Keeping a mango tree small makes a lot of sense. First, we’ll cover the reasons for maintaining small mango trees, then we’ll see how to keep a mango tree small through pruning.
Have you ever seen a mango like this?
Giant mango trees are very common in tropical climates. If left to themselves, mangoes reach for the heavens sky, towering above buildings and people and bombing the ground with fruit that explode on impact.
Some time ago I wrote about picking mangoes in South Florida. My father-in-law has to harvest mangoes with a long pole as someone else attempts to catch them.
The trees are beautiful and provide a lot of shade, but a lot of mangoes go to waste.
You don’t have to let your mangoes grow to look like this:
Instead, you can keep mango trees small with judicious pruning, even maintaining them at a size that would work in a tiny backyard.
Keeping Mango Trees Small
In this video from Ghana, you’ll see the difference between huge mango trees grown traditionally and trees that are pruned to remain small and manageable:
Here’s one of the farmers in his traditional mango orchard:
And here is a tree pruned for easy access:
Which tree would fit better in your backyard?
As shared in the video, the benefits of small mango trees are many.
An open canopy is less likely to get fungal diseases. Air and light penetrate the interior. Smaller trees also allow for better application of fungicides, if needed.
I had to spray a huge grapefruit tree with neem a couple of weeks ago and I wasted a lot of spray trying to hit the top. The breeze carries away the mist, plus you have little control when you’re shooting that high into the air.
Much of the energy of a properly pruned mango tree goes into fruit, with flower heads maturing at the same time.
This is easier for farmers heading to market, as the fruit can be harvested in a reasonable season.
For backyard gardeners it isn’t as important; however, it is a good thing to get your trees working to make blooms, not branches and leaves.
If you keep a mango tree small, you can increase the size of the fruits by thinning as needed and getting much better light into the tree, as well as being able to care for it much better.
You can also fit more trees trees into the same space. Check out this graphic from the video:
On the left are four mango trees kept small through pruning. Though the large tree on the right may produce twice the fruit as one of those small trees, when you have four small trees, the yield is twice as high for the space used than a single large tree.
In a backyard, you could have four varieties of mango growing instead of just one.
According to research, small trees will also yield higher over time and stay productive for more decades than giant, unpruned trees.
It goes without saying that it’s much easier to pick fruit you can reach, rather than climbing up into a tree or picking with a pole like my father-in-law has to do:
It’s not his fault he ended up with gigantic mango trees. They were already large when he moved into the house. However, if you have the chance to start from scratch, why not keep your trees small so you can pick them without the rick of getting bonked on the head or going out on a limb?
Higher Quality Fruit
If you have hand-picked fruit without fungal or bacterial blemishes, you can sell them for higher prices. Small mango trees that are well-pruned will give you more high-quality mangoes than giant trees that are dark inside. They produce a range of sizes and a lot more spotted fruit, never mind the fact that fruit that fall from high above get bruised and damaged.
How to Keep Mango Trees Small
With fruit trees, remember – YOU are in charge! You don’t have to have a 60-foot tree in your yard, and you probably don’t WANT a 60-foot tree in your yard.
From the same makers of the film on small mango trees comes a second excellent video showing just how they keep mango trees under control, year after year:
I have a Julie mango tree on my new property that needs the restorative treatment, as it’s now too tall to be managed well.
With the new mangoes I’ll be planting next month, we’ll stay on top of pruning right from the beginning.
If you think you don’t have room for a mango tree in your yard, think again. You can keep them at 8′ or less in height, without buying a “dwarf” variety. Stay on top of pruning and you’ll be able to grow more fruit and more varieties than you ever thought possible.