This easy method shows how to grow a mango tree from seed using a mango from the grocery store. Eat the mango, save the seed, and follow these simple steps to grow it into a plant.
You can also grow an avocado from seed using the same method.
Growing a Grocery Store Mango Seed
Did you know the husk inside mango fruit contains a seed? And it’s a nice big seed! And that’s what we sow to grow a new mango plant.
If you live in a cold climate, without outdoor tropical growing conditions, you can still grow mangos indoors as houseplants, beginning with a mango fruit.
I’ll show you a simple way to prepare the seed, make it sprout, and grow it as a houseplant. These are tropical plants, so you’ll want a sunny, warm place in your home to provide the best growing conditions.
So, what makes this method easy?
By starting the mango seed in damp paper towel (see below), we can first determine if the seed is viable (will grow).
You could also plant it directly in damp potting mix, but that means waiting to see if there is growth (for several weeks).
The easy method reveals which seeds are good ones so we don’t waste time on the duds.
Will it grow fruit?
Probably not, unless you manage to provide exceptional, tropical-like growing conditions for many years that eventually trigger flowering and fruiting. Grafted mango trees can produce fruit.
- Can you grow a mango tree inside?
- How long does it take to grow a mango seed?
- How do you germinate a mango seed quickly?
- How big will an indoor mango tree grow?
- Will my indoor mango tree grow fruit?
AHow to Grow a Mango from Seed
Let’s walk through how to grow a mango plant from a grocery store mango, and I’ll show you how long each step takes.
1Buy a Ripe Mango
Every mango has a seed inside. It’s protected by that thick, husk-like thing you set aside when preparing the fruit for eating.
You have to start with a ripe mango because otherwise the seed within the husk may not be mature enough to grow into a plant.
2Remove the Husk/Seed from the Mango
Use the edible fruit (yum!) and set aside the husk. They tend to have stringy pieces of fruit attached to them and we’ll take care of that in the next step.
If you like propagating stuff like this, get my Kitchen Propagation Handbook here for more projects.
3Clean and Dry the Husk
Next you want to gently scrub off the pulp/stringy bits of mango fruit from the husk. The purpose of this step is simply to help the husk dry faster and make it easier to cut open.
You can hold the husk under tap water and use a soft scrub brush to push the pulp off.
Or, very carefully scrape it off with a small knife, always aiming away from yourself!
When the husk is fairly pulp-free, dry it off with a towel and set it somewhere to further dry for a day or two (not much more).
4Remove Seed from Husk
After 2 days, the mango seed husk is dry enough to cut open.
This is the part that amazed me the first time I did it. I have eaten a lot of mangos over the years, and I had no idea there was a great big seed in there!
- You want to cut the edges of the husk so you can pry it open without damaging the seed inside.
- I use good scissors that can cut thick things like leather (not your fabric or paper scissors or you’ll wreck them) and trim away the edges.
- You could also put the husk in a vice and use a fine wood saw to trim off the edges.
- Then, peel back the husk and see what’s inside.
5Clean Off the Seed
This is a mango seed found within the husk of the fruit.
Pretty cool! It’s like some sort of giant bean seed. And no two mango seeds look the same.
- Gently remove the seed from the husk and take off any loose paper-like layers around it but don’t force or peel anything.
Some mangos produce polyembryonic seeds, but the ones shown here are singles (monoembryonic). Plants from polyembryonic seeds produce fruit true to the parent (like grafted plants do). Our grocery stores have very little variety so I’ve only ever seen two types of mango seeds here and they are always singles.
If the seed appears shriveled or rotten, start again with another mango.
The mango seed is wrapped in moist towel and placed in a plastic bag.
I use this method for sprouting all sorts of the things including avocado seeds and ginger. I like this method because it shows me I have a viable seed before I go to the trouble of planting it in soil.
There is no need to buy plastic bags for this step. Just use any plastic bags or wrap you have.
- Dampen a cloth (can be a washcloth) or paper towel (see eco-friendly reusable ones here) in warm water so it’s moist but not dripping.
