How to get a mango tree to flower

Mango tree in bloom. Can't say I've ever seen it flower so prolifically!

I didn’t start out trying to do anything for our mango trees, but something happened, and I thought it would be of interest some of you…

We have two mango trees in our back garden – one that’s almost 30 years old, and the other, over 6 years old. The younger one was grown from a seed from the older tree that sprouted on its own, and my dad decided to let it grow to see if it could produce fruits as nice as the older tree’s. Several years passed and the younger tree grew to about 2 stories high. A year ago, considering that the tree had shown no sign of flowers after so long, my dad wanted to cut it down. We protested because at the time there were some birds nesting there, so the tree stayed.

Fast forward to the present, and here I am scouting for a location for a bigger trellis. I didn’t mention that between the two mango trees is an old, abandoned metal frame that used to be for drying clothes. A lower branch of the older mango tree had woven over and through it, using it as a convenient armrest. I figured that the frame would be better served as a trellis than a support for a dying mango branch, and that a bit of pruning would be in order.

Yes, the tree is very old and a few of the branches are getting rotten. Those branches house insects, and a Sunda woodpecker comes almost every day to tap away at the wood and get some grub. Since there are other branches higher up that the bird can feed at, I cut away that branch to free the frame and give myself a sturdy trellis with much less effort.

A Sunda woodpecker industriously searching for insects in our old mango tree.

Since the younger mango tree was still unproductive, I also decided to give my dad his wish and started cutting the lower branches away. I figured it would take a few weekends to work my way to the top of the tree, and disposal would be easier, doing it bit by bit.

Interestingly enough, cutting mango branches isn’t that difficult – the wood is fairly soft, and thinner branches can be cut with heavy duty cutters while a good wood saw can handle the thicker branches easily – if you have the stamina for it…

So after handling the older tree,  I’ve been pruning the younger one gradually, and one day, suddenly realized that the older tree was flowering like crazy! Think cherry blossoms in spring kind of crazy. It has never, in my memory, flowered so profusely. I’ve heard how people slash the trunks of unproductive fruit trees to shock them to induce flowering, and I believe our tree started flowering so much because that one, fairly major branch had been cut away and it was frightened into flowering like there was no tomorrow.

And it’s not just the older tree that was affected – the younger tree also produced a few clusters of flowers! I had cut away about a third of its branches before this happened, and now we’ll have to wait and see if the fruit are as good as the original tree’s before we decide its fate.

This was a very unexpected development. But, stumbling onto this piece of information is, as always, interesting to me. So, folks, if you have a fruit tree that’s unproductive, and fertilizers haven’t been working, you can try some massive pruning as another way to startle your tree into flowering…

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How to get a mango tree to flower — 3 Comments

    • Ditto for me! The parent plant was a special one from a family friend, and the fruits, sweet and flavourful. Fingers are crossed, but of course, reality check is on, too, because you can’t guarantee the same quality unless you marcot the original.