How to encourage Mango branching

stu123April 25, 2010

I have a manila mango, about 6 feet tall. It's tall and skinny, and only grows straight up. it's flowering at the top. It's got a lot of leaves but they are all close to the center. no branches have formed. planted in the ground.

how do you encourage mango trees to start branching out instead of just growing straight up? do you prune the top (cut off the flower)?

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The short answer is "yes". I also had a manila mango which was a single stem about 6 feet tall. It made me nervous, but I did cut it back to about 3 ft. and it formed branches. Mangoes flower at the tips of branches, so the more branches, the more potential fruit. Since yours is already flowering you might want to wait to see if it sets any fruit before you lop off the top.

Mangoes grow in flushes which can be observed on the stem. The "flush point", for lack of a better term, is where there are many leaves very closely spaced. Then there will be leaves spread out further, then another "flush point", etc.

You do not want to cut directly above one of those "flush points" because you will end up with so many closely spaced shoots that it will look like a hair brush. Instead, cut above two or three of the more widely spaced leaves. New shoots will then emerge from the leaf axils below the cut. If you happen to cut in the wrong place, you can just remove the excess shoots. Leaving three evenly spaced (about 120 degrees apart) is best.

My only problem with this approach is that the new branches grow almost straight up. I currently have weights on the new branches to try and bring them down a little.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 12:13AM
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Hi Steve,

Thank you very much for your reply. That makes a lot of sense.
Can I ask you a few more questions.

- Is there a time of the year that is good for cutting the tree? better in summer or after fruiting?
- how long does it take before you see branches start to emerge?
- the thing that makes me nervous is if i cut the tree back to 3 or 4 feet, then it tries to grow straight back up again. but i've been reading several web pages and they all state the same as you

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 12:43AM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

Do a search on Puglvr's mango pruning posts.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 7:10AM
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murahilin(10 fl)

It is usually best to prune after fruiting. You should follow Steve's advice.

I've included a link on mango pruning but it is from Australia so flip the months to go along with our seasons.

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

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 10:35AM
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what you have is a whip and its normally how a tree begins to grow.

mango responds very well to pruning so timing is not crucial, i would prune it now personally.

here is my alampur baneshan mango tree before i topped it

after; notice the development of four scaffold branches

i follow Fairchilds guidelines of pruning

Here is a link that might be useful: Fairchilds guide to pruning dooryard mango trees

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 11:00AM
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Thanks everyone for the info and links. I'm about to cut my tree down to 3-4 feet. When I look at my tree, I see that it has 2 sections:

1) a regular bark colored trunk at the bottom
2) then halfway up is a clearly segmented section where a green colored extension starts all the way up to the flower at the top

this green colored extension looks like the original stem that the tree first grew from (it was always colored green). looks like it got pushed up now by the more mature tree with the bark colored trunk at the bottom.

my question is where should i make the cut? at the bark colored trunk (around 3-4 feet), or at the green colored extension (above 4 feet)? all the articles posted above mentions cutting around 3 feet, but i was wondering whether this is for a much younger tree. my tree seems to be at least 1-2 years further along. i was just going to cut it at 3-4 feet at the bark colored trunk (away from a flush as steve mentions), but wanted to be sure.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 12:51PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Just so you can see that it does work...
These were done two years ago...unfortunately, I lost most of the tree this last winter from freeze, but that's another story.
Taken July 31, 2008

August 4, 2008

September 2,2008...took about 4 weeks to branch out.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 9:24PM
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dghays(Z10A FL Brevard)

Great job puglvr, that is what I advocate, trimming it 18" to 2 or 3 feet high, I like mine in a low habit, with fruit low enough to grab. I lost a mess of trees this winter, and now have most replaced.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 12:56AM
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Awesome pics puglvr. I can't believe you cut it that drastically. Branching looks great!

Say the main scaffold branches are at 3 feet. Does that mean they will always be 3 feet? Does the mango tree at that point just grow a thicker trunk and start branching out or will the trunk grow taller pushing the original 3 ft branches to say 4-6 feet?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 12:57AM
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Your braver then me when pruning your Mango trees. It hurts me to take off new growth from my trees, even though I know pruning is for the long term benefit of the tree. Guess...I'm inpatient for fresh Mangos and dont want to risk slowing the tree down.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 9:23AM
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stu123 the growth of the scaffolds depends on the vigor of the tree. the scaffolds can be pruned just like the main trunk to create three or four more scaffolds on each one. this is how you keep a mango tree symmetrical through pruning.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 10:28AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thanks guys!

Stu, I can't believe I cut it that short either,lol...just so you know I always have "panic" attacks when I prune any of my fruit trees this drastically,lol... But I have never regretted it once its done and have branched out. Now, If I can just move where it hardly freezes I would actually see these trees produce!

Sorry about all the trees you lost Gary, its so sad how many of us lost due this horrible winter. I really hope we don't see another one for 20-30 years! Glad you were able to replace them.

Tony, I had no choice with that tree...that was a Haden. I knew how large/tall that tree would get if it wasn't "nipped" in the bud at a very young age. I bought the tree for 75% off, I normally would have never bought a Haden for the large size...but couldn't pass up the deal! Little did I know the freeze was going to nail it two years in a row!
But, I also did that to my Lancetilla.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 4:04PM
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I tipped my baby Nam Doc Mai at the ends of her branches. I named her Sylvia. This is my 1st mango. I am not sure if I tipped her in the correct location. Help

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:53PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

It looks GOOD from here...I think you did just fine! You can see on this picture where some of the new growths might appear. It should take several weeks depending on your weather and climate. Good luck!

Here's a picture so you can see what I mean...

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 8:57PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Oops the picture didn't show up...Let me try it again,lol...

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 11:46AM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

Extraordinarilly pugaliscious, Ms. Puglver!


    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 4:05PM
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darkmorning(Zone 9 Central FL, US)

You all sound very knowledgeable so I'm going to post here instead of starting my own thread. As the original poster did, I have a young mango about 5 ft tall just growing straight up so far. I know I need to cut it but I'm wondering if I should wait until after "winter" here in Central Florida. Maybe wait til February? I don't know the variety, it was grown from seed by a coworker and given to me. I'm not getting my hopes up for a great crop because I know they're not always true from seed, nut I'd like to give it its best shot.

I'm also wondering how short I should go. Stu123 asked a question a while back and I think it was misinterpreted and not answered correctly. If I cut it back to 3' and get new branches, those branches will always be 3' off the ground, right? There's no growth from the bottom?

Thanks for your expertise!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 6:16PM
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