Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Is It Time To Lower My Tropical Fruit Tree?

The first thing a Real Estate Agent will do on seeing a Mango tree on the property is suggest it gets removed.  That's overkill, they can be managed truly well, but that does raise a basic gardening question. 

I’m not a farmer so when do I trim my fruit trees?

I started looking into this and it turns out that it varies based on what kind of tree, where it is planted, and what you intend to do with it all.

For example, the specific tree I am talking about is a Mango, but this is a general discussion.  Mango trees get truly massive.  I’m looking out the window at a Hagen Mango tree that was allowed to grow freely.  They trimmed the ground limbs up to about 10 feet.  The top of the tree is about 40 feet.  Think a four story building.

I am in the tropics (adjacent).  Broward County Florida.  26 Degrees North, 80 Degrees West is just off the coast of Hollywood Florida.  

Things are different here.  This extends to the native trees, and I am including anything Tropical and Exotic here.  You can’t grow a Mango outside in Atlanta.  I’ve been led to believe that you can’t grow it where you get a hard freeze either.  Think the same climate as Oranges.

I’m trimming the tree at the Pre-Hurricane Season, which works well with Fruiting Season, but it also works well with the Sea Grape tree that is in the backyard by the shed behind the Mango in the first picture.

These tropical natives are designed to lose almost all of their leaves in a direct hit from a storm.   Each year, I have a landscaping team climb the Sea Grape and trim it progressively lower.  Each year the Sea Grape pouts and then comes back with a vengeance.  That tree was once 40 feet tall too, but now, it’s trunk is down to about 15 and will be a total of 40 feet again next spring.

In the case of my own Mango, it’s trimmed back every year after I pick the fruit.  It reached 20 feet tall this year, so I am sure it’s tapped into the aquifer and is doing well.  I trimmed it, just like last year, back to Eye Level – six feet.  It looks like it had its head cut off but I did leave plenty of leaves for it to get restarted, and it’s already putting out a ring of new growth of limbs at each major cut.  

Both trees will survive.  This is what they’re designed to do.  They have to.  If a tree loses all of it’s leaves in a storm, it has to put out new growth immediately.

Next spring, I’ll have more flowers and more fruit to harvest and throw in the freezer to make more jelly which is a task for a slow afternoon – canning fruit jelly.

If you are in a tropical area, plants can be trimmed pretty much all year around.   If you don’t want fruit, get them trimmed when they begin to flower.  If you do want fruit, wait until after harvest – June or July.

At least that’s how I manage my own Mango.  The hedges on the other hand grow like mad.  They all need constant trimming every season, rain or shine.

Now, if you’re in a colder climate where you get winter… the rule of thumb is that you should get professional advice, I’m just a home owner.  If it is an Early Bloomer, wait until after the flowers/fruits are done, Late Bloomers are best trimmed early spring or even late winter.  Let the tree build strength for when it is needed.

If you will excuse me, I have to start some water boiling for canning.  I have jelly to make!

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