Growing mango in hot Arizona

by Mike D, Mesa, AZ

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Despite to what you may think, mango can be successfully grown in desert Arizona climate. It has good heat and drought tolerance.

It's possible providing the following:

1) Winter protection of a young plant when temperature goes around or below freezing. Try to plant trees in locations where they're protected from cold wind. Minimal temperatures vary widely. Areas which are closer to downtown are few degrees warmer, while outskirts can be very cold.

2) Some people are lucky enough to live in areas with good soil. However, most of us will have a so-called hardpan (extremely compacted desert) or caliche (layers of soil cemented together by calcium carbonate). Check with your local county extension office to determine how to deal with such conditions. Gypsum is usually used to loosen compacted soil.

3) When planting, dig a large hole making sure it has good drainage. Plant tree as usual, add mulch around it. It helps to conserve moisture.

4) Best time to plant is late Fall or Early spring, so mango can get established before Summer heat.

5) Plant where tree gets few hours of sun.

5) Water a lot until established. Once established, water when soil is dry.

6) Small plant may need protection from summer heat. Use shade cloth (see photo)

7) Mango requires very little nitrogen fertilizer. In hot climate, overdosing nitrogen may result in quick plant decline. Use balanced low nitrogen slow release fertilizer or avoid nitrogen completely. If you use mulch, then decomposing mulch provides enough nitrogen. Foliar spray of micronutrient solution is recommended during active growing period.

8) Use plant stimulants to improve cold hardiness. New product line called SUNSHINE plant boosters created by TT Laboratories offers excellent results improving cold hardiness.

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