What's wrong with my mango tree

shepard.KSAApril 23, 2014

Hello everybody
As you can see in the pic, my mango tree is anything but healthy! I got it from a nursery back in Mid-Febuary and it was a little healthier but now it's terrible. I tried irrigating fresh water several times

in hope of getting red of excessive salt in the soil but didn't help.
P.S my irrigation water is drinkable.
Please help :)

This post was edited by shepard.KSA on Wed, Apr 23, 14 at 2:56

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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I see you live in Saudi Arabia...I'm not familiar with your weather right now...but possibly? (not for sure) that your tree is sunburn from too strong sunlight? Is there a way you can put some shade cloth over the canopy of the tree until the tree gets more established...what temperatures are you getting and how many hours of direct sun does it get?

I think some type of shading not 100% shade, as mangoes need a least 6 hours of sun but if your weather is very extreme that could cause all the leaves to burn. Water according...when dry, they don't like wet feet but they do need regular watering when its young and growing...Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 1:33PM
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It would help- a lot- to mulch that sand. Your young tree's roots are still near the surface and in that baking heat...that's what dries out first. You might need an emitter right under that tree running many times a week for now.

A whitewash on the trunk couldn't hurt also.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 9:48PM
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I believe short, young mango tree should be shaded from direct hot sun. Imagine youâÂÂre a little mango seedling in the tropic jungle: the young trees are surrounded by big tall mature trees, and they only exposed to full sun when they grew strong and tall enough to be out of the shade. These seedlings also have moist soil protected from strong hot sun. If we planted them out in the open as this, the soil is too hot and died up too fast and the little trees will be subjected to stress. I recently used cut out cardboard and covered the soil around the trees to keep the top soil moist. If I donâÂÂt then the soil will dry up in two days. I am trying to emulate the condition in tropical areas.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 5:25PM
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I read a few weeks ago a article about commercial Mango growing in soucal. What he said he learned is that they need to be mulched when young.
Thats true for all plants in a dry climate..Avocado's or citrus. Rain isn't going to keep the surface moist in summer...mulch will. Along with the normal irrigation.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 2:12PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Yes, I agree mulching mango trees are very beneficial for so many reasons...

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 3:16PM
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Thank you guys for ur insightful comments.
Puglvr1, yes, im n Saudi Arabia. The temp ireaches 40 cel and soon will hit 49 or more.
I think u r very right about sunburn, i have to provide some shade n see how it goes.
Stanofh, very good point about mulch. I havnt added that yet but must add it this week.
Sapote, very interesting ,, i do plan to cover the sand during the summer.

Any way, here z s new pic of my mango tree taken 2 days ago.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 5:48PM
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Hi, Had the same problem when I planted the tree the first year. Now no problem.
You should have pulled away the flowers to help it establish. Now it will take a bit longer to send leaves. I live in the gulf too. My mango is larger than me now.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 3:32PM
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Hello MohammadLawati,
Your reply gave me some relief. I hope to see my mango tree in a better condition in the near future. However, I wonder whether you had to cover your mango to protect it from the sun especially in the extreme days of the summer season?
Per ur comment that I should've cut off the flowers, I didn't do that based on the advice of Dr. Mohammed Yahya Hejab, you can find his vids on Ytube. He claims that by cutting off the flowers of the mango tree, you're encouraging the habit of the tree not to flower in the coming years.

This post was edited by shepard.KSA on Mon, Apr 28, 14 at 10:31

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 10:24AM
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I did not cover it, I only let it do what it does...
Transplanting shock and the heat made it lose leaves but I also put a big fish's head near the roots hehehe.
Hmmm... maybe he is right, I don't know.
I think after your tree is established heat will not be an issue as it produces so many leaves to cover itself. I made sure to moisten the leaves in the first year until it gets stronger.
I hope that helped you, good luck with yours.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 7:25AM
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If I may ask, why did u put a fish's head near the root ?
How did you manage to provide moisture for the leaves of ur mango tree?
Thanks dude :)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 4:53PM
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Fish heads..or fish is one of the oldest tricks in agriculture. Even raw eggs can boost growth. Make sure both are planted too deep. You wouldn't want a wiff of them decaying.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 11:45PM
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shepard - I live in the desert in Palm Springs, CA - we hit high 40's (celsius) in the summer all the time. You've GOT to mulch around the tree like puglvr showed you in her picture to cool, and keep more moist, the roots of your mango.

