By Richard J. Campbell, Ph.d, Senior Curator and Noris Ledesma
Curator of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
There are two distinct seed types among mango cultivars. Mangoes
originating on the northern plains of India, in Florida, Israel and
South Africa generally have seeds with a single embryo and are called
monoembryonic. The single embryo is the result of cross-pollination, a
sexual process, and combines the traits of the male and female parents.
Seedlings of monoembryonic mangoes will differ from the parent tree.
Mangoes originating in Southeast Asia generally have seeds with
multiple embryos, and are called polyembryonic. One embryo is of sexual
origin, while the other embryos come from the maternal tissue and are
identical to the mother tree. Polyembryonic cultivars have
traditionally been grown from seed in many countries.
of the seed type, a seedling tree will take longer to produce fruit and
usually will be more difficult to manage, compared to a grafted tree.
Therefore, it is generally not recommended to grow mango trees from
seed, unless one wants to produce hybrids for purposes of cultivar
improvement. For South Florida we recommend as a rootstock 'Turpentine'.
Grafting is the most reliable and economical means of propagating the
mango. It consists of transferring a piece of a mature, bearing tree
(scion) to a separate seedling tree (rootstock), forming a permanent
union. The scion forms the canopy of the tree, while the rootstock
forms the lower trunk and roots.
vigorous and uniform seedlings from polyembryonic seed should be used
as rootstocks. Monoembryonic seeds are not recommended for use because
their sexual embryos produce non-uniform seedlings. The seed should be
removed from the leathery husk and planted at a depth of 12.5 mm
(½ in) in nursery trays for later transplanting, or directly in
a 3.81 (1 gal) growing container. A standard nursery soil mix can be
used provided that it has good drainage. The rootstock should be
fertilized, watered and grown to the diameter of a pencil prior to
Scions can be collected when the trees are in active
growth. Scions are obtained by removing the terminal 5 to 7.6 cm (2 to
3 in) of a twig whose terminal bud is beginning to enlarge. Tender
terminal shoots can be used for specialized grafting and budding
techniques. Scions are removed from the tree and for veneer grafts all
of the leaves are removed. For cleft grafts and other specialized
techniques, a few of the leaves may be left on the scion. The scions
can be placed in a plastic bag and stored at a temperature of 10°C
(50°F) for up to 10 to 14 days. Scions can be stored in a home
refrigerator, but they must not be allowed to freeze.
Grafting should be done in the warmest months of the year with night
temperatures above 18°C (64°F). Many grafting methods are
successful with mango, including cleft grafting, chip budding and whip
grafting; however, one of the most versatile and reliable is the veneer
height on the rootstock will not influence success or failure. The
terminal bud of the rootstock is removed and on both the scion and the
rootstock a veneer cut is made. The veneer cut is shallow and exposes
the cambium, the active growth region of both the scion and the
rootstock. A short flap of bark is left on the bottom of the veneer cut
on the rootstock to secure the scion in place.
two cut surfaces are brought together and then wrapped with plastic
grafting tape. Generally the terminal bud is left unwrapped to allow
for growth of the bud. Under extremely dry conditions, the terminal bud
may be completely covered to reduce water loss, but the plastic must be
removed later. The newly grafted tree should be placed in the shade and
not exposed to direct sunlight. The graft should begin to grow in 10 to
21 days. The rootstock is cut immediately above the graft following the
second vegetative flush of the scion. Following grafting, any shoots
from the rootstock must be removed, as these shoots may overcome the
information, be sure to pick up the book Tropical Mangos “How to
grow the world’s most delicious fruit” by Richard J.
Campbell, Ph.D and Noris Ledesma.
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