Grafting Univ. of Florida

Fact Sheet HS-58
April 1994
Mango Propagation1
Julian W. Sauls and Carl W. Campbell2
Mangos can be propagated rather easily by several
methods. Seeds are sometimes grown to produce new
cultivars and are commonly used to produce rootstocks
for improved cultivars. Polyembryonic cultivars of
mango generally come true from seed, but
monoembryonic types do not. Seedlings are fairly easy
to grow, but they may require 6 to 10 years or more to
bear and the fruit may not be of desired quality unless
the seedling came from a cultivar which comes true from
Seedlings that do not come true often produce fruit
that is small, poorly colored, with fibrous flesh and a
resinous flavor. Desired cultivars are propagated intact
by budding, grafting, or other vegetative means. Budded
or grafted mangos will usually begin to bear within 3 to
5 years of propagation.
Veneer grafting and chip budding are the most
common and successful methods of propagation of
mangos in Florida, but other methods have been used.
Tip (V or cleft) grafting is becoming more common as
nurserymen begin trying it. These three methods will be
described herein. Propagation by cuttings and by air
layers are successful in some areas of the tropics, but
have not proven practical in Florida.
The necessary equipment for propagation consists of
a very sharp knife, pruning shears and suitable wrapping
material such as polyethylene budding tape, rubber strips
or an adhesive tape.
Nurserymen will utilize whatever seed that can be
obtained in quantity. ‘Turpentine’ is the most often used
of the polyembryonic forms in Florida because the
seedlings are sturdy and the trees usually bear sufficient
quantities of seed. Monoembryonic types generally
produce vigorous seedlings, but weak plants should be
Mango seed retain viability for only a short time —
seed more than a couple of weeks old frequently will not
germinate. Consequently, seed should be removed from
mature fruit and planted within a short time. The fibrous
stone or husk enclosing the seed may be allowed to dry
for a couple of days so that it will be less slippery and
easier to handle. Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to
remove the stone, taking care not to damage the seed.
Typically, seedlings are grown in plastic pots, gallon
cans or polyethylene sleeves or tubes filled with a
suitable potting soil. Seed should be planted with the
convex edge up and slightly exposed. Seed will
germinate in 2 to 3 weeks and the seedlings should be
watered regularly and fertilized periodically with a
soluble, complete fertilizer. The seedlings should be
large enough to bud or graft in 1 to 6 months, depending
upon the method used.
1. This document is Fact Sheet HS-58, a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: April 1994.
2. Julian W. Sauls, Former Extension Horiculturist, Horticultural Sciences Department; Carl W. Campbell, Emeritus Extension Horticulturist, Tropical
Research and Educaiton Center, Homestead, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida,
Gainesville FL 32611.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational
information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national
origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / John T. Woeste, Dean
Mango Propagation Page 2
Propagation wood is obtained from the tips of small
branches of healthy, mature, bearing trees. M a n g o
trees may produce 3 to 5 flushes of growth each year,
depending upon climate and care. The best time to
collect propagation wood is when the tree is just
beginning to flush growth, but most of the terminals are
still dormant. Thus, the buds on such terminals should
be plump and ready to grow.
Propagation wood that is not in the proper stage for
use can be preconditioned 3 to 4 weeks before it is
needed by either of two methods. One is to girdle
selected terminals about 30 cm (12 in.) below the apex.
Girdling causes an accumulation of carbohydrate reserves
in the scion which helps insure that scions will take and
is used especially for wood that must be shipped to
distant places. The other is to cut off all but the apical
3 or 4 leaves on selected terminals for a distance of
about 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 in.) from the apex, leaving
petiole stubs about 6 mm (1/4 in.) long to protect the
buds. Defoliation 2 weeks or so before grafting causes
buds to push. Both methods can be used together to
produce scions with plump buds and a high potential for
Mango propagation wood rapidly loses vitality, so it
should be kept moist and cool and used immediately
after collection. Although it can be stored under
refrigeration for a week or so, success in propagation is
more difficult, so it is highly recommended to use only
freshly-collected wood.
Veneer grafting can be used anytime that stocks are
actively growing and propagation wood is available, but
the ideal time is probably April through August.
Rootstocks should be about 6 months old and 6 to 12
mm (¼ to ½ in.) in diameter. The stock is trimmed of
its lower leaves and cleaned of any soil or other foreign
A long tangential cut 5 to 7 cm (2 to 3 in.) long is
made through the bark and just into the wood in an area
where the stem is straight 7 to 10 cm (3 to 4 in.) above
the soil. A short second cut is made at the base of the
first one, forming a notch. A scion with two or three
buds and of equal or slightly smaller diameter than the
stock is prepared by making a slanting cut on one side
equal in length to that made on the stock. A small cut
is made at the base of the scion on the opposite side so
that the scion will fit into the notch on the stock.
