If there’s been one positive outcome from the pandemic sheltering it’s the returned focus many home gardens have received. Perhaps, having finally completed that horticultural honey-do list, you now find yourself with a perfectly packed landscape. And maybe, just maybe, you’re itching for your next challenge. If so, let me introduce you to Garcinia mangostana, or mangosteen, as they are more commonly known.
While mangosteens are a tropical plant, natively grown in rich soils close to the equator, Bill Whitman did successfully first fruit one in Miami in 1977. Mangosteens occasionally make appearances at Miami-area fruit sales, but it’s not without a herculean effort.
The well-drained, alkaline soil of south Florida makes a poor host for Mangosteens, so step one is definitely to buy a nice big pot; this tree is going to be a patio plant. You’ll want to place it in a rich soil and keep it gently fertilized with a mix similar to Nutricote or 8-2-12-4 palm fertilizer.
Like many fruit trees, Mangosteens flower over the winter which adds another layer of complexity to your project. These trees are quite cold sensitive, so when we experience our annual cold snap, best keep it warm: cover if necessary and protect from the wind. Some growers in Florida go so far as park their Mangosteens in a greenhouse.
Whichever warming strategy you choose, be patient; it might take years, lots of supervision, and a little love, but success never tasted so sweet.