And yes, I would shade that plant, like I think you showed in your picture, for now. Water deeply to encourage deeper root growth and to help wash those salts out of the surface area.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 12:22AM
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Yeah like stanofh said.
myamberdog yeah I forgot about mulching!!!
Mulch with leaves or with some powdered cow manure. Not a powder but it is close to it with many undigested plant parts. I do that because this is what I can get.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 12:51AM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

....way to go Mohammad! Now you're cooking!!!!!!


    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 2:07PM
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Or if ground up mulch is hard to get in the desert... a paper shredder's leftovers would work well I bet.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:25PM
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I had a mango that I regularly gave entire fish carcasses to (buried deep of course to keep vermin and the smell out) and that mango tree grew abnormally fast and gave the most delicious fruit.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 8:23PM
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I've done the fish carcass thing a lot for planting trees. But a lot of people thought I was a bit weird when I buried a buffalo head near a newly planted tree. I also put a lot of charcoal in the hole with the head. The tree, a mango, really took off.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 10:08PM
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You guys have been very informative. Thanks for sharing your smart tricks.
I'd do the fish trick but i wounder if cooked
sheep or chickens' bones have the same effect!?
As for mulching, does it help to put peat moss instead?? Or even Palm Tree Leaves like in the pic.
Stanofh, just to make sure I understand u well, do u mean I just crack some fresh raw eggs and burry them deep like by the roots? If so how many and how often?

Myamberdog, so far I covered the tree from all sides except the roof, I will shade this tomorrow.

Gnaappi, do u mean I can get a whole fish n burry it deep? If so? Should it b raw or cooked?

Tropicbreezent' what about charcoal ash? and most importantly, is it the right time to put it now, knowing it reaches 45 degrees Celsius?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 8:11AM
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Have a look at the link below. Although it covers a broad range of climates it also includes similar to yours. Not a lot of information but some should be helpful.

I had a PDF detailing growing mangos in a climate like yours but haven't been able to find it yet. One of the recommendations was to spray some whitewash on young trees to shield them from too much sun, putting up shade cloth isn't practical when you're planting thousands of trees. But probably yours would benefit from a light shade cloth for the middle of the day when sun's strongest. Have the shade cloth small enough so morning and afternoon sun gets in. I do that for other plants like mangosteen that don't like full sun until they get older.

Shading the soil around the plant stops it from getting too hot and also reduces evaporation. It's good to have a deep layer on top of the soil, but don't get any of it up against the tree trunk. Leave a bit of a space, even only about 10 cms is enough.

The benefit of things like fish and animal bones (buffalo heads) is that during breakdown there's a lot of nitrogen, phosphorus and other essential elements released over a long period of time. The bones take a long time to breakdown and that's providing natural fertiliser for the plants. Some people try to do a similar thing with chemical fertilisers, that can have a damaging effect on soils if overdone.

Charcoal absorbs gasses so less smell getting out. But it also absorbs water and nutrients and makes them available to plants. Fresh charcoal could initially rob the soil of nutrients, that's why some people soak it first in liquid seaweed or fish emulsion. In any case, whatever the charcoal absorbs the plant roots can go in and get back out. Excess nutrients aren't washed away, the charcoal holds them. That's important in sandy soils. Charcoal also has residue ash which is usually high in potassium and phosphorus.

I wouldn't dig down now and damage roots when the plant is going into a high heat stress situation. Probably best just to give it a bit of shade cloth and plenty of water. In the cooler season it should be okay.

Here is a link that might be useful: Climate and soils for mangos

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 9:54PM
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Shephard - I guess you could use the palm leaves, but I would shred them more, into pieces and make a pile of this 4-6 inches deep, except right next to the trunk. Pull it all away from that a bit.

The trouble with peat moss is it just seems too able to dry out too fast, and it doesn't add much in the way of nutrients to the soil or the tree. Regular leaves would be great, and of course bagged mulch would work too...


    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 11:07PM
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Yeah, palm leaves work very good. Just pull them the opposite way and they will come off easy.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:19AM
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The egg method is actually a tried and true way to help plants roots get off to a fast start. Its not so much a fish or manure fertilizer as trace elements as I understand it. You simply use a raw unbroken egg placed under the plant at planting time. I guess you could even dig down nest to a young tree and place an egg and there. One per 2 foot of height seems plenty.
Really,Google egg method for cuttings and plants.

I think yours though could really use more water and mulch first,exotic fertilizers second. Just looking at what looks like pure
sand that drys fast sticks out.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:53PM
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Thank you guys. I'm really benefiting from your experiences and info.

I have covered the mango tree from above. Now, I'm on cloud nine to see that my mango tree finally produced new healthy leaves since it was first planted 3 months ago.

