get back for 6 weeks.
This is an offshore oil and gas production area - and onshore iron ore mining - there are no local nurseries to get advice or buy grafted plants. Nearest nursery is probably 1500 miles away.
Hence the idea to grow from seed, I'm only 16 so it it takes a while - well my kids can eat the fruit.
I'm determined to get a garden going of useful trees that provide fresh fruit, and maybe some herbs. We get no fresh vegetables or fruit here at all, bye the time it gets here, it isn''t fit to eat - every thing's brought in frozen.
The ability to grow some tropical fruits to supplement the diet and ward off scurvy is probably a good idea.
Coconuts grow on the mainland at this latitude/logitude (20 south, 117east) so I think I am safe with growing them.
Fruit and fresh herbs would be a real good start!
I can use biodegradable/environmentally friendly detergent, and make the water permeate thru a distance of soil before it gets to the tree to try and filter the detergent out a little maybe. I could divert the kitchen sink grey water to the tree/s as well rather than washing machine but sink water has detergent too...
The constant water from air conditioner drains hoses would be more pure but much less quantity than other sources!
Obviously the more salt tolerant species would be best suited.
Open to any suggestions.
Many thanks

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 1:10PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

I put the question out to a yahoo member that lives in Australia. She is largely into horticulture down there so if anyone knows, she will. I'll let you know if she gets back to me. I live in Ohio and I've had plants shipped from all over. Most exotic fruits that we grow first came to some of these nurseries from over seas. So shipping can be done. J

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 2:23PM
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A few years ago, I was living in the Florida Keys, which has a high water(salt) table. To plant my mangoes, I had to build a large berm as the roots of the mangoes should not touch the salt water. When the storm surge of Hurricane Wilma flooded the Keys in 2005, we lost all of our fruit trees, along with lots of other trees.

Coconut trees should survive there as they can tolerate salt water.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 2:50PM
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aroideana(Tropical Australia)

Most Mangoes will grow true to type from seed . Bowen will and also the Banana. It should grow well for you . One of the best bearing trees around up here is only a few meters from the beach north of Cairns , its enormous . I would expect fruit in about 7 years from seed . Have seen large mangos on Indonesian islands similar to yours ..btw why don't you have any coconuts ? A Beach Almond would give some shade and mulch as well .

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 6:11PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

Here's her response so far....

I'll forward it on to those who are more expert than me. I'm a member
of the Philippine Rarefruit
yahoogroup so I'll pass it on to them as well as one of the chaps from
the government research
station. I'll also ask when I'm in India but my current thinking is
that she would be better
planting Terminalia katappa (sea almond) as I can't see Mango liking
salty water around its roots or
salty winds on its leaves. Terminalia is a nut which grows right on the
beach in northern Qld.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 6:27PM
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vireyafl(710 FL)

I don't know specifically about mangoes, but I know people on the drier Caribbean islands who use all their gray water to water their gardens - kitchen, shower and washing machine water and their gardens seem to grow very well.
As the Caribbean islands are small they have salty winds and mangoes grow very well as do banana, but salt water around the roots might be a problem.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 7:50PM
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Sea Almond? Maybe they are Qld macadamia nuts? I was thinking they might grow here. Why no coconuts here? Well it is too dry for them to germinate - they do wash down here from tropics lattitudes but don't germinate due to lack of fresh water.
If planted and watered early they will grow well & bear fruit - many gardens on the mainland near us have large nut producing coconut trees, where they have soaked the nut for 3 days in a bucket of water and germinated them, then planted out and watered thru the first couple years.
I think theres enough height above water table for the mangoes to grow without roots reaching salt water - depends how deep the roots go I guess?
Any other tropical species suggestions that might grow here, most welcome. Maybe bananas would require a huge amount of water, and clay soil?
This place is so barren, I have to grow something for shade fruit, aesthetics etc.
This is the true desert Island at the moment not even 1 coconut tree...
Nothing grows natural here past knee height.
Because we have waste water, we can grow something, with patience and care I believe.
Desalinator only makes about 40 litres water (10US Gals) per hours and runs maybe 12 hours a day so - fresh water is too precious to waste. Plants will have to survive on grey water . Diesal delivered out here costs about Aus $2.40/litre (~$US 8.00/gallon) so making freshwater by desalination using fuel is too expensive for plants unless humans use it first!
Maybe different if seawater was desalinated by free solar energy for example. But not for us just yet the technology is still too expensive and not very efficient.
A pity because we have excess wind solar and tidal power options available to us.

