How to plant mangoes
Q: Back in March, you wrote about growing avocados from seed and I was fascinated with your answer. I then tried to grow two Persea americana avocado from seeds with the toothpick method, and I was very successful. The tallest tree being almost 2 feet tall and being ready for ground planting.
My question to you concerns mangos. How do you grow a mango tree from a seedling? I have researched online but keep coming up with no explanations as to what to do with the seed in order to plant it and get it to germinate and grow. I live in Bradenton and would love to experiment and try and grow my own mango trees. Could you please help me?
Alan Strudas, Bradenton
A: To plant your mango pit, Mangifera indica, first clean and dry the seed on the kitchen counter for a week while choosing a container that is 3 to 4 inches wider than the pit is long, 8 to 12 inches deep, and with drain holes (a 3-gallon nursery container is ideal). Purchase a bag of peat-based potting mix — such as Pro-Mix, Metro-Mix, Jiffy Mix or Miracle-Gro Potting Mix — and slightly moisten as you fill the container to 4 inches from the top. Lay seed flat and add another 3 inches of mix, water in and place in a sunny spot. Water daily, and in a couple of weeks you should see it sprout. When roots fill the container, approximately 2 feet of growth, plant into the landscape and, depending on the variety, you might see flowering in four to seven years.
Orange tree is likely too old
Q: I have a smallish orange tree in my yard that's about 35 years old. It seems like it's dying. There are gray spots on the bark and the bark is cracking and peeling. It has only a few leaves and many obvious dead branches. Any hope?
A: I have sad news about your orange tree: It's time to play taps and move on. From your description, its age and the peeling bark leads me to believe that it has "foot rot," a root-rotting fungus that kills the tree slowly as the root system declines. So, time to replant another orange or go wild and plant a Lychee, Litchi chinensis; star fruit, Averrhoa carambola; or mango, Mangifera indica. Give it some thought!
With proper care, yucca should recover
Q: My yucca tree leaves are all turning brown and drying up. I don't know why. The tree looks like it is dying. What should I do?
A: Your yucca is probably spineless yucca (Yucca elephantipes) and the old leaves naturally fold back as they turn brown and die. Being a desert plant, they don't like too much water because it will promote root rot.
If the newer leaves are yellowing, stunting and browning, the root system is declining. Eliminate irrigation and begin treating with Agri-Fos Systemic fungicide as a foliage spray and soil drench as instructed on the label. Depending on the amount of damaged root system, you may be able to turn the problem around.