I am thinking of getting red of the old unhealthy leaves, in hope for new healthy leaves.
Attached is a picture of the newly grown leaves.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 3:54PM
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i would think a bag or 2 of compost may help a lot as well.
i would release all kinds of nutrients and microbes into the soil slowly every time its watered.
would also keep the moisture in like mulch.
maybe throwing palm leaves on top of the compost...

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 3:14PM
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yes,yes....mulch that desert sand!!!!!!


    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 12:08AM
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More mulching and keep the soil moist until you can find earthworms in the ground, then your mango tree is happy.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 5:23PM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

Yes....and also...mulch the be-Jesus out of it!!!!


    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 5:45PM
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Hello folks
Well, as some of you suggested mulching the mango tree, I have used some of the old dried mangoo leaves and fronds of Palm as mulch. I've also put a canopy to protect it from the sun.
On top of that, yesterday I watered with fresh water 180 ppm to help cleanse the soil salinity. Despite all that, Today I saw the new leaves having the same problem as with the old leaves.

I sprayed (N10/P40/K10/Mg2/S4.2/Acadian2) and some macronutrients
Do u think I need to add chelate iron,,, I have heard mango trees need this often

This can be seen n d attached pic.
Btw, my farm's water salinity is 1300 ppm.

This post was edited by shepard.KSA on Tue, May 20, 14 at 18:53

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 6:48PM
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craze4mango_tx(9a- houston)

Hey shepard! Im fairly new to mangos but it seems that you will need a whole lot more of those palm branches and other mulching materials you can find! The soil looks very dry! Watering more can only help with your salinity problems given that the water is not salty... wish yall the best!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 2:34AM
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jalilu(Sunset Zone 23/24)


I am far from being a mango expert but I found a useful document, identifying most common fungus, pests, and nutrient deficiencies that could affect mango trees. According to this document (see p. 18) it looks like your tree is experiencing a potassium deficiency.

You would probably need more than foliar sprays, as they do not meet the entire nutrient requirements of the a plant, especially a young one (less foliage than a adult one, to absorb whatever you could spray). Mulching with composted manure would give your plant a number of macro and micro nutrients as well as beneficial microorganisms.


With regard to iron, I guess your plant has enough, as leaves don't look chlorotic.

Has any one tried buried banana skins as a source of potassium?

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Mango Trees Disorders

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 2:17PM
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Amend the soil, it looks sad. add manure you can find it where you bought the tree.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 5:04PM
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As you noticed, d soil looks very dry. However, it's only the upper layer as I water everyday. I'm thinking of using peat moss as mulch!

I think u r right, there z no signs of iron deficiency on the leaves.
As to potassium, I'd be surprised if it really had deficiency of it as It regularly gets NPK high in Potassium!

I have spoken to a very well-known fruit expert n he attributed the fall of the leaves to salinity. He argued that the soil drainage is terrible n that I should have planted the tree on the surface level of the soil to avoid salinity going to the roots directly. To lessen the effects, he suggested I add humic Acid twice, which I did. All newly grown leaves have fallen even before I started irrigating with humic acid! Now, the tree is bald :( But I still water it hoping it will produce new leaves when d salinity z over.

He also claimed that there is sooty mould fungus on the branches n urged me to spray with copper compound, which I did.

As to manure, it's extremely hot these days, If I add manure it'll kill the tree in 1 day.
Thank you for the invaluable resource you provided. I refer to it from time to time.

I plan adding manure in the winter season.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 2:12AM
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I had to chuckle at the mulch. I know your trying hard..don't get me wrong,I'm not laughing at you,I just see myself as a newby growing and doing things based on somebody's advice. I wish I could give you a hand there. But,yes,you need to mulch MUCH more,and at least for a 4' radius. That sand looks like it also packs down hard when it dries? ..depriving the roots of air.
If you start with a new tree Mo, it would be best to mix in as much planting mix as you can...then mulch the same way. You have the climate. Red Seas have Mango orchards..so deserts are no obstacle.
Keep trying!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 11:10PM
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jalilu(Sunset Zone 23/24)


Unlike fresh manure, composted manure (aged camel manure) is stabilized which means no more biological reaction that could increase soil temperature.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 5:26AM
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I think you should get a PH test done.
that sand could be extremely alkaline.
and the PH of the water ?

Also, look into hugelkultur
it involves digging down just a bit, then putting some branches
or a small log, then covering it up with dirt and milch.
since you added material, you should be several inches above ground level.

The wood holds water and also nutrients.
its excellent for dry areas.