First I must just find the right plants to start with what we have available and in time new technologies will increase water production at a cheaper price, & then we can grow more.

The longest of journeys begins with the smallest of steps.
Thank you all for such valuable assistance and advice.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 11:59PM
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vireyafl(710 FL)

Hi Heather,

Sea Almond(Terminalia katappa)is not the same as macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia).

We have very sandy soil here in Florida and bananas grow well in it, but you right that they like a lot of water, but you could plant one near where the water drains out of your air conditioner-they don't like to be in standing water so you might be able to provide enough moisture. Perhaps a dwarf variety might use a little less water.

I have just been reading about sugar apples(Annona squamosa) as they grow in the Caribbean, South Florida and the drier areas of northern Queensland.They are not fussy about soil as long as it is well drained and do well in sandy soil. They are shallow rooted and don't need deep soil. A seedling will produce fruit when just a few years old and it grows from 10-20 feet high. It should have humidity but no rain when flowering. If your rainfall is so low is your humidity also low? If so this might be a problem but apparently it grows in low humidity places like Israel and Egypt. Perhaps you could get some sugar apple seeds from someone in north Queensland and give them a try.

Another possibility would be the tamarind tree(Tamarindus indica).This is a native of tropical Africa and is said to be abundant in the Sudan, which I think is a hot and dry region.They will grow in any type of soil as long as it is well drained -they don't like wet soil but are tolerant of salt spray so can be planted fairly close to the beach. They are big trees and can get to 80 feet high so you should consider this when you select a planting site. They are wind resistant and a seedling will produce fruit in 6-8 years. They are quite attractive trees and would be a good shade tree as well as producing fruit which is used in sauces and to make a drink. They are grown a lot in India and South Asia so perhaps someone there will send you some seeds - I am not sure if they are grown in Oz or not but perhaps in north Queensland.

That is all I can think of at the moment.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 4:34AM
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Mango lovers in southern California have gone through a similar journey. Locals have planted mango seeds and grown seedlings for over fifty years, letting nature make a natural selection, and have learned from their success and failures. A few good cultivars have come out of it. You have an advantage, perhaps, in that your mangos aren't radiated to death before importing, so you might get some viable mango seeds of some outstanding varieties. Go for it.
I watered my garden with gray water for weeks, even months at a time, with good results. You just have to be very careful of your cleaning detergents and soaps.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 11:32AM
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ohiojay(z6 OH) is a lot of info that you may find useful for your area. J

Table 12: Salt tolerance of different fruiting trees Information

adapted from Rare and Exotic Tropical Fruits: Trees and Plants, Carl

W. Campbell, Seymour Goldweber, Caloosa Rare Fruit Exchange, 1985 and

Florida Fruit, Lewis S. Maxwell and Betty M. Maxwell, 1995.


Carissa (Natal Plum)






Black Sapote

Canistel (Egg Fruit)

Cattley (Strawberry) Guava


Governor's Plum



Indian Jujube


Jelly Palm

Key Lime


Mayan Breadnut


Pineapple Guava


Prickly Pear


Purple Mombin

Rose Apple


Spanish Lime


Wax Jambu




Barbados Cherry (Acerola)

Cacao ( Cocoa )


Cherry of the Rio Grande

Citrus (rootstock dependent)


Custard Apple




Kei Apple


Kwai Muk

Mamey Sapote

Miracle Fruit


Otaheite Gooseberry






Sugar Apple

Surinam Cherry


White Sapote






Caimito (Star Apple)









Muscadine Grape



Passion Fruit





Strawberry Tree

Table 13 List of salt-tolerant fruit trees, tropical vegetables and
multipurpose trees that perform well on the high pH, and very salty
soil on La Gonave island in Haiti .

