Little Gem Mango Grow Guide

Little Gem is a ‘Triple Threat’ Mango because it checks the three most important boxes that many mango growers are looking for:

  • Excellent Disease Resistance
  • Prolific Fruit Production
  • Low Vigor Growth

Honestly, Little Gem is a true gem in the world of mango cultivation 💎

With that being said, this grow guide will cover everything that you need to know about Little Gem Mango:

Table of Contents

Little Gem Mango Tree Growth Habit & Fruit Production

The Little Gem Mango is considered a small-sized mango tree.

Little Gem Mangos have a low vigor & spreading growth habit that produces a very dense and compact canopy. As a result, Little Gem can realistically be kept between 6 – 10 