The scion is placed into position on the stock with
care to line up the juncture between bark and wood on
at least one side but preferably on both sides. The entire
graft should be secured with wrapping material in a
spiral beginning at the bottom, taking care to maintain
alignment of the cut edges of the stock and scion.
Tip grafting is basically grafting of small stems,
using only one scion. Scions are usually selected with
two or three lateral buds (no terminal). Young
rootstocks of pencil diameter are cut off square 5 cm (2
in.) above the soil and the shoot is split to a depth about
halfway down the stem. The scion is prepared as a twosided
wedge with smooth, sloping cuts about 2 to 3 cm
(1 in.) in length. It is then inserted into the split in the
stock, taking care that the cambia of the two match
along at least one side, preferably both. The union is
then wrapped securely with budding tape and the entire
graft is covered with a plastic cup or bag until the graft
has taken.
Chip budding differs from grafting in that only a
single lateral bud is used instead of a portion of a stem
with several buds. Very young stocks can be
successfully budded, but budding is usually delayed until
the stocks are 6 mm (¼ in.) in diameter. Mangos can be
chip budded anytime suitable rootstocks and buds are
available, with April through August probably being
A thin slice of wood is removed from the stock 7 to
10 cm (3 to 4 in.) above the soil line by making a
smooth downward cut 2 to 3 cm (1 in.) long and just
into the wood. A second slightly downward cut is made
at the base of the first one, forming a notch. A chip
with a bud is removed from the scion in the same
manner. The chip bud is then inserted into the notch on
the stock and securely wrapped.
The union between stock and scion should be
completed in 2 to 3 weeks. The tip graft will commence
to grow without assistance but the other propagations
will require forcing the buds into growth, assuming the
scions are still healthy and green. Forcing should be
done 3 to 6 weeks after propagation, with the longer
time being necessary in cool or dry weather. The
wrapping can be left on the tip graft for a month or more
in warm weather or 2 to 3 months in cool weather, but
Mango Propagation Page 3
it must be removed from the chip bud and the upper part
of the veneer graft during forcing. It can be removed
easily by cutting with a knife on the side of the stem
opposite the scion.
The best way to force the buds into growth is to
make a horizontal cut into the stock 2 to 5 cm (1 to 2
in.) above and on the same side as the scion. Then
when a scion bud has grown out several centimeters, the
stock can be cut off on a slant as near the scion as
possible with a sharp pair of hand shears.
Only one shoot is allowed to grow — all others
above and below it should be removed as they appear.
The young shoot may need to be tied loosely to a stake
for support as it grows. The framework of the tree is
started when the scion is 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in.) tall.
The tip should be pinched off and 4 to 6 well spaced
lateral branches are allowed to develop if natural
branching does not occur.
Budded or grafted plants can be planted almost
anytime after 6 months, but planting is usually delayed
for 12 to 18 months.
Frequently, it is desirable to change cultivars without
having to destroy the tree and replant a young tree of the
desired cultivar. Older trees can be grafted or budded,
but such propagation is somewhat more difficult as the
tree gets older. There are two options.
A vigorous, healthy tree may be cut off 1-3 ft above
the ground and treated with pruning paint. Several
sprouts will grow out from the trunk and 1 or more can
be grafted or budded as previously described with scions
of the desired variety.
A tree with a good framework can be cut back to the
main scaffold branches. Then veneer grafts or chip buds
can be inserted on the stubs. However, callus tissue
commonly develops so rapidly as to overgrow a chip bud
before it forces, so the more practical technique is to use
veneer grafts with large scions. This will require two or
three propagations per branch and more intensive
aftercare, particularly regarding staking to prevent the
young scions from being broken off by winds.
Frequently, one or two branches are left intact for a year
or more to sustain the tree and shade the propagations
until they have grown out sufficiently.
Most budded or grafted mango trees consist of only
one scion cultivar on the rootstock, such that the entire
tree will be a single cultivar producing identical fruit.
Homeowners, however, may prefer several cultivars of
mango, but have space for only one or two trees, as a
mature mango tree may be 12 m (40 ft.) tall and wide.
Several cultivars can be propagated on a single
rootstock except that the propagations are inserted on
side branches of a stock that is 2 to 3 years old, similar
to topworking onto main scaffold branches. Two scions
of the same cultivar may be inserted on each branch to
insure successful propagation, with one being eliminated
The number of cultivars to be propagated on one
tree should probably be limited to two to four, as the
identity of each must be maintained. Care should be
taken to choose cultivars that are similar in vigor to
prevent one or more from crowding out or being
crowded out by the others. Also, cultivars should be
chosen that mature fruit at different times to extend the
harvest of mangos over a longer period of the season.