Common Name Scientific Name Notes
Barbados Cherry Malpighia glabra somewhat salt tolerant
Canistel Pouteria campechiana tolerates poor soil (may even fruit
better on thin soils)
Chaya Cnidoscolus chayamansa resistant to the hot humid weather of
Florida summer and to extreme dry weather
Coconut Cocos nucifera grows on sandy beaches, flooded marshes,
very salt tolerant, salt spray tolerant
Cranberry Hibiscus Hibiscus acetosella does well in sandy soil
Date Palm
Dune Sunflower salt spray resistant
Fig Ficus carica moderately tolerant
Guava Psidium guajava can be grown successfully in wet and
moderately saline soils
Imbe Garcinia livingstoneii drought tolerant
Indian Jujube Ziziphus mauritania mild-high salinity, frost hardy
and drought tolerant; can be planted on sand dunes
Key Lime Citrus aurantifolia very cold sensitive
Moringa Moringa oleifera drought hardy
Neem Azadirachta indica very hardy on poor soil
Papaya Capaya parica suprisingly papaya does well there, though
papaya is considered salt-intolerant
Prickly Pear Opuntia spp. well adapted to coastal areas where salt
and pH are typically high
Sapodilla Manilkara zapota can irrigate with brackish water on
sandy soils
Sour Orange
Spanish Lime
Tamarind Tamarindus indica very salt tolerant, and can withstand
salt spray

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 8:23PM
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Could you make some compost?

If so, continually amend the soil with it. As much as you can make. Also be sure to use mulch around your plants. At least 4" depth.

The more organic material the better in your case.
Used coffee grounds make great fertilizer/amendment material.
Fresh seaweed (rinsed to remove excess salt) could be used for mulch.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 3:00PM
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heather, unfortunately, Im too new to gardening to be able to offer you any advice, but i just wanted to say:

1. you sound incredibly mature and intelligent for your age. (did you say you were only 16?)

2. I tremendously admire your resolve to try and grow fruit in the harshest of conditions.

3. I agree with Jay- when there's a will there's a way

4. the photo of your home looks stunning

5. if you need financial assitance with your fruit endeavors, send me an email and ill send you a few dollars.

6. please please keep us posted as to your progress and send us more pics.

best wishes.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 4:59PM
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Thank you everyone,

My dad helps me, with internet etc, he was a forester/wildlife officer with the conservation department, and knows a lot about nature and native trees, plants & growing things naturally. We used to live in the forest on a deer farm before moving here & I had a pet deer named Rusty.

The owner of this place is a eccentric millionaire who flies in once or twice a year in his helicopter and funds whatever is needed whenever we ask usually without many questions, he is happy as long as the place is up kept and improved etc - so no need for any charity assistance.

Dad asked me to research on the internet how to grow a mango seed we ate and then from there - other fruit species that might grow here.

We will put the requirements into the management plan and budget for them and then one bye one we will get each tree to grow.

The whole family work here, my dads the manager and head charter skipper, my eldest brother 21 is charter skipper of 2nd boat and next eldest Bro 18 is deckhand, Mum & I do all the meals and laundry etc for guests.

I am completing year 12 this year by distance education using the laptop and internet. I also do wildlife interaction tours - turtle watching at night - fish feeding during the day etc for kids who come out here with their parents.

We all have jobs to do - mine will likely include watering the garden and fertilising etc but my dad and bro's will dig the holes and go get rocks etc from nearby islands in the boats to make borders etc.

Its a lovely place to live and we get paid to live here, miracles do happen!

