Sprouting A Mango Seed
By– South OC CRFG Fruit Specialist Coordinator
There are as many ways to sprout a mango seed as there are growers. After you have enjoyed eating the mango, scrape off as much of the flesh off the seed as possible. Let it dry overnight for easier handling. Then, with a sharp knife, scrape vigorously along the concave edge of the husk. This will enable you to pry the husk open and remove the embryo. Be careful not to damage the seed.
If it is a store-bought mango, you may wish to first test it for viability. (Mangos are sometimes held in storage too long at a grocery). If the embryo is gray that is a sign of too much cold storage; if there are black markings, this indicates a fungus and I throw these seeds away. You can test for viability or actually sprout the seed by wrapping it in dampened paper towels; place it in a plastic bag and put it on that warm spot on top of your refrigerator. If a radicle (root) emerges, the seed is viable and it may be planted in a gallon can. Use a good potting mix with a handful of soil. If you have any mycorrhizae (beneficial fungus) on hand, a pinch of it on the root will get it off to a good start. The seed should be planted with the hump halfway above the soil. Some growers put seeds in a bowl of non-chlorinated water for three days (changing it daily) and then remove the outer brown skin before planting it.
If you have a lot of fresh seeds from your own tree, then arrange them in a container at least 4″ deep ( a plastic shoe box with holes punched in the bottom works well). Use either coarse river sand or a potting mix. Arrange them in the container about 1 ½ inches apart with the hump visable above the soil. Place on a pad with bottom heat or in a propagation box with a light bulb for heat. The temperature in the box can get up to 100 degrees but the mangos love it. When a stem with two leaves emerges, VERY carefully lift out the rooted seed and plant in a pot. Keep in a warm place.
Usually only one stem will emerge from your sprouted seed. However, there are some varieties of mangos, called polyembryonic, that develop several stems. These may be broken apart and planted separately, or all but one snipped off at soil level. The strongest one is the best selection. Chances are most of them will develop into an exact clone of the parent plant. These have developed from nucellar tissue. One may be a hybrid developed from pollen of another tree.
Mango seeds are viable for only a short time. If you are on an extended trip, a dampened paper towel will help to maintain their viability longer. But first, check with your agricultural agent to see if mango seeds can be imported.
Seedling mango trees usually grow BIG, but by pruning after the fruit is gone, size can be controlled. It usually takes about 5 years for a seedling to fruit. Since there has been so much hybridization work with mangos to develop a perfect fruit., chances are your seedling, even from a monoembryonic, hybridized seed, will be a winner. Enjoy!