Mango trees are the kings of summer – their delicious fruits are sweet and perfect no matter the preparation. They’re relatively simple to grow, and there’s satisfaction in picking your own mangoes. There are plenty of Australian mango varieties to choose from, but whichever you prefer – to maintain it, you’ll need to prune it.
You should prune a mango tree regularly to keep it at a manageable size and encourage fruit production. A young mango tree will grow more within its first 2-3 years, so you should trim it well to keep a mango tree small. Once a tree is over 1.0m tall, cut back its main shoot to 0.6-0.7m with pruning shears. Meanwhile, after its horizontal branches reach over 1.0m, cut them back to a similar length. Dead branches or diseased branches should be pruned off as well.
(If you need help maintaining your young tree – and the rest of your garden – enlist a gardening service to give you a hand!)
Do you own a mango tree? Do you need help trimming it? Here’s your guide to pruning mango trees – and a few care tips, too.
Growing a Mango Tree
The mango (Mangifera indica) is a tropical fruit tree native to Asia. It’s a summertime staple around the world, with over 500 cultivars. Popular Australian mango varieties include Kensington Pride or Bowen mango, Calypso® mango, and Honey Gold mango.
The mango plant is mainly grown from saplings, but you can develop some varieties from seed.
Mango trees grow best in subtropical or tropical climates. This fruit tree likes hot, humid summers and cool, dry winters with no frost.
Plant your mango tree in autumn to establish itself ahead of the growing season. Pre-prepare your garden, so you have enough space – these trees get big!
A mango tree likes sunny conditions, with shelter from strong winds. It can grow in most soils so long as there’s good drainage and room for the roots. Water young trees regularly, especially during dry periods.
Mulch a mango tree once a year, ideally in spring. It won’t necessarily need fertiliser, but you can use a potassium-rich product during the growing season for more mango production.
Do Mango Trees Need Pruning?
The short answer: Yes.
Trimming horizontal and vertical branches helps in shaping a young mango tree. It also helps manage its size – small mango trees are preferable in gardens. Otherwise, if left unattended, your tree could easily exceed 10m in height. (Whew!)
An unpruned mango tree could also become more susceptible to fungal diseases.
Untrimmed mango trees show less growth and have lower-quality fruit production. Pruned mango trees, meanwhile, have a better and more stable yield, with higher quality fruit. The mangoes are easier to harvest as well.
Lastly, a pruned and open canopy lets more sunlight and air through, which helps boost tree growth, especially for seedling trees.
How to Prune a Mango Tree
When to prune mango trees
The most important pruning process happens with a young tree. First pruning occurs in spring or summer, when the tree exceeds 1.0m in height. This helps manage its shape and encourage branching.
The second pruning takes place immediately after the first harvest – around the second or third year after the tree is planted. Then the third pruning should take place 2-4 weeks before flowering season, about late autumn to early winter.
Following this, as your tree matures, you will only need maintenance pruning. Trim off diseased or dead branches, and some of the lower limbs to leave enough open space under the large tree.
Avoid pruning your mango tree when you see flowers starting to bloom, as this could discourage flowering and fruiting.
Pruning your fruit trees
As discussed, there are three crucial times to prune a mango tree. Each time requires specific pruning instructions, and makes maintenance easier in the long run.
Pruning a young mango tree
Start by cutting the main shoot after it reaches 1.0m in height. This will promote growth and substantial side branches. When it reaches this initial height, trim it back to 0.6-0.7m using pruning shears. Always make sure to cut under the ‘ring of buds’ – a concentrated spiral of leaves on the trunk.
Remove a few side branches underneath that first cut. Leave around 3-4 stems – removing all of them will create unstable growth.
Let the remaining branches and the trunk grow to over 1.0m again – about 1 1/2 to 2 years after trimming. Once they do, cut them back again to 1.0m. After this, the next time you’ll prune is after your tree bears fruit.
Pruning a mango tree after harvest
Immediately after harvest, prune your tree using lopping shears, especially for large branches up to 5cm in diameter. This helps prepare your tree for the next season. It’s better to prune in the summer since the wounds heal faster.
Trim lower branches to about 1.2m from ground level. This is called ‘skirting’ and helps manage the size of your tree to a modest height.
Remove any robust vertical branches to keep a more compact shape and encourage horizontal growth. Horizontal branches tend to bear better fruit.
Trim side branches down to 0.5m in length, at least for the second year after planting. This will help your tree put more energy into fruit production.
Pruning a mango tree pre-flowering
This is an especially time-sensitive process and should be completed 2-4 weeks before flowering time. Do this in early spring; otherwise, you risk crop loss. Use pruning saws for branches and trunks up to 15cm in diameter.
Remove one of the main branches or main trunks each year. This is known as a ‘thinning cut’ and encourages more fruiting. Choose a limb with the most unruly growth and trim it down to the trunk.
Cut any side branches, so they’re at least 0.5m away from any neighbouring plants. Be sure to make clean cuts, so the tree continues thriving.
Remove any clutter such as dead twigs, and middle-topmost branches that take up space. This will leave your tree more open to sunlight, which helps it grow.
Mango Tree Care
It’s essential to know how to prune a mango tree – it ensures the fruits grow healthy, and that new shoots thrive. An old mango tree can last a long time with proper maintenance. Then you can harvest your ripe mangoes just in time for summer, the perfect time for a smoothie, or an icypole… We could (man)go on forever!