It would be better of my boyfriend didn't live 2000kms away in the city.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 3:20AM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

I don't see the problem then. Just make a list of nice, grafted plants you want to try and grow, then have the millionaire fly them in with him on his next visit!! Seriously though...if you were to present your ideas in a professional manner...listing all the reasons you would like to try this, the plants you want to try and why you feel they would be a good candidate, and how you plan on accomplishing the task, then it is quite possible the man may warm to the idea. Try to infect him with your enthusiasm. When you present your issues with fresh water, he may even help solve that as well. Just remember that he is a business man. So treat this the same. Who in the world would not want to see some of these plants growing?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 7:34AM
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What sort of soil do I need to create, for the tree to survive and thrive in?
Compost would be the very best thing you could do for any plant you plan on growing. its free and you can make it yourself.

The key to a successful garden is the soil. It must be alive with wide variety of beneficial microorganisms and bugs. Beneficial microbes both feed and protect the plants from disease-causing microbes. Beneficial microorganisms include bacteria and fungi are found in finished compost.

How big a hole to dig and fill with the soil?
The larger/deeper the better.

Will the detergent from washing machine water hurt the tree?
I don't thing so, soap is a surfactant (wetting agent) so it would probably help.

Should I fertilize the tree once it starts to grow? What with?
Yes you should. Organic would be you best bet as it enriches the soil and in turn feeds your plants. Any ground seed or bean is good as an organic fertilizer including used coffee grounds, corn meal, alfalfa, soybean meal, cottonseed and other grains.

I guess I should mulch the soil surface under the tree - would sea weed be good for this?
Yes, fresh seaweed would be excellent. Be sure to rinse with fresh water to remove any excess salt. Seaweed would also provide NPK and trace minerals which im sure the soil is laking. Apply it at least 4 inches high and be sure to replenish often.

I could plumb the condensate water drain pipes from 14 air conditioners to the tree as well, would this help
Yes it would.

should the water just feed the soil around the roots but not on the leaves themselves?
Just water the soil.

Should I try to protect the tree when young from harsh sun - salt laden strong winds off the ocean etc?
I would not start this plant/seed out doors. Start it off in a container grown indoors in a well light room that closely resembles the outside sun light conditions. Once its large enough to be transplanted outside you will want to gradually introduce to the outside elements/conditions.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 1:48PM
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I wouldn't get too excited yet - the mango seed has been wrapped in paper towel and sitting in it's cup of water now for 2 days, and no sign of germinating yet.
It's swollen a little so maybe a good sign.
A few more days and we will see if theres any results.
I'll buy a half dozen bags of potting mix when in town and maybe try and find some live worms from somewhere...
The vegetable scraps from kitchen can make compost, along with rinsed sea weed.
I'm worried the potting mix might contain soil born fungal disease pathogens like [i]Phytophthera cinnamomi[/i] (Dieback disease) that was common in the forests down south where we lived - we are on an island so don't want to introduce something bad that wasn't here before if I can avoid it.

I could start the Mango off in a large pot inside except - it's air conditioned inside, and maybe it might be too cool say at nights indoors for a tropical plant.

Bit of a conundrum - sometimes it's 40 C plus outdoors (even at night) and then too cool indoors with the air conditioning. Theres no where "in between"..
Because the buildings cyclone rated all windows are small - theres not a huge amount of natural light indoors.
This will be tricky, maybe in a pot in the shade of the veranda until it gets well established is the answer.

I really fear for the tree when it is young and we get temps 45C plus (48) just about ANY plant outdoors in those conditions with direct sun get burnt leaves. The 48C is a shade temp, it can be 58C in the direct sun.

This is why I ask if some form of high % shade cloth as a tree guard / shelter might be appropriate when the tree is young? I would think direct sun temperatures here could boil the sap in the leaves maybe and kill the tree.
Maybe the answer is a shade cloth covered "shade house" for all our trees/garden area?

