Choose the Best Location for Your Marang
Choosing the best location is critical to successfully growing a marang tree. Marang trees require full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours per day to produce fruit, so select a spot in your yard that gets plenty of direct sunlight throughout the day. The location should also have well-draining, fertile soil. Marang trees cannot tolerate standing water, so avoid low-lying areas where water collects.
The ideal soil for marang trees is loose, nutrient-rich, and fast-draining with a slightly acidic pH between 5 and 6.5. If you have heavy, clayey soil, you may need to amend it with compost or other organic matter to improve drainage before planting. Marang trees require fertile soil to produce fruit, so the soil should be rich in nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You may need to conduct a soil test to determine if any nutrients are lacking.
Proper spacing is also important when choosing a location. Marang trees can grow up to 20-30 feet tall with a spread of 15-20 feet, so plant at least 15-20 feet away from buildings and other trees. This will give the tree adequate room for growth and allow for proper air circulation. Once established, marang trees require little pruning to fruit.
Marang trees, known botanically as Artocarpus odoratissimus, are tropical evergreen trees native to Borneo and the Philippines. With the right location and care, a marang tree can produce fruit for 50-100 years.
Preparing the Soil for Marang
Preparing the soil before planting is one of the most important steps to ensure your marang tree thrives. Marang trees require fertile, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5 and 6.5. The ideal soil for marang trees should be loose, crumbly, and rich in organic matter. Marang trees cannot tolerate standing water, so the soil must drain well to provide proper aeration for the roots.
If you have heavy, clayey soil, you will need to improve drainage and aeration before planting. Working in 3 to 5 cubic yards of compost or other organic matter per 100 square feet of bed area should be sufficient for most soils. You can also add coarse sand or perlite to improve drainage. To test your soil’s drainage, dig a hole 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep and fill it with water. If the water does not drain within 30 minutes, the soil will need amendment.
In addition to drainage, the soil pH and nutrient levels are important for marang tree growth. Have your soil tested to determine the pH and amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. For optimum growth, marang trees require:
- pH between 5 to 6.5: Slightly acidic soil is ideal. If the pH is too alkaline, you can lower it by applying sulfur or iron sulfate. If too acidic, apply lime.
- Moderate nitrogen: Nitrogen helps with healthy foliage growth. Lack of nitrogen will cause leaves to turn light green or yellow. The ideal range is 0.15 to 0.5% nitrogen.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus aids in flowering and fruit production. Aim for phosphorus levels of at least 60 to 120 parts per million.
- Potassium: Potassium helps the plant regulate water and nutrients and improves fruit quality and yield. The optimal potassium level for marang trees is between 150 to 250 parts per million.
- Well-draining but moisture retentive: While marang trees cannot sit in standing water, the soil should still retain some moisture. Sandy, gravelly soils will require more frequent irrigation and may necessitate the use of compost or mulch.
- Rich in organic matter: Work 3 to 6 inches of compost, peat moss, rotted manure or leaf mold into the top 8 to 12 inches of soil prior to planting. This provides nutrients to feed the tree and helps the soil hold moisture.
With the proper location and soil conditions, a marang tree will produce sweet, tangy fruit for many decades. Putting in the work to prepare the soil before planting will give your marang tree the best start in life.
Planting Your Marang Tree
Once you have selected an ideal location and prepared the soil, you are ready to plant your marang tree. Marang trees are usually grown from seed, though young seedlings or grafted trees may also be available from some nurseries. For the best results, choose a healthy, disease-free tree to plant.
To plant a marang tree, dig a hole at least two to three times the size of the root ball and the same depth. For a young seedling or tree in a container, the root ball should be intact when removed from its pot. Place the tree in the planting hole and check that it is straight. The top of the root ball should sit level with or slightly above the surrounding soil.
- Burying the root ball too deep can lead to root rot.
- If the surrounding soil level is slightly higher (1-2 inches) than the top of the root ball, that is acceptable and will not harm the tree as long as the soil below the root ball has been loosened for good drainage and root growth.
Backfill the hole with the soil you removed, tamping it down gently around the base of the tree as you go to avoid air pockets. Water the soil thoroughly after planting to help it settle around the roots.
- Do not plant the tree deeper than the level at which it was originally in its container. Placing too much soil over the root ball can cut off oxygen to the roots and cause trunk rot or short-lived leaves.
For the first few years after planting, marang trees require regular irrigation. Water the tree at least once a week, providing enough water to soak the entire root zone. The area below the tree canopy, known as the drip line, is where the majority of the roots are located and will require the most water.
- As a general rule, aim to provide about 1 inch of water per week for young marang trees. Measure the water applied by placing a rain gauge or straight-sided container under your sprinkler or at different points below the drip line.
To help retain moisture in the soil, apply 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch such as compost, bark, or wood chips around the base of the tree. Leave a 6-inch space around the trunk free of mulch. Mulch will also help prevent weed growth and moderate soil temperature.
