If you’ve been reading Houseplant Central for a while, you’ll know I just love growing houseplants from food scraps. I get to eat, I get a plant and I get to save money. How much better does it get?!
In this article we’ll discuss how to grow an indoor tree from one of my favorite fruits: mango. As with propagating most plants it’s not difficult at all. A great project to try with your kids or if you just want a new plant to add to your collection.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about growing a mango tree from seed!
Psst! Can’t get enough of these DIY food propagation projects? Why not learn how to:
Growing mango from seed step 1: Crack your pit
The first part of our mango growing journey is pretty straightforward. Buy a mango! There are many different mango varieties out there, all of them perfect for propagating at home. Make a yummy fruit salad and save the large pit you find in the center of your mango for our project.
Now, you’ll find that the pit you’ve got now isn’t ideal for growing into a tree as is. It’s covered in yucky bits of mango flesh that will rot if you plant it like this. Luckily this is just a husk: what we’re actually after is the smaller ‘mango bean’ inside. To find the bean, you’ll have to cut open the husk. Very carefully(!) insert the tip of a knife in the seam at the top of the husk where it is weakest and pry it open. Sounds difficult, but it was actually much easier than I thought to loosen it and reveal the bean.
Once you’ve opened the pit have a good look at the mango seed to check whether it’s viable. Store-bought mangoes have often traveled large distances which can sometimes result in a rotting or shriveled seed. If this is the case you’ll unfortunately have to buy a new fruit as this seed is unlikely to be able to produce a new tree.
Growing mango from seed step 2: Soil or water?
If your mango seed looks viable it’s time to start the propagation process. There are actually three ways to grow a mango tree from seed and which one you choose depends completely on your own preferences.
- Growing mango tree in water. This is my personal favorite method because I don’t have to remember to water my mango seedling and I can see the growth process up close. To grow a mango seed in water, all you have to do is find a suitable container to place the seed in, which can be a little challenging due to its shape. Fill up the container and make sure it never dries up.
- Growing mango tree in soil. To grow your mango tree in soil, prepare a pot with some rich potting soil mixed with perlite for extra drainage. I like to only partially cover the seed in soil so I can keep a close eye on what it’s doing, but you can also sow it a little deeper and let yourself be surprised.
- The paper towel method. This is a bit of a combination of the other two mango growing methods. It involves placing the seed in a bowl of water in a warm place for around 24 hours. After this soaking time you wrap the seed in moist paper towels and place this package in a ziploc bag or container. Leave a little opening for fresh air to pass through and place the seed in a warm, light place to germinate. Don’t forget to re-moisten the paper towels regularly.
Growing mango from seed step 3: The long wait
Once you’ve chosen your planting method and placed the mango seed in its container, it’s time for an exercise in patience. If conditions are just right with high temperatures, plenty of light and good humidity you might see activity in just a week or so. In other circumstances it can take up to a month.
While waiting for your mango seed to germinate, make sure to keep the water level in your container high enough (if growing in water), the soil lightly moist (if growing in a pot) or the paper towels damp (if using the paper towel method). Keep the container in a warm and light location like a windowsill. If you’re growing your seed in water or soil you can even place it outside in a sheltered spot if it happens to be summer.
Growing mango from seed step 4: Say hi to your new mango seedling!
If all goes well and there are no signs of rot or fungus on your mango seed you’ll notice it starting to sprout a little stem with the beginnings of leaves after a one to four weeks. Congratulations, a little mango tree has born!
Growing your mango tree in soil? There’s nothing else you need to do at this point except for continuing to keep the soil lightly moist and providing plenty of light. If your mango seed is in water or still wrapped in its paper towels you can move on to the final step of repotting at this point.
Growing mango from seed step 5: Repot
To repot your mango seed to a more permanent container, find a pot with a drainage hole at the bottom. Fill it with moisture retaining potting soil, but also add some perlite so excess water can drain easily to prevent rot. Lay the seed on the soil root side down and cover it with a little bit of soil, making sure not to damage the fragile baby stem.
After this, your mango seedling will take care of the rest. Don’t worry if the stem and leaves seem a little droopy after moving: plants don’t particularly like the transfer from water to soil. It’ll bounce back soon enough after spending some time adapting or forming its root system underground. Be sure to keep the soil lightly moist (but never wet!).
Things to keep in mind
- Be patient. Growing plants from seed is almost never a fast process and things are no different if you’re trying to propagate mango. This especially applies if you’re doing this project during wintertime. With the lack of light and lower temperatures it can take over a month before you see any movement. Don’t give up: as long as the mango pit is not rotting there is hope!
- Fruiting. It can take a very long time for your mango tree to produce fruit (over 6 years). If you grow your mango inside, don’t hold out too much hope. It needs more space and light to fruit than most of us can provide in the home. Luckily the tree itself is also quite decorative and a lovely addition to your houseplant collection.
- Outdoors. If your climate allows it you can plant your mango tree outdoors and grow it there. Mangoes love the tropics and are not frost resistant. If it does get cold during wintertime you can consider growing your tree in a large pot and taking it inside once Fall rolls around and things start to cool.
- Shortcut. Don’t feel like waiting for your little mango seed to sprout, grow a tree and produce fruit? It does take a lot of patience. Luckily there are sellers out there who sell small grafted mango trees that are already of a good size and produce fruit much more quickly than a homegrown mango would. You can buy a mango tree here, for example!