Remember this is a very hot dry sub tropics - we get the cyclones like the tropics - but it's as hot & dry as the west coast of Africa at similar latitudes.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 2:53PM
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Here are my experience and ideas. Be aware I have no special knowledge in this area.

First my climate and soil background. I live in the Phoenix, Arizona USA area. The climate here is considered subtropical. It is very dry most of the year with occasional stretches of monsoon. Record high temp here was 122f but usually it hovers around 100 -112+f for 5 or more months out of the year. As if that's not enough, we also usually have a few nights with a light freeze every winter and occasionally a hard freeze can occur. The soil is heavy clay so that is definitely different from your location, and no sea salt to deal with.

Like you , I am interested in making a good go of a nice mango tree. Last spring I planted a Nam Doc Mai mango tree in my yard. It was a grafted tree purchased mail order from across the country. It is on the west side of the house which wasn't the best place for it but the only available one. It was happy through the spring. When the high temperatures moved in the leaves started burning. We built a little cover with shade cloth and that really improved the plant's health. My hope is that once it has thicker foliage it will handle the sun better. Since it is so hot and dry here I watered the plant quite a bit. Once every one to three days it got a good watering. Perhaps when it is a bit more established I will be able to taper the frequency during the summer.

So what I'm trying to say is that your temperatures should be ok as long as you can keep the tree hydrated and shaded. I would agree with the others that adding good compost or other amendments to the soil would be a good idea.

I don't know if it would be practical but perhaps you could look into making a small solar still? You could go cheap and just use a pit in the sand and a plastic sheet or perhaps it could be justified as a garden/backup emergency water source for the house? In that case you could get a bit more elaborate and obtain higher yields. Nothing extravagant you know but enough for a gallon or so of clean water every once in a while. Maybe a small experiment is in order to see if that would work in your area? You could try it for free even with a couple of garbage bags and a bowl or something. Just a thought. Probably more trouble than it's worth but with all of that sea water around...

I have a few other ideas for plants. Have you looked into fig trees? A very sweet treat. The tree loses its leaves here in the winter but during the summer it absolutely eats up the dry heat no problems.

Any interest in citrus? Citrus also does ok with the heat. It looks like some varities do better than others with salt. The trees have to be grafted to get good production as far as I know but it might be worth is to have fresh limes or mandarin oranges or whatever you like.

Not fruit bearing and a literal pain to trim due to thorns but perhaps a bouganvilla? They take the heat here and they seem to also do well near the sea. My grandmother had a house in Mexico on the water and two bouganvillas did really well there even when neglected. Anyways they can be quite beautiful.

Well I was looking for info on mangoes myself and ended up rambling a lot but your post was too interesting to pass up. Take lots of pictures and consider keeping a journal if you don't already. You seem to be living a unique experience and I wish you luck with your garden.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 1:12AM
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treefrog_fl(z10 FL)

A few plants for you to consider:

Moringa Oleifera (tree of life)...all parts are edible, does well in dry, hot sand. Grows very quickly from seed. Tall, but has very lacy leaves, may not provide much shade for you, but with trimming it gets bushier.
Cassava (manihot esculenta)...does well in poor soil, very drought tolerant, loves heat. Can grow to 4 meters.
Chaya (cnidoscolus chayamansa)...spinach tree...would grow well for you. Leaves must be boiled and drained before eating. Makes a nice hedge 2 meters or so tall.
Prickly Pear probably already have these around?
Yucca and fruits are edible.
Natal plum...thrives in heat and beachfront areas. Good fruit!
Pomegranate...also heat and drought lover.

Good growin'!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 6:26PM
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Thanks everyone for the advice so far.
My Mango seed doesn't seem to be doing too well - it split after a week sitting wrapped in paper towel in a half cup of water.

It seems to have sent out a start of a shoot or root so I have kept it going in the water & wet toweling but not sure if the seed was sposed to split like that - this is the seed from inside the husk.