- Wrap your mango seed with the damp cloth and place it in the plastic bag.
- If you are sprouting several seeds, put one on the damp towel, fold over, add another, fold over and so on. I keep them apart with a layer of towel to prevent any roots from growing together or becoming entangled.
- Place the bag in a dark kitchen cupboard. You can also put it in a warm spot, which is always good to speed up germination, but be sure the towel does not dry out.
- Set a timer on your phone to check on it every 3 days. Take photos each time to keep track of changes.
7Check for Sprouting
After 3 weeks, the seed is sprouting.
- Every few days, open up the paper towel and check for signs of sprouting.
- Dampen the paper towel again if needed.
The mango seed pictured above (after 3-weeks) is growing a red sprout!
I wait until any new growth is 2 to 3-inches long before planting in potting mix.
8Keep Checking for Growth
After 5 weeks, there is enough new growth to plant the seed in potting mix.
At this point you can see how the red sprout is also growing roots, and there is another sprout on top. This took 5 weeks to grow.
That new sprout on top (right) is pale in color because it is growing without light. It will turn green when exposed to sunlight.
Now it’s time to plant the seed in potting mix.
9Plant the Sprouted Mango Seed
At week five (or when there is a few inches of new growth), we plant the seed in potting mix.
Some of the new growth will become roots and the other parts are shoots, but it’s very hard to tell what’s-what at this stage.
Because of this, it’s fine to plant the seed flat in the pot (the way it is in the photo, above). The plant will sort itself out just fine.
Your pot should be a few inches wider than the seed and have room for several inches of root growth. The pot I used is 8-inches deep total, but 6-inches would be fine too.
Also, be sure the pot has drainage holes and a drip saucer to avoid water-logging the plant.
- Fill the pot with potting mix (suitable for houseplants) leaving two inches below lip of pot.
- Water the potting mix thoroughly, let it settle, top it up to same level (2-inches below lip) and set sprouted seed on top.
- Cover seed in an inch of potting mix, water it and top it up.
- You want to end up with about an inch of space between top of potting mix and lip of the pot for easy watering without overflowing.
10Grow Your Plant
At six weeks, a shoot has emerged from the potting mix and leaves are forming.
Mangos are tropical plants and enjoy warmth and humidity.
- Place your plant in a sunny location but not in direct, hot sun where it could dry out.
- Keep soil moist but not damp.
The mango plant in the photo (above, 6-weeks old) decided to send its shoot up at the side of the pot. That’s fine! It’s approximately 4-inches tall and nice and healthy.
11Don’t Worry About Limp Leaves
During the early growth stage, the leaves may be limp. It’s normal.
Limp leaves! I’ve had this several times and I’ve seen others mention it so I’m confident it’s normal.
- As the mango grows its first leaves, they may look limp, as if the plant is over— or under—watered.
- Unless you have been a bit off with your watering and/or have stressed the plant, this limp stage is normal.
- Keep providing proper care and it will perk up. And don’t be tempted to change your water routine if you know it’s fine.
12Grow as Houseplant
Just a week later, my mango plant perked up:
After 9 weeks, the leaves have perked up and the plant is approximately 9-inches tall.
At this point the mango plant is approximately 9-weeks old (from the day we put it in paper towel) and it’s nine inches tall.
The five main leaves formed early (week 3) and no additional leaves have appeared since then.
It’s fairly cool in our home (just below 20°C / 68°F), so growth will be slower than you’d get in a warmer space with better humidity.
Basic Indoor Mango Plant Care Tips
Ideally, you will mimic tropical conditions in your home, or as close to it as you can manage.
- Warmth | Mango trees grow best in ambient temperatures ranging between 21º to 24ºC (70º to 75ºF).
- Extremes | Mango trees die at temperature below .5ºC (33ºF) but can tolerate up to 48ºC (118ºF).
- Humidity | 50-60% until/if flowers form (then lower it).
- Light | Needs heat more than intense light; do not allow the plant to dry out.
- Summer | Place outdoors in dappled sun for maximum warmth.
- Fall to Spring | Keep indoors.
- Fertilizer | I cannot find any research on specific fertilizer needs for indoor mangos. This is what is recommended for outdoor ones: Fertilizer may be a 1:1:1 or 1:2:2 N-P-K ratio formulation, such as 16-16-16 or 10-20-20 N-P-K.
- Warnings | Mango trees are in the same family as poison ivy. The skin, bark, and leaves can cause strong reactions. [Read more here at University of Illinois]
Frequently Asked Questions
1Can you grow a mango tree inside?
Yes, indeed. You can start a mango tree from the seed inside the fruit or buy a grafted tree, which is much more likely to grow fruit, although it does take several years and the right growing conditions.
2How long does it take to grow a mango seed?
With the method listed above, it took 9 weeks from the day I started the germination process to having a 9-inch tall plant.
3How do you germinate a mango seed quickly?
Most seeds germinate fastest within certain temperature ranges but it varies for each plant. This is usually a bit warmer than the plant’s comfort zone.
Because mango plants grow best in when the ambient temperature is between 21º to 24ºC (70º to 75ºF), it’s a fair assumption that the seed would sprout fastest at temperatures just above that.
4How big will an indoor mango tree grow?
Outdoor mango trees growing in tropical climates can reach 35 meters tall if not pruned.
Growing indoors, both because conditions are not optimal and the plant is restricted to a container, will limit growth.
I realize that didn’t answer the question with a specific measurement, but that’s because I’m not sure. I have seen a few indoor ones that appear to be about 6-feet tall. The more tropical the conditions, the bigger they will get.
5Will my indoor mango tree grow fruit?
It’s highly unlikely. If you want fruit, start with a grafted mango tree (from a nursery that specializes in them). These are intended for growing fruit, although the quantity will be small. Provide optimum growing conditions including intense heat without drying out the soil. Grafted mango trees are reported to take 3-5 years to flower and fruit.
Some say mango seedlings (like we’re germinating here) can grow into fruit-producing trees after 5-8 years, but I have not yet found anyone to confirm this.
The fruit, if you do get some, will vary depending on the source. Mango seedlings cannot produce fruit true to the parent plant (because they are hybrids). But grafted mango plants can (because they are clones). But really, it’s such a cool achievement to grow the plant to produce fruit, either way I’d be happy.
Watch Mango Tree TV
- How to Grow and Harvest Mangos | UCDavis.edu (PDF format)
- Mango Growing Information | extento.hawaii.edu
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How to Grow Mango From Seed
Supplies & Materials
- 1 whole Mango ripe
- 1 Tea towel or paper towels
- 1 Plastic bag or food container
- 1 8-inch Flower pot with drainage holes and saucer
- 1 bag Potting Mix
- Carefully remove all edible fruit from mango and set aside the husk. This is the seed.
- Use a soft scrub brush to remove any remaining stringy bits from husk.
- Dry husk with tea towel and set aside to further air dry for 1-2 days maximum.
- Husk should now be quite dry (crisp). Carefully cut away edges and remove husk to reveal seed inside. Do not cut seed.
- Take before photo.
- Place seed between damp tea towels or paper towels and place in plastic food bag or container. Towel should be moist but not soaking wet.
- Place bag in dark, warm kitchen cabinet.
- Set reminder on your phone to check on it every 3 days.
Check for Growth
- Every few days, unwrap seed to check for signs of growth.
- Take photos to monitor growth.
- Over the next few weeks, the seed will start to swell a bit. Shoots or roots will start appearing from one end. Some seeds are polyembryonic and may sprout from several locations.
Plant Sprouted Seed
- When the new growth is around 3 inches long, the seed is ready to be planted.
- Fill 8-inch flower pot with potting mix leaving two inches below pot lip. Water thoroughly and top up soil as needed.
- Lay sprouted seed on soil and cover in one inch of potting mix. Water again and top up soil as needed stopping one inch below lip of pot.
Grow Your Mango Plant
- Mangos are tropical plants that enjoy warmth and humidity.
- Choose a sunny location but not in direct, hot sun where it could dry out.
- Keep soil moist but not damp.