Yes, it is true, you can successfully grow AND FRUIT mangoes in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout low elevation Northern California UNPROTECTED in the best microclimates and with minor winter protection within the colder zones.
OK, if you are an extreme garden junkie like me, you will have noticed that you go through severe obsessive compulsive phases focusing on a narrow type of plants, a family, genus or even one specific cultivar. I tend to get especially excessively compulsive when it is a plant I love and I am told that it won't grow here. This springs me into action to prove everyone wrong. This was true of palms when I was told as a child that only 3 types of palms would grow in the Bay Area, now, over 40 years later, I sell over a hundred different types. Likewise, I was told subtropical gardening in the Bay Area was virtually impossible, yet now, I know of many more super awesome locally adapted gorgeous tropical plants than could ever be fit into one garden. We have too many choices. Then I was told that avocados won't grow here, which then spawned a 15 year obsession that continues to this day and an orchard of over 26 varieties thriving in on my back hill and a belly I need to manage more closely because of all those wonderful "good" fat calories I consume each day, let alone hundreds of trees that thrive and fruit all over the Bay Area that I myself grew and offered for sale at our nursery. What now????
Impossible you say? Please tell that to the mango tree growing 2'-3' a year in an unprotected location outside at my Winters, CA ranch just 55 miles away as the crow flies from Pier 39 in San Francisco. I think it may disagree with you. It knows not that it is not supposed to grow here. This tree is incredibly vigorous and should fruit within 2-3 years being about 5 years old, as seedling plants take about 4-8 years to reach fruit bearing age. It's 10' tall now as of 8/2/18. I believe it is the northern most successfully grown mango tree in the world at 38.53 degrees north latitude. PROVE ME WRONG! If you send me a pic of your LARGER mango tree growing north of this point I will post it here and it will wear the crown of WORLD'S MOST NORTHERLY MANGO. And if you say, "Oh, it may grow, but it will never fruit", THEN WATCH THIS! A tree I discovered growing in Pittsburg, CA at 37.9 degrees north latitude that produces prodigious amounts of fruit each year:
MANGOES FOR YOUR NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BACKYARD!!!
Golden Gate Palms offers for sale grafted mango cultivars such as 'Glenn' which is known for being an easy grower and heavy and reliable fruiter, to 'Bailey's Marvel' which is known as the most cold hardy mango, or "Carrie" that produces super delicious fruit on a smaller scale and is a compact dwarf tree perfect for smaller more compact gardens or even large container growing. There is no reason why these plants should not succeed for you if you place them in the hottest most frost free part of your garden with the most amount of light, and ideally, reflected light. A best place would be on a south facing wall right in front of a swimming pool that reflects up light onto the plant and moderates the temperature on cold nights. Bay Area microclimates that would be ideal for mangoes would be mostly frost free slopes of the Southern Bay Area such as Hayward, Fremont, San Jose etc where the temps are warmer because of the distance from the cold fog door of the Golden Gate opening, or open ocean exposure, or deep inland like places like Pittsburg, Antioch or Oakley where it also gets hot but where you are close to the delta waters which also moderate winter time lows. Or in most San Francisco Bay Area locales on sunny south, east, or west facing slopes well above the prevailing valley floors where heat is built up during the day and heavy cold air is drained off at night. Or even espaliered on any south facing wall where the warmth of the building will radiate out and protect the tree on cold frosty nights.
And if you live in the winter colder zones or want to give your baby tree the best chance possible, build a cold frame that can support frost protection cloth in Winter and grow these plants just about anywhere that heat builds up and keep them pruned each year to fit into the frost protection house and remove the cover from April - November. Better yet, do that and add some large water bottles around the tree and the water will act as a heat sink releasing relative heat when temps are at their lowest. Or throw some Xmas lights on the tree. The whole trick is to not let young trees drop below 28 degrees and older mature trees below 25 degrees during the very few and far between hours that temps get that low in your garden. They are about as cold hardy as a common Meyer Lemon, Hibiscus plant, or Bougainvillea. If you kill those every year, then your microclimate is probably too cold, but if you see these types of plants thriving in your neighborhood, GAME ON!
BEST TO GO BIG!
Young mango trees, like all babies, are much more tender than their larger more mature counterparts. And although we strive to carry all sizes and accommodate all budgets, we highly recommend starting with the largest plants you can afford to allow the highest chance of success and establishment, as the larger the plants are that you start with, generally, the greater your success rate for establishment will be. We sell grafted plants as well as seedling plants. Grafted plants will come true to type being exact replicas of their parents, will fruit right away since sexually mature fruiting wood is used for grafting, but will tend to grow less vigorously and stay smaller than seedling grown plants and be more expensive as the labor involved in grafting is time consuming and therefore costly. Seedlings on the other hand will be more vigorous, cost less, not always be true to type, and will require 3-8 years before they make fruit.
SIZES AND PRICING
See the various sizes we sell below keeping in mind that all food producing product is sold sales tax free
Gary Gragg shows off mangos grown from a 14' tall tree in Pittsburg California that was never protected since being planted from a 5 gallon plant 8 years ago. Today it is 14' tall by 14' wide (as of 8/12/18) and fruits prolifically each year.
4) And last but certainly not least, above is our starter grafted 3 gallon size that believe it or not can actually fruit, although you shouldn't let it until it becomes larger to prevent all the energy of the plant going to fruit and not growth. It measures out at around 3' tall by 1' wide. This size ranges in price from $95-$135.
3) Above is our grafted 7 gallon size that already has a nice tree shape to it with multiple branches and a fair amount of mature wood thereby making it hardier than our smallest 3 gal plants. It measures out at around 5' tall by 3' wide. This size ranges in price from $225-$325.
2) This dynamic mango marketing duo show off our 15 gal sized seedling version. This particular variety is named 'Coriente' which is popular in Mexico and means 'runner' because of its fast and aggressive growth. It stands at about 5' tall by 3' wide and will be fruiting soon. This size ranges in price from $185-$225.
1) Mango customers Daisy and Leslie model our largest grafted offering in a 25 gallon container below. This 'Glenn' tree is about 8' tall by 5' wide and is fruiting right away as Leslie on left demonstrates. This size ranges in price from $450-$750.
Mangoes are the quintessential fruit of the tropics. They are so universally thought to be delicious that they are the national fruit of India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, and the national tree of Bangladesh. The Mango originated in South Asia and has been grown and enjoyed there for thousands of years. It was one of the first useful plants of man to be spread all over the world to basically every possible place where it would grow, and now to your backyard. Thousands of cultivars have been developed over this time period offering a myriad of complex tastes, textures and colors. Of course, we in California get only a very few of these types from the massive treasure trove available.
This fruit is so loved and revered that it appears in historical poetry, classic writings, cultural practices and art for thousands of years. This is one well loved fruit. And I personally think that the Mango is the most sensual and seductive of fruits with its sunset vibrant colors, smooth sensuous texture, and copious amount of sweet juices. Share it with a partner. Feed it to each other. Then call me in the morning to see if you agree.
The mangoes we get locally in the store, like most fruits and vegetables, have no real comparison to those that are homegrown. First, we are force fed just a few different varieties that were selected for us by the growers not because of how they taste but rather how conducive they are to the shipping process. Think store bought tomatoes verse home grown. And like avocados, because of long shipping times, they are picked too early for optimum flavor, and then are refrigerated to preserve them further degrading their taste. And who knows how much pesticide was used on these mainly Mexican imports? Furthermore all mangoes imported into California must be treated for bugs and are nearly all hot water immersed in 120 degree water for nearly 2 hours to kill off unwanted insects, larvae, or eggs. This basically cooks the mango and not only kills the bugs but also kills off much of the mango's flavor and internal biological life. You are basically eating a mango corpse after this process with dying cells rather than a living organism when fresh picked. There is much study being done on the health benefits of eating fresh LIVING produce with all of the magical dynamics of living breathing cells and complex chemical components therein. No wonder fresh tastes good. Millions of years of evolution have taught our taste buds to be rewarded when we eat fresh and evolution seems to be much smarter than we so why should we argue with it?
And to throw a silver lining into the global warming phenomena, as each year passes, it becomes less and less likely that we will ever again in our lifetimes experience the record low temperatures of the past. Most all of the coldest temperatures and freezes recorded in California occurred many, many years ago, particularly in the 1930's whereas the hottest temperatures and warmest years overall, have mostly occurred in the past 20 years. In our neck of the woods, the absolute lowest temperatures occur in December or January near to the shortest days of the year when the jet stream decides to alter it's normal direction of flow from west to east normally blowing relatively warm air off the Pacific onto California and instead runs up to the Arctic, grabs a bunch of super chilled air, then heads down over Western Canada, heads across the border over Montana, Idaho, and Washington State, runs across Oregon and Nevada and then ultimately enters California over the already frigid Cascades and Sierra Nevada and into our backyards.
When this rare jet stream set of circumstances sets up around the shortest days of the year near solstice, it brings with it the coldest temperatures from the starting point at the Arctic as that time of year there is no sunlight whatsoever in the Arctic and hence temperatures are at their lowest. However, overall global temperatures are on the rise and temperature rise in the Arctic is increasing faster than anywhere else on Earth. What does this mean for the average California wannabe mango grower? It means that the refrigerator door may get left open again blowing cold air into our face, but the refrigerator is nowhere near as cold as it used to be so if the same dynamics that caused the great freezes of 1990 and the 1930's were to occur today, and especially into the foreseeable future, the freeze event will likely be much less severe. Add to this the relentlessly growing phenomena of the urban heat island effect of ever growing swaths of climate modifying asphalt, concrete, buildings, heat generating electricity use, heated buildings emitting leaking to the atmosphere, fireplaces, internal combustion engines, and endless crowds of 98.6 degree humans and pets walking all around, and you betchya, the overall temperature goes up in a given region. This effect grows day by day with population growth which we have had aplenty. So therefore, I am willing to bet that we will never again (knock on wood) see a freeze the likes of the 1990 freeze in our lifetimes.
I believe that we are now at a critical inflection point where normal crop growing zones will be shifting northward and so will it be with mangoes. Mark my word, you will see commercial mango orchards in Northern California in your lifetime assuming you dodge the grasp of the grim reaper long enough. And of course I will be putting my money where my mouth is and starting a commercial grove/germplasm research center at my Winters Ranch. I'll be the guinea pig and of course report back.
Golden Gate Palms Super Awesome
Mango Video Series
Pittsburg Gamechanger Tree, World's Northernmost Mango?
Eating Northern California Grown Baby Mangoes
Another Fruiting Mango Tree in Pittsburg
How to Grow Mango Trees in Northern California
Gary’s Mango Tree in Winters, CA- 38.5 degrees N Lattitude
Grafted Verse Ungrafted Mango Trees
Mango Image Gallery
The above is a mature fruit cluster of the 15' tall, 8 year in the ground, unprotected, undamaged ever, Philippine Mango from Pittsburg, CA- The most northerly successful tree probably in the World I believe (until proved wrong which I will post on this website when that eventually happens). This is a perfect cluster of 6 fruit (one barely visible in the background) shot in early August of 2018. I believe this is the best photo of a Northern California produced mango fruit cluster EVER, and believe me, these mangoes are delicious. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. I want this site to be a central source of success stories for Mangoes grown north of San Luis Obispo. I believe this is where the climate really shifts into a Northern California regime. If you send your mango related photos to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will post them with your name (if you want) and general growing location and any quick notes on how you were successful in growing your mangos to give inspiration to others, including me. The pics will be posted in the following gallery.
Mangoes, Mangoes and More Mangoes!!!
Send me pics of your Northern California Mango Successes and I will post them here
And as Mango Trees are sun emergent forest dwellers (like avocados), they are basically evolutionarily designed to germinate in the shade of larger trees, and shoot up through the layers of forest around them in the competition for light and to find a hole up in the canopy and reach for it and then and only then push its head out into the bright sunlight it so craves. By the time it reaches this level, it has a bounty of leaf material that shades its under structure from the sun directly overhead. Seldom does a juvenile mango branching structure in habitat see the sun because of this phenomena and most always it is from directly overhead and filtered by its leafy canopy. HOWEVER, we gardener mango salsa junkies dictate that our new friend get planted in full baking sun, often with no shade relief the entire day.
In the typical garden setting, low angle sun, that would normally be filtered by the neighboring trees of the forest in habitat, sneaks into the tree and can cause the tender green skin of immature stems and trunk to sunburn to a sad black color. This will stunt the tree's growth and can even kill it in extreme cases. What to do????? Go find some white or near white latex paint, mix it 50/50 with water and paint every green stem and branch that has sunlight beaming onto it. The more goofy your tree looks, the better job you did- like that funny looking guy on the beach with all the zinc oxide coated all over his nose. No sunburn for him!
And don't forget to pick up your perfect trifecta of planting materials on the way out!
You will want to mix a bag of Citrus and Palm Planting Mix 50/50 with your existing soil to backfill your new mango factory, liberally mulch with a bag of our Micro Bark Mulch, then fertilize as directed with our Citrus and Fruit Tree Food. And rest assured that all three of these products are sustainably and locally produced just 30 miles from our nursery thereby leaving a very small environmental foot print on our tiny shared little blue and green precious one of a kind spinning rock. KEEP THE BAGS AND USE FOR A SECONDARY PURPOSE PLEASE!