My avocado seed is still in water and hasn't sprouted yet either.

I think maybe instead of a green finger,I have the black thumb of death when it comes to growing things!


    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 1:13AM
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treefrog_fl(z10 FL)

The mango seed is doing the right thing.
It's supposed to split and start growing a root.
Soon it will send out the shoot to be the trunk.
You might want to put it in a pot of soil soon. The root grows quickly.
The avocado should do the same.
Your thumb is getting greener.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 10:55PM
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I moved have into mazatlan, sin. mx. retired and moved into a house 4 blocks from the beach on a hill about 60 ft above sea level. My patio in the back has an older yellow sweet mango tree which gives us much fruit. problem; ants swarm to it when it starts flowering and misting (its own?) sweet mist. not sure if ants are harmful or not. the tree has branches which seem as if an insect bored into them and killed it. spotted a white spider web looking spot, flat against the bark and leaves. a friend thinks it's bore infestation and will kill the tree in 4 or 5 more years.

I am NOT plant oriented but want to save this tree. there is no help here that i can find nor what might kill bores.

any help getting me started in my quest will be appreciated .
I'm growing all kinds of strange flowering trees and plants i have never seen before. what a kick!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 4:38PM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Hello Bill and welcome to G Web.
Just a suggestion which may help you get some answers.....rather than tagging your new question onto the end of a previous post (even if its one about mangoes like this one is) it may be better to do a separate post under a heading of your own. That way folks will see its a new question relating to 'can ants destroy my mango tree?' or whatever you choose to call it and will hopefully reply with the answers you need. Also, check out the tropical fruit forum, the guys on there may also be able to help you....just click on the link below to take you to the trop fruit forum. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: tropical fruit forum

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 5:26PM
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I came across this, and thought you may be benefit from this more than anyone. Hope it helps somewhat, if not at least for information, but i will soon find out :)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 12:18AM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Huh?? Am I missing something here on seeing a pic of a what looks to me like a YEW tree??

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 4:55AM
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cattman(z10a FL)

As for your avocado pit, I have best success sprouting those in a pot of soil put in a warm, warm location. Move to high light/morning sun once the sprout is up.

Many things you'd like to grow need some good soil. Seaweed is a great place to start, if you can get the salt off of it. But I think planting high, light shade trees would be good, especially trees in the legume family as they'll help enrich your soil by fixing nitrogen into it with their roots. Acacias might be good, and albizzia trees. I'd plant them to serve as windbreaks against salt spray or strong sea winds, positioned so that your more tender, prized plants could get morning, maybe midday sun, then shade through the heat of the afternoon.

I wondered if you wouldn't also do well there with date palms. I know they get planted along the Gulf Coast and do well, so they can handle at least some salt spray. Sand and dry weather is a no-brainer for a date palm!

Keep notes, take pics; you have the makings of a wonderful, wonderful book! You're doing what I've always wanted to do - walk into a property that's a blank canvas and make tropicals thrive in it.

Very best of luck to you!!!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 1:12AM
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Lots of interesting posts here. Can you update us? Shading will work wonders. Deep mulch all the organic matter you can. I have grown food on diluted ocean water - to high a concentration is lethal but low concentrations are phenomenal (See Maynard Murray's work). Seaweed is a hyper-accumulator of the salts in the ocean so the "washing of the salt" for its use may not be at all required. Coconuts can grow in 100% seawater (like seaweed can) so this might be a way to get some shade going...

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 10:46PM
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Hi Heather,

I'm not sure if this post of yours is still active but I have a very good fruit tree to suggest which may be more adapted to your specific location than say a 'mango'.

How about planting lots of Muntingia calabura trees? They are called 'aratilis' or 'manzanitas' in our area and they are excellent as a pioneer species in no-frost areas. Pioneer species are plants that colonize previously uncolonized land and are well-adapted to thin, poor quality soils with few nutrients. They enrich the soil and pave the way for ecological succession for other plants or trees. Pioneer plants help condition the soil and make it habitable to other plants.

