How to Plant, Raise and Harvest the Queen of Tropical Fruit

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If you’re tired of growing the same old fruit, mangosteen might be for you. It’s a well-known pickle tree to grow, but after reading this guide, you’ll be armed to grow one of the most delicious tropical fruits out there.

You will also be becoming more expensive and it will be difficult to find fruits for which people are willing to pay good money.

Some have tried and many have failed, but that has never stopped me from trying to grow fruits that I love to eat and want to sell. If you feel the same way, then let’s get started.

What is Mangosteen?

How to Plant, Raise and Harvest the Queen of Tropical Fruit

Known as the queen of tropical fruits, mangosteen (Garcinia Mangostana) A fruit is a treasure. It is native to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia and is cultivated in India, Thailand, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Florida and Vietnam.

With a wonderful flavor that I can describe as perfectly balanced sweet tropical with only a slight acidity, and the white flesh inside is heavenly with a soft ice cream-like texture.

This evergreen tree grows up to 50 feet tall under the right conditions and requires a lot of moisture and rainfall. It has beautiful leaves that start out as a rose color before turning dark green.

Although it is fussy, if you care for it properly, it will reward you with a yearly yield of a few hundred fruits when it is young and over a thousand when it is mature. It is not unheard of for a healthy, mature tree to produce up to two thousand fruits per season.

Growing mangosteen is a long process. It can take up to 15 years to see your first harvest.

The fruit was banned from being imported into the Americas from Asia until very recently because the government wanted to avoid importing the Asian fruit fly, making it difficult for people in the Americas to get their hands on it.

how to plant mangosteen

How to Plant, Raise and Harvest the Queen of Tropical Fruit

This is a very special tree, but who doesn’t love a gardening challenge? These plants require high humidity, a lot of moisture, and a narrow temperature range. It is considered an “ultra tropical” tree, so it only does well in the U.S. on the east side of the Big Island in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the warmest parts of Florida.

Hardy to zones 11 and 12, mangosteen thrives in full sun when mature. You should be able to provide partial shade during the hottest parts of the day for the first two to three years after planting outside. You can use shady wire or even a patio umbrella to do this.

Deep loamy, sandy soil is essential and you will need to dig in well-rotted manure and quality compost while preparing the bed.

Soil pH is important, so pay special attention when planting it in your permanent home. Aim for a pH of 5.5 to 6.8.

The air temperature should not drop below 40ºF nor exceed 100ºF, especially when the tree is young or still in a container.

Mangosteen also does not like windy places, so choose a sheltered place. They also can’t handle salty conditions, so don’t plant this tree if you’re on the coast.

planting seeds

Growing mangosteen is a challenge and growing it from seed is even bigger. You can plant directly into the soil when temperatures are consistently above 55ºF in spring, but it’s a gamble. Try this method instead.

  • A fresh seed straight from a ripe fruit is best, but you can buy seeds as well.
  • Fresh seeds should have a tan outer edge with a dark, white center.
  • Dampen a paper towel and wrap it around the seed. Place in a sealable bag and put it in the fridge for at least three days until you’re ready to plant. Keep towels moist with a spray bottle if necessary.
  • Before planting, soak the seeds in pure water for 24 hours. The chemicals in treated water are not good for mangosteen seeds.
  • Using the richest potting mix you can fill an eight-inch or deeper pot two inches from the top. Place the seed on top of the soil and cover it with an inch of soil.
  • Saturate the soil until the water runs out from the bottom.
  • Keep in the sunniest place where you can. If possible, the container should be exposed to sunlight throughout the day.
  • Keep the soil moist and you will see (fingers crossed) germination in four to six weeks.

As the tree grows in the pot, transplant it into larger containers, but be very careful not to damage the delicate root. You do not want to transplant it outside unless it is at least 48 inches tall. This will take a few years because mangosteen is a notoriously slow grower.

Use sustained release fertilizer capsules to keep the medium full of nutrients.

planting saplings

Dig a deep hole, twice the width and depth of the container. Fill it halfway with nutrient-rich soil at least 30 days before planting.

