Mango leaves will start off a deep red or brown color with then leaves are young. These young leaves lack chlorophyll or the green pigment that gives them their color. The red color will eventually turn green as the leaves are exposed to more sunlight and mature.
Young mango tree leaves will start out red which is completely normal. If mature mango tree leaves are starting to turn red then there could be a problem. This can happen if the weather is too cold or if the tree is not getting enough sunlight.
The red color in the young leaves of mango trees is due to the anthocyanin pigments in these young leaves. These pigments can help to protect young leaves from sunburn, can help to hide the young leaves from pests and can even protect them from fungal growth.
Over around 2-3 weeks the young leaves will turn green
This article will explore why mango leaves turn red, when it is a problem and how to solve it.
Why young mango tree leaves turn red
Young mango tree leaves will start out red. These young leaves will take some time to develop the chlorophyll which exists in the leaves and gives them their green color. Chlorophyll is used by the plant to transform sunlight into carbohydrates.
These carbohydrates or carbon is captured in the leaves and stems and is used to form the structures of the plant and help it to grow.
Over time as the young leaves are exposed to more sunlight they will gradually turn green. They can often look yellow in this transition process but this is just the gradual change they will make before they turn deeper green.
Mango trees will usually add new leaf growth in spring and fall depending on your climate. They love warm, tropical weather with mild summers, lots of summer rain and mild winters.
Not enough nitrogen
If young leaves are not turning green then it could be that the plant does not have enough nitrogen. The plant will need nitrogen to allow the green color to develop in the leaves. Without this the new growth can stall and the leaves can die back.
Before planting new mango trees, whether they are a seedling or grafted variety it is important to boost the soil. I like to add aged manures that contain nitrogen that will naturally break down and release to the mango roots over time.
Mix aged compost, aged cow manure and chicken manure into the soil before planting. You can also add a handful of pelleted chicken manure to boost the nitrogen even more. Plant your new mango tree in a sunny position in spring so that it has the warmth to grow rapidly.
The nitrogen in soil mix will help it to develop lots of leaves and turn the young leaves from red to green.
Why mature mango tree leaves turn red
If your mature mango tree leaves are turning red then there could be a problem. Check out the list of causes to see if any are affecting your tree.
1. Temperature is too cold
Mango trees are tropical meaning they love humidity, warmth over summer and spring and mild winters. They love lots of rainfall over the warmer months which will help them to grow loads of leaves in spring and develop flowers and fruit over summer.
If mango trees are grown in cold climates this can cause their leaves to turn brown or red on the tips. Avoid overwatering in winter where they prefer to dry out a little between watering. Surround the mango tree with mulch to protect the roots and avoid adding any fertilizer.
When the weather warms up again in spring the tree will add new growth and new leaves. Give them a feed of pelleted chicken manure and water it in well. This will give them a boost of nitrogen to help with new growth.
2. Not enough sunlight
Mango trees that are not getting enough sunlight will have slow growth and their leaves can start to turn yellow, brown or even red on the ends. Mangoes love full sun and will need this to thrive, grow new flowers and to set fruit.
Mango trees that get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight outdoors will grow best. Potted mango trees can be moved out to get full spring and summer sun and then moved back undercover in fall and winter to protect them from frosts.
3. Lack of nitrogen
Mature mango trees that are not getting enough nitrogen can lose the color in their leaves. Their leaves will turn yellow first, then brown or red on the tips. If this is not fixed the whole leaf can die back, it can lose its green color from chlorophyll and will turn fully yellow, brown or even red.
If the problem is caught early, the leaf can repair itself. Give the plant a dose of liquid fertilizer that contains nitrogen. I like to use a balance liquid fertilizer with similar amounts of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.
Follow this up with a handful of pelleted chicken manure that will slowly release nitrogen over the next 1-3 months. Add a top dressing of compost and aged cow manure in spring and cover it with mulch. This will help the plant to recover and to boost the soil.
Water it all in well and you should see green leaves return in a few weeks.
Mango Tree Leaves Turning Red | Summary
Mango leaves will naturally start out a red or brown color when they are young. This is due to the anthocyanin pigments which the plant develops to protect the leaves from sunburn, fungus and pests. Over a few weeks the leaves will gradually turn green. Older leaves that turn red or brown will be lacking something, usually sunlight, nitrogen or warmth.
Mango trees are tropical so love warm summers, lots of water during the warm weather and a feed of organic fertilizer at the start of spring. Once you see fruit and flowers appear slow down your watering to avoid fruit and flower drop.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.