California Mango Pruning and ID

kaisersoze(10a - San Diego)June 18, 2013


I recently "inherited" a dwarf (?) Mango when I purchased my house in San Diego. It is probably several decades old (~6in diameter trunk), about 4 ft tall and maybe 7 ft in diameter. It had been neglected for a few years and I have been able to revive it from the advice I've read on this forum. Now I've got lots of little mangos, crossing my fingers about the fruit drop, expecting probably next year to have little or no fruit since there are so many this year.

I have a question about pruning. I've watched all the mango videos from:

Both of which are extemely informative about growing mango (and lychee). However, they recommend tipping when the fruit is harvested, in Florida. This is supposed to allow for enough time for the new growth to harden off.

But in southern California, mangos aren't supposed to be ready for picking until Sept or Oct. So do we still tip them when we pick them? If not, when should I tip them? Should I tip them at all? Right now, there are a few branches without fruit, should I tip those now to encourage fruiting for next year? Any additional SoCal specific advice would be greatly appreciated.

Since I inherited this tree, I have no idea if this is a dwarf or just the typical SoCal stature. Anyone care to hazard a guess on the cultivar of this mango? I attached a few pictures below of the habit, inflorescence, and current small fruit which are purplish in color.

April 8:

April 8:

May 22:

June 2:

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That looks a whole lot like a Manila Mango that was frozen back in 2007. Good luck,they are tough plants and yours seems to have gotten past the recovery phase and is now growing normally. I would advise...thin the fruit severely or you might tax the plants resources.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 12:30PM
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kaisersoze(10a - San Diego)

I thought they drop fruit on their own and thinning isn't required. Or is it going to tax the plant because it is still growing and recovering?

What makes you say freeze damage? Is it the white patches on the leaves that are dry, almost like a burn (mostly affecting south facing leaves)? Are you saying this tree was much bigger and much of it died in 2007 due to freeze (and subsequently pruned)?

Sorry for all the questions, just curious to learn more about the tree

Here's a closeup of the trunk and some scaffolds:

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 2:27PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I just wanted to say that is SO cool about your Mango tree, that definitely one of the shortest (dwarf)mango tree with such a big trunk size I've seen, Congrats on the blooms and small fruits.

I do live in FL, so keep that in mind. As far as tipping is best to prune/tip them right after harvest. But since you live in CA and your fruits ripen much later than ours... I would probably forget about tipping them this year. If you wanted to tip the ones without any blooms/fruits that should be okay ( I have done this before) and have not seen any negative affects...but its totally your call. If for some reason you lose all your fruits, you will be able to prune them long as you do it by late August...

I did however tip my Keitt mango right after harvest last summer (mine didn't ripen till late Sept.) and I noticed they did NOT bloom or fruit this year...I'm guessing its because I tipped/pruned it so late in the year and it didn't have a chance to flush, harden off and get the necessary "rest/dormant" state before January which is when we usually get if it were me I wouldn't prune them this year...just my 2 cents,lol...

As far as thinning out the fruits...Mother nature is usually pretty good at doing that on its own. The tree is pretty good at knowing how much it can hold and the weak ones will fall off... I wouldn't take off too many, because there is NO guarantee the ones you "leave on" will not fall on its own...

Thanks for the pictures and good luck on your nice dwarf mango...Please let us know if you find out the variety?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 2:31PM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

Hmmmmm....advice is always tough with a plant like this. If it is a Manila, it will become (at least mine has ) an alternate bearing tree, but you won't know anything like that till next year. But my Manila does not have the bright reddish leaves that your's has on its new growth. My manila has more brownish-red new growth. The only plant I have with very red leaves like that is my Glenn. You would be lucky if it's one of those!

Keep in mind, I'm out in Palm Springs so my severe heat probably creates some differences in mango behavior, but I would tend to NOT tip/prune your tree if it's some height and size you want with it. Our growing season after the mangoes are picked is often not a long period of time, and since you already seem to have a nice scaffold on this tree, I'd just feed it some diluted liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks, after the fruits are picked, and up until say the middle of November - I think that would be decent general advice.

Nancy, (Puglvr) may correct me on this, but I've heard the advice for fertilizing is to not do it during flowering and fruiting time, but I must say, I actually do it from March till November 15th or so. I only know, at least with the small, new mango plants, that I've gotten more growth by fertilizing this way than fertilizing outside this time period. But again, I think it's because our growing season just seems a good 24-30% shorter than Florida's.

I mean Stan might be right - it could have suffered a die-back from some past cold weather....or.....a lack of water will also make it grow slowly....Hopefully, some mature fruit might give it a better chance at ID'ing it.....

So cool you inherited this tree, kaiser. I would also, in this case, tend to agree with Puglvr about not pulling off any baby mangoes. Most times it will drop the fruit it can't carry to maturity, though there are trees that probably hold too many and really shut down their growth for a calendar year. That happened with my Pickering last year, so I learned with that one that I have to be careful what I let stay on the tree. This year they all got yanked and sure enough, i"ve gotten one growth flush so far on this dwarf tree.