With the right location, soil conditions and care after planting, a marang tree can thrive for many decades and produce an abundance of fruit. Planting a marang tree is an investment that will reward you with many harvests for years to come.
Caring for Your Marang Tree
Once established, marang trees require relatively little maintenance. However, for the first few years after planting, diligent care and pruning can mean the difference between a small harvest and an abundant one. The essential requirements for a young marang tree are:
Water: Marang trees need moderate but consistent moisture, especially for the first 3 years. Water the tree thoroughly at least once a week, providing 1 to 2 inches of water at a time. The soil should dry out slightly between waterings but not completely. Mulch around the base of the tree will help retain soil moisture. As the tree matures, watering frequency can decrease to once every few weeks during dry weather.
Fertilizer: In early spring before new growth starts and again in midsummer, fertilize your marang tree. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium such as 10-10-10. For young trees, apply 1/2 to 1 pound of fertilizer for every inch of trunk diameter. Spread the granules around the drip line of the canopy. Over-fertilizing can burn the roots, so follow the directions on the product packaging.
Pruning: Once a marang tree establishes a strong, upright central leader, little pruning is required. However, for the first 3 to 5 years, pruning is important to develop a proper branching structure. Remove any branches that are crossing or tightly angled, as well as any dead or damaged branches. Thin the canopy slightly to improve air circulation, but avoid removing more than 1/4 of the branches in any one season.
Marang trees blossom on terminals spurs, so avoid heavy pruning which can reduce fruiting. Most pruning should be done after the threat of frost has passed, but before flowering in spring. Mature marang trees may need structural pruning every few years to remove dead branches and maintain clearance and spread.
Pests and diseases: In general, marang trees are tolerant of most common pests and diseases. However, they can be prone to fruit fly and occasional fungal infections, especially in humid climates. The most common diseases include anthracnose, stem canker, and pink disease. Practice good sanitation by removing and disposing of fallen fruit and foliage. Treat fungal diseases with a routine spray of sulfur or lime-based fungicide according to label directions.
With the proper care and maintenance, a marang tree will provide delicious fruit for many years. While young trees require more attention, established marang trees are relatively low-maintenance. Their spreading canopy and fragrant flowers make them an attractive addition to any tropical garden.
Harvesting and Using Your Marang Fruits
After 3 to 5 years, a marang tree will produce its first harvest. Marang fruits take 5 to 6 months to develop from flowering to ripe fruit. The fruits will start out green and hard, turning yellowish-red as they ripen. Marang fruits are ready to harvest once they turn color and yield slightly to pressure. You can leave fruits on the tree for some time after ripening, but they are best picked once fully colored as they tend to spoil quickly on the tree.
To harvest marang fruits, use pruning shears or scissors to cut the fruit from the tree. Twist or snap the fruit from the branch instead of cutting if possible, as this reduces the chance of damage. Catch the fruit in your hand as it falls or place a tarp below the tree to collect the fruit. Handle the fruit carefully to avoid bruising, and use it quickly or refrigerate.
Storing marang fruits: Freshly picked marang fruits will last up to 1 week when stored properly. For best results:
• Refrigerate the fruits immediately after harvesting. The ideal temperature is 45 to 55 F.
• Do not wash the fruit until ready to eat. Washing removes the natural waxy bloom and decreases storage time.
• Place fruits in a perforated plastic bag. This helps retain moisture without causing excess condensation which can lead to spoilage. Punch holes in the bag or use a mesh produce bags.
• Check fruits every couple days and remove any spoiled ones. Sort through the fruits and use first any that are damaged or overripe.
• For longer term storage, marang fruits can be pickled or made into chutneys and jams. They can also be frozen for several months. Peel, slice and seed the fruits, then freeze in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
Using marang fruits: Marang fruits have a sour, tangy flavor and are often cooked before eating. They work well in many recipes and can be:
• Pickled – Marang fruits are frequently pickled whole or sliced. The pickling process softens the fruits and reduces sourness.
• Made into chutneys and jams – Marang chutneys and jams are popular in Southeast Asian cuisine. The fruits are cooked down with sugar and spices until thickened.
• Added to curries – Marang fruits provide a tangy accent to many curries. They are usually added during the last few minutes of cooking.
• Blended into drinks – When seeded and peeled, marang fruits can be blended into juices, smoothies and other drinks. Sweeteners are usually added due to the sourness.
• Candied – For a special treat, marang fruits can be candied by cooking in a sugar syrup. Roll the candied fruits in sugar and enjoy.
A marang tree can produce 200-500 lbs of fruit each year when mature, so home growers may have an abundance of fruit. Fortunately, marang fruits have many uses and the excess can be sold, traded or donated. Their versatility and high yield make marang an excellent fruit tree for home gardens.