If you’re tired of waiting for your mangoes to ripen, one of Florida’s fruit experts has some advice: You don’t have to wait.
Peak mango season in South Florida is usually mid July, but with some careful planning, you can eat sweet, ripened fruit almost half the year, said Noris Ledesma, curator of tropical fruit (an actual job) at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
The key, she says, is planting trees that fruit throughout the growing season. There are a variety of hardy trees suited to South Florida that bear fruit in May, the middle of summer or as late November, Ledesma said. And some are small enough to grow in a pot on an apartment balcony.
“That way, you don’t have to eat your mangoes all at once,” said Ledesma, who hosts the annual Mango Festival at Fairchild July 13-14.
Sound too ambitious? Ledesma said don’t picture the towering mango tree in your backyard, most likely a Haden — called the “granddaddy of all mangoes,” a variety bred from a single tree in Coconut Grove more than 100 years ago. It grows all over Miami and is sold commercially. (The original Haden tree still stands.)
Instead, consider buying one of the varieties that grow small enough so that you can have several trees in a suburban back yard — and some tiny cultivars you can grow in pot.
Now, to those in South Florida who hate mangoes — yes, Miami, monsters are real — that may sound like a nightmare. But to Ledesma and other mango lovers, it’s a dream.
“Last year, I was eating mangoes on my birthday — in November,” she said.
Here’s the plan for growing mangoes you can eat for a full six months:
Angie, Cogshall and Manilita all fruit early in the season. Nam Doc Mai and Mallika bear fruit in the middle of summer. And Neelum and Keitt fruit late, reliably in September through October. All varieties are readily available at nurseries in South Florida, Ledesma said.
The best news? Ledesma said the three early-fruiting varieties are also the smallest. And the Manilita is “super tiny” for apartment dwellers.
“You win either way you slice it,” she said.