Muntingia calabura or 'Manzanitas' (literally 'little apple') can thrive in poor soil and is able to tolerate acidic and alkaline conditions and drought. The tree bears a red, very sweet, edible fruit about the size of a blueberry. It can be very messy though dropping lots of fruits here and there. It is also an excellent shade tree (if you don't mind the mess) that grows fast and flowers and fruits year round in our tropical climate. It could be the 'starting' fruit tree you've been looking for along with 'moringa oleifera' tree as a starting, super-nutritious, drought-resistant vegetable.

Somehow, you have quite a challenge down there in transforming your 'barren' landscape into 'subtropical' garden paradise. If I were in your place, I'd gather my friends, family and relatives around for an 'island transformation project' which I'd call as 'Project Genesis'. :) Hmmm... Somehow I feel excited about it already. Do let us know how our suggestions work out (or not) for you.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 3:23AM
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Hi Heather,
I just wanted to make a couple of comments. It seems most of your questions and concerns were addressed quite well already from other members, inlcuding tips about compost and mulch which I also really reccomend.
About the mango. I can't tell you for sure because I live in the American Midwest, a completely different climate from yours! However, I love tropical plants,and especially mangoes as they are my favorite fruit, hence me being on this forum, so I've read as much as I can on them and have tried to grow tropicals in anyway possible, and I've visited Hawaii and South Florida often. Mangoes are grown all over India, and many parts of India are very hot and dry, with temperatures getting into the hundreds(farenheit). Supposedly they fruit better that way. I think the leaves should get used to the sun as it gets older. And as long as you are irrigating it and mulching it,and all of the other plants you plan to plant, I really think it should be ok.
I would really try frangipanis again. Three of the four that I grow seem to be VERY drought tolerant and tough. It can get very droughty here in the summer and they are in pots, plus it's very windy too, so they dry out very quickly. I have a book on them and it mentions that frangipani trees grow wild in the Central American deserts, in rock crevices, among cacti. And I've noticed that they grow very well by the ocean. And they cast lots of shade.
I would definitly try date palms. They are beautiful, love hot, dry weather, are salt tolerant, and produce delicious fruit. Antother palm that you could try is the pindo palm or jelly palm. They are supposedly very heat, cold, drought, and salt tolerant. And the fruit can be made into jelly.
The sea grape is another option that might work. I believe that they are almost as salt-tolerant as coconut palms, and you can eat the fruit too. Autograph trees are also mildy salt tolerant. The sea almond mentioned above is a really good idea.
Try a dragon tree, I think that would proabably thrive there. There are tree-like yuccas that you might want to consider. In fact I think a lot of succulents and cacti as well would be the way to go.
Apparently Crinums are salt-tolerant too. There is also the sea lettuce. Bromeliads- I believe the species would be hoyas and puyas(I'm not a bromeliad expert). There are cycads that you could grow, and there is one in particular that thrives in hot, dry areas, unfortuneately I cant think of its name right now.
Good luck with your gardens. I hope you can create a little paradise!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 4:00AM
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Hi Heather, It's been a couple of years since you posted this about growing a mango seed. I live in a cold climate where It's too cold for mango trees to grow outside, I started a mango seed anyway. what I did was put it in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel, and left to go to my cousins wedding for 3 days, when I came back it had already started sending roots out. I placed the seeds in a self watering container I made out of soda bottles to continue growing till I saw it start to grow the top part, then I transplanted it in another larger self watering container with soil in it, and placed perlite on top as a mulch pest deterant. So far it's growing ok, it's summer for now and I have it outside, when fall gets here I'll move it inside, and even get grow lights to place in the room I have it in to give it extra light.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 2:59PM
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Hello ,
Read that someone might have yellow Jaboticaba seed and wonder If you would consider parting with a few seeds

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:36PM
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