Here is a link that might be useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sso4UWObxXg

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 7:59AM
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Hugelkultur (just means mound cultivation) is better suited to short term plants. The rotting timber has a lot of benefits, but the down side is that the mounds begin to subside/collapse. In the long term you'd end up with a tree with much of its root system exposed.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 6:50PM
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I have sportsmanship :)
You know what is ironic is that I planted Citrus, figs, grapes, papayas, berries, etc and all seem to growing just fine except the mango! Although, it is the one I cared for the most.
I added potting soil but still no success. If it died, I'd throw it away n plant a younger tree n if it dies again, I will quit growing mangos.

Yes, I will provide some composted manure soon n see what it does. Thx for advice.

Greenman62, tropicbreezent,
Thanks for the info n links about hugelkultur. It's my first time to know such a technique. I'd have to read extensively about it.

The soil ph is 5.5
Water tds 2400

Will inform ya with any developments :)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:40AM
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Any news my fellow desert grower?

I'm trying to grow mango here too, and it's really difficult and I'm suffering. My case is worse since I couldn't locate any local nursery that provides grafted seedlings/trees, and I'm trying to grow them from the poly-embryonic seeds, and I'll have to wait for 8-10 years to see if they can ever fruit!

My problem is similar to yours, except the leaves are burned black and not dried out, though they fall down too.

I'm interested to try whatever you come up with, so plz keep us updated here.

Here is my thread here:


And the latest photos are here:

Pics From My Blog

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 7:48PM
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Hey GreeningTheDesert. What's up man? I find you a passionate mango grower. I enjoyed reading your experiences growing mangos in your blog. I'm spsurprised that you can't get grafted mango trees in your country. I think it's somewhere in Algeria the capital.
As you know I have grown only 1 tree n I cared for it the most but I probably made devastating mistakes according to a fruit expert I consulted like not planting the tree on the surface (ground level) which made all salts go directly to the roots. I have also convered the mango with some material n I think it increasd the temperature which effected the tree negatively.
Now my mango is leafless n I don't know if it is alive or not. However, in November, I will have 2 or three grafted trees and avoid my planting mistakes to see if the will make it to November next year.

Have a blessed Ramadan

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 4:02AM
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Have a blessed Ramadhan too bro.

Yeah, it's impossible to get a graft here, not even a bud or a scion, and not even in the capital. The mango has only recently started to invade our markets as a fruit, and before that we only saw it on TV :)

So far, I haven't planted any in the ground yet, so I must take your experiment and what happened to your tree into consideration and I hope mine will survive.

I'm searching the net to find if I can order a bud and get it shipped via DHL or the like, so it won't dry if it's dampened in a wet paper towel or cotton.

I won't lose hope on your tree until it spends a year on the same state. I had a similar situation somehow with an apple tree that was killed by spider-mites, and I kept watering it and fertilizing it, and it started to sprout new leaves in 7 months.

Let's keep in touch bro (Y)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 12:26PM
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Your points about the availability of mangos are very interesting. I wish you all the best with your experiments. My mango is still leafless n I still irrigate it I hope it will produce leaves in November or so.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 3:02AM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

I lived and worked for 13 years in the oil fields of eastern Saudi Arabia,..Abqaiq to be exact. Shortly after arriving, I and a few others, ( very few ), decided to try our hand at gardening in our backyards, I wound up after two years, doing as all the other expats did, - plowing the withered/burnt fruits & veggies under and putting our energies to other endeavors.
Sure, date palms grow there, but they are vigilantly maintained by the companies field workers/grass cutters, hired to do only that. Just wait till you are back in a normal climate to try planting mango trees.
Where we lived over there, we got an average of 1/4 inch of rain a year, average hi temps around 85 - 110 deg F for 9 months of the year, although the humidity was low ! Didn't mention the frequent " Shamals " did I ? These are the vicious, blinding sand storms that pop up suddenly and last for 4 - 8 hours.
Not trying to be negative, but why make it so difficult ? Unless you plan to live there for the rest of your life, ( shuddering now ), - wait till your work there is over and then relocate back to the " real world. ".
Here in South Florida, it's paradise in comparison ! ( smile )

This post was edited by jofus on Mon, Jan 19, 15 at 14:04

    Bookmark   January 17, 2015 at 11:28AM
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I once bought a 4-5' tall "peach mango" that was yanked from the ground and thrown into a tub of sand and was in severe shock. The tap root was broken off as were many smaller roots. It was summer here in Florida and was a VERY hot one with little rain.

I planted it in an area with amended soil (I had mostly sand and rock as soil) between a tall house and another home and it only got ~6 hours of sun a day. It recovered pretty fast with mulch and regular watering.

I was a big time fisherman back then and every week I'd throw fish carcasses into holes around the tree and within a few years it was taller than my two story house and gave me enough mango to feed half the neighborhood. :-)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2015 at 1:26PM
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