Carefully insert the tree into the prepared hole, making sure to protect the taproot. Fill with soil and tamp down firmly.

If you live in a windy climate, stake the tree, but you should do your best to plant it in a place that is protected from the wind. These trees do not do well in windy environments.

Mangosteen Care

How to Plant, Raise and Harvest the Queen of Tropical Fruit

Until your mangosteen is at least three years old, you will need to fertilize it every three to four months. Use fish emulsion or fertilizer with an NPK of 16-16-16.

After three years, fertilize twice a year. Apply fish emulsion in late winter and early fall. It is important for mangosteen to maintain the nutrients consistently.

When you move the tree outside for the first time, make sure that there is consistent soil moisture for the first three months. After that water well if there is no rain.

Having said that, once you recognize the flower pattern of your mangosteen, you should stop watering just before blooming to produce better fruit. If you can’t figure it out, don’t worry. Just keep giving water.

Mangosteens require annual rainfall of at least 50 inches. Provide water if you don’t live in an area with this type of rainfall. Pool water is deadly to young trees, but older trees will survive wet feet as well.

Prune to shape and, as with all trees, prune any broken or diseased branches. Old, unproductive trees should be heavily pruned to remove dead or unproductive branches.

Companion Planting for Growing Mangosteen

Given the environment where mangosteen naturally grows, try planting with the following:

  • Peanut
  • banana
  • durian
  • Dragon fruit
  • Cherimoya
  • Guava

Common Mangosteen Growing Problems and Solutions

Mangosteen trees have a bitter latex that protects it from most insects or diseases. However, there are some common issues to watch out for.

Keep in mind that the skins can become translucent if the plants experience a lot of fluctuating rain and humidity. You can still eat the flesh, but the fruit will be very tender and prone to rotting from the tree.


The main symptom of anthracnose on mangosteen is that the flowers turn black and drop before fruiting. Typical signs of decay on the foliage are also likely. Read our article on how to identify and treat anthracnose here.

bacterial blackspot

This is a disease that, like mangosteen, loves a moist environment. Black spots with yellow edges are raised on the leaves. It can also spread to fruit.

The fruit may crack and release an infectious mess.

Use an organic fungicide as a preventative when you prune the tree. Protect the young mangosteen from the wind. Do not allow any branches to rub against each other, which can cause sores for bacteria to enter.

yellow leaves

If you notice that the leaves begin to turn yellow at the edges before spreading to the center, you likely have a deficiency. It is common for mangosteen to be deficient in nitrogen or phosphorus. Provide quality fertilizer in liquid form. Fish emulsion works well, but any fertilizer rich in nitrogen and phosphorus works.

mangosteen caterpillar

This caterpillar causes extensive damage to mangosteen leaves. It feeds on new, emerging foliage, often making the tree feel as if it is losing its leaves.

If you only see leaves along the middle vein, you probably have a caterpillar. It is a nocturnal feeder, so you might be surprised, especially since just one caterpillar can make a big impact on the tree.

Both the adult insect and the caterpillar can differ in appearance, so it is possible that there is damage to the tree and the telltale midrib is the likely sign you will see.

Use insecticide containing insecticide to control them bacillus thuringiensis.

thread blight

Thread blight is common in the southeastern United States. In the summer, the leaves will turn brown in shaded parts of the tree. This disease will usually appear after harvesting.

Use organic fungicides regularly to prevent this disease from gaining a foothold.

Mangosteen Harvesting and Uses

How to Plant, Raise and Harvest the Queen of Tropical Fruit

As long as they are fully formed, you can choose to have slightly less ripe mangosteens. If they are not, the fruit will not ripen. Full grown fruits will continue to ripen from the tree.

Do not let the fruits fall to the ground; Cut them off before this happens. Use the garden ladder to get to higher places.

When about 25 percent or more of the skin has turned purple, you’ll be fine to pick it up.

Mangosteens are best eaten fresh, added to fruit salads, or used to add sweetness to savory dishes. You can also take their juice.

Cut around the circumference of the fruit and separate the two halves. This will highlight the delicious white segments similar to oranges and mandarins. Seeds may be present, but they are usually soft and easily digestible.

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