Keep us posted with the pics.....exciting, eh???


    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 2:52PM
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They will shed..shed hundreds of protofruits,but still hang on to a few dozen- more then whats healthy for the tree going into next winter,frost or no. California rules are different.
Yes,the big trunk,short height is a giveaway to significant freeze damage at one time. It could be by some reason nobody can it was transplanted years ago.

Your pics show that its not getting enough water or fertilizer. It would help too,if you enlarged the area that mulched..and deeper too. In winter that can be raked by to let the sun in,if it hasn't rotted away by then.
But,that's all frosting on the cake..Enjoy the mangofruits of your labors!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 1:37PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Here's a Video that might be of interest...I had NO idea just how low the percentage of the blooms/fruits actually make it to maturity...really very Sad :o(

Here is a link that might be useful: Mango Fruit Set Percentage...You Tube

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 1:41PM
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There have been posts by Rodney here of true tree sized Mango's in the Los Angeles basin. Those tree's have never seen 32f,I'm sure. And the big cities heat island effect makes for a near subtropical climate with warm summers. San Diego's coast summers remind me of here in the bay area..mid 70's. Any frost damage to a Mango takes years to overcome. And why I was just advising not to push that small tree for maximum yields.
When you get that Mango to be a true tree,like in L.A.? Then you can let it do what it wants with fruits. For now,build a healthy plant for the winter..and a few fruit is ok.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 3:06PM
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kaisersoze(10a - San Diego)

I'm about 15 minutes inland from the ocean in San Diego. We get up to the 100's at the peak of summer with rare marine cloud/fog cover, and as low as the high 30's on the coldest winter nights.

I fertilized around valentines and memorial day with the granular vigoro citrus avocado and mango fertilizer. I did that since that's when I've decided to fertilize my avocados and citrus trees at the same time. I plan to fertilize heavily once the fruits are picked. Which liquid fertilizer would you recommend? Foliage pro? Fish emulsion?

Right now, I'm seeing some new buds at the tips even without tipping (on tips with fruit as well). Does tipping encourage even more budding at the tipped points, or does it just encourage the budding that I already see on some tips?

I'll update with some more pictures as the fruits mature. They can ripen on the tree until some wrinkles appear, right (assuming the pests dont get to them first)?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:20PM
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They can ripened until they either fall off when you touch the stems..or they are in full color,and sometimes they bleed little drops of water.
The older I get,the more I find pushing growth with regular and frequent fertilizing is a winner idea. You NEVER want to burn them,but I think you could do a once a month in long as you water and feed at half strength. A good Citrus box fertilizer is the most efficient. When its larger,then go the compost route if you want.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:31PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I agree with Stan about fertilizing once a month (lightly) no more than 1/2 strength but NOT while its fruiting or else it will encourage new growths and the fruits "might" drop? If you want to just give it a little boost add a sprinkle (1/4 strength) since the tree looked to have been neglected for many years, it probably would appreciate a bit of nutrients...

Once the fruits are picked you might want to give the tree some "Foliar Feeding" something like Dyna Gro (follow their instructions) or Citrus Nutritional Spray by Southern AG...or even an all purpose Fertilizer like Miracle Grow at maybe 1/2 to 3/4 strength mixed with water once a month till early October....Apply in the early evening so the leaves have a chance to dry out before the sun's rays don't sunburn it!

Tipping it will encourage those branches that you tip...if they are tipping now you won't need to do anything unless you want to "shape/prune" the tree after the fruits have been picked, but keep in mind that you have a much shorter growing window (like Mangodog) mentioned and pruning it late in the year could hinder your fruits next year...Mango trees need to flush new growths and harden completely and go through a "rest period" before it will bloom in late winter...this takes appx. 3-4 months...

I know because I pruned my Keitt tree late October 2012 and it did NOT bloom the winter of 2013 so I had NO fruits this year....this time I made sure I don't prune anything after July.
Just my 2 cents...Good luck and looking forward to updates!!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 10:50AM
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kaisersoze(10a - San Diego)

Fruitlets starting to drop now:

New growth on tips with dropped fruits:

Can you identify whats causing the fruit damage and what I can do to prevent further damage? I've seen ants on some branches, but haven't seen any other possible pests. Birds doing this? Time for bird netting?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 2:32PM
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I never had a bird problem with any Mango. You might have had a curious Mockingbird take a taste..and then left it alone. The shrivel is part mango shedding excess fruit and part,you're not watering enough.
It will only do better on more water. Its been a warm to hot spring and summer in California,and what usually works at 75f needs to be doubled right now for 90+.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 3:14PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

In FL I have birds, raccoons, squirrels, possums and gosh knows what else eat my Mango fruits and Lychee also...they even eat the green ones :o(

To be fair to the birds though...they only eat mine when they are ripe or very close to being ripe...only the bigger Critters eat my mango Green!!

I have had those injuries/damage to my mangoes as well, animals and or fungus have been the culprit...

Its VERY frustrating all that hard work only to be eaten/chewed up by Critters!!!

Green mangoes being eaten attacked!!

Good luck with your mango

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 3:53PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

They've even chewed right through the aluminum window screening I used to wrap them up...BTW this works great for the birds...but NOT the other Critters/Animals :o(

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 3:58PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

BTW, once the mango fruitlets fall of and there are no mango fruits left on that long leafless brown stem where the mango hangs from you can either break that long stem off or trim it with some clippers (they will eventually fall off anyways) I usually do this to promote new growths on that branch...only do this to the long stem that is not holding any fruits...

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 4:07PM
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MAngo ID -- I will have a shot here: not a Manila yellow fruit, but I think it's a red/green fruit variety; the pointed leaves exclude it from Valencia Pride; perhaps it's a Kent.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 3:39PM
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Its the typical Laverne Manila Mango..hardy plants that just need some help when winters hit 32f. They are about the same as the Mexican grown Atulfo yellow Mango's or the Champagne yellows. Home grown? maybe even sweeter,smoother flesh.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 6:58PM
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Btw Kaiser, I have a Mango also...and a few days ago threw some Lilly Miller fertilizer on it I had. Its done a great job of deepening the green in the leaves. What I notice about Lilly Miller or EB (?) Stone fertilizers that are in boxes? They have that familiar guano type aroma!. You don't get that in pellets. They might have iron that's very soluble too.
And keep us updated on that Mango of yours.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 1:19PM
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kaisersoze(10a - San Diego)

Update on my inherited backyard mango:
New leaves have really flushed out a lot over the last 2 months without any pruning on my part. Here are pics from May 22 and today Sept 22 showing the difference.

May 22:

Sept 22:

I've got about 20 fruit maturing, here is the largest in the palm of my hand:

The remaining are about half this size. I removed about 20 fruit last month when I noticed them split open. When can I start harvesting in San Diego? In terms of water fertilzer and time, they will be the most expensive mangos I'll ever eat!

Do the updated pictures help with ID yet, or need to wait for the cut up ripe fruit?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 7:04PM
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Hey! That's not a Manila. Looks like a Tommy Atkins. You did a great job,the tree came back strong. As far as ready? They come off in your hand with a light tug.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 7:31PM
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kaisersoze(10a - San Diego)

Oh no, not the dreaded Tommy Atkins!

I hope it doesn't turn out as fibrous and bland tasting as everyone seems to say it is...

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 1:15AM
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Ah,don't go by that. Fresh off the tree,and picked as sweet as it can get makes a huge difference then a store bought TA picked when it was green.
And - fiber is good for you. Its why I eat oranges not just drink OJ.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 12:52PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hard to be sure? It might be difficult to guess, there are just SO many different varieties out there...and if its a seedling even harder to know.

The fruit itself looks similar to my Keitt...but the pretty colors on your new leaves and its growth habit is not that of a Keitt tree, here's a picture of my Keitt from 2012. Looks similar to yours, but again I'm sure there are many fruits that look similar visually...

If there's fiber, there's a pretty good chance its a Tommy Atkins, but I believe there's a lot more red on a TA..

Below on the bottom of the screen is a link from TFN a picture of a Kent, the fruit looks similar to yours as well...

I hope its fiberless, sweet and delicious, that's the important thing!!

I have to say your tree is looking amazing!! Great comeback, you did a great job.

BTW, home grown Tommy Atkins taste a lot better than the ones from the store which are picked when they are green...there was a large tree in my old neighborhood that produced some of the best tasting TA I've ever tasted! Tree ripened TA taste much better...not in my top 5 but way better than the store bought ones any day!

Here is a link that might be useful: Kent mango...

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 2:05PM
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Its still up in the air as to what is is exactly,so don't go chopping it down or even be disappointed. A healthy Mango in California is a good thing to have,still a rare thing. They are not on every corner like Avocados or Citrus.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 7:05PM
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could it be an Edward?


    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 8:14PM
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Well,how did they taste? Inquiring minds need to know.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 4:48PM
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kaisersoze(10a - San Diego)

I dunno what happened, I only found around 8 fruit on the tree today and they were all hard small peach sized mangos. I don't know if someone or an animal snatched the bigger fruit. The one pictured in my hand split open shortly after the photo was taken, what a waste... Hopefully some of the remaining will ripen or get larger soon

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 7:56PM
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Sounds like people. I doubt Raccoons could haul them they away with no trail of something left- like a broken branch.
Sometimes yard maintenance ( a neighbors) people who love a good Mango are out at 5am!
You didn't try the one that split open? That's just a sign of ripeness.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 4:12PM
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