The mangosteen is a tropical tree that produces a delicious fruit with juicy flesh that tastes like a mix between peaches, lychee, pineapples, and strawberry; all the flavors of the tropics. Is it possible to grow this exotic tropical fruit tree in a container?
Mangosteen can be grown in a container 24 inches or 60cm in diameter and 12 inches or 50cm deep. The container must have good drainage, and the growing medium must be organically rich and free-draining. The trees must be well watered, can be kept in dappled shade, and fruit in 6 to 12 years.
Mangosteen not only tastes good, but the fruit has many health benefits, which is an additional motivation for gardeners to attempt growing this tree in a container. The mangosteen needs very specific growing conditions to thrive, so you need to give this tree the ideal conditions for container growing.
How To Grow Mangosteen In A Container
The mangosteen or Garcinia mangostana is a tropical fruit tree native to the countries bordering the Indian Ocean. The natural tropical conditions the tree prefers mean that care must be taken to grow this tree in similar conditions to reap a good harvest from this tree.
The tree can take some time to reach maturity and yield fruit in abundance, so some patience is needed to harvest a crop from the tree.
The native tropical environment for this tree makes it difficult to grow in locations where the growing environment is not ideal. The tree dies quickly in temperatures below 40°F or 4°C, especially young trees, and it cannot tolerate temperatures above 100°F or 37.7°C for long periods of time.
The specific growing requirements of the tree and the fact that the fruit and seeds do not travel well and quickly become non-viable should they dry out too much, make the tree fairly difficult to cultivate.
The import of mangosteen fruit was banned in the USA until 2007 unless they were irradiated or fumigated to prevent the Asian fruit fly from entering the country. This ban further slowed the availability of this tree to local gardeners.
It may take mangosteen up to 6 years to bear fruit, but in some cases, they can take up to 12 years or more to mature and produce fruit if the growing conditions are not ideal. The tree is also slow growing and can take two years or more to reach a height of 1 foot or 0.3 meters.
For this reason, we recommend obtaining a 3 to a 4-year-old tree from a nursery rather than growing the tree from seed yourself. While this can be done, it will take a long time for the tree to reach fruiting age, and non-ideal growing conditions easily damage the young trees.
Growing the tree in a container is often the best method to use for growing mangosteen, especially in climates that do not naturally provide ideal growing conditions.
How Big Does A Mangosteen Grow?
The mangosteen tree can grow to a height of between 20 feet and 80 feet, or 6 meters to 25meters, making it a relatively large tree.
However, it is a slow-growing tree with a fairly shallow root system, making it ideal for growing in a container.
Best Container For Growing Mangosteen
Since the mangosteen is a tree but is slow-growing, you can successfully grow the tree in a container with a diameter of 18 to 24 inches or 45 to 60cm and a depth of at least 20 inches or 50cm.
The container must have sufficient drainage holes to promote good drainage for the growing medium since the mangosteen likes a lot of water but does not like to have soggy roots.
A dark-colored plastic container is best if you are growing the tree in a region where the temperatures are cooler. The dark color will absorb warmth from the sun and keep the roots warm.
Clay or terracotta pots should only be used if you are growing the mangosteen in a warm, mild climate where you do not experience freezing temperatures in winter.
Best Soil For Growing Mangosteen In A Container
Mangosteen, sometimes called purple mangosteen, needs a humus-rich growing medium and does not do well in sandy or limestone soils. A premium potting soil mixed with perlite or vermiculite to promote good drainage is the ideal growing medium for mangosteen in a container.
A mixture of 75% premium potting soil with 25% perlite provides the ideal well-draining growing medium for growing mangosteen in a container.
Best Growing Conditions For Mangosteen In A Contain
If you are growing the mangosteen from seed, the best time to plant the seed is in the spring. Soak the mangosteen seed for at least 24 hours in warm water before planting.
Place the seed in the growing medium at least ½ inch or 1,2cm deep and keep the seed moist but not wet. The seed can take anywhere from 14 to 21 days to germinate.
The mangosteen should receive a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight each day. It can be positioned in a location where it will receive partial sunlight; the tree grows well with some shade. In its natural environment, the mangosteen is often inter-cropped with banana trees to provide dappled shade for the young trees. The shade must not be solid, blocking the young tree from receiving good light.
How To Care For Mangosteen In A Container
One of the most important container considerations for growing mangosteen is to provide a well-drained growing environment and never to let the growing medium dry out completely.
Water the tree when the top 1-inch of the growing medium no longer feels moist to the touch, which should be about once a week. Mangosteen does not like being watered daily, as this can lead to the roots being too wet, which can damage the tree or cause it to die.
The tree’s growth is slowed in temperatures below 68°F or 20°C, which will also cause the tree to take longer to reach fruiting age. Keep the tree in a warm spot, where it will be sheltered from the wind and will receive bright but dappled sunlight since the leaves and fruit can be scorched by hot, direct sunlight.
Feed the mangosteen once at the beginning of spring with a 20-20-20 general-purpose fertilizer. Keep the top of the growing medium well mulched to suppress weed growth and help with moisture retention.
The mangosteen increases its fruit yield with age, so while a young tree in its first fruiting year may produce 200 to 300 fruit, a mature tree at 30 years old can produce between 2000 and 3000 fruit. The trees have been known to continue fruiting until they are over 100 years old.
The mangosteen typically flowers in spring; once the fruit appears, it takes 5 to 6 months for the fruit to ripen.
If you have winters with temperatures below 40°F or 4°C, you should bring the tree indoors for the winter. Watering frequency for the mangosteen can be reduced in winter, but the growing medium must never be allowed to dry out completely.
The mangosteen is a beautiful tree with large glossy leaves and a delicious exotic, tropical fruit. It takes some effort and care to get the tree to fruiting age, but once it is well established, it does not require much maintenance.
The tree will produce more fruit each year after its first fruiting season, and the healthy, tasty crop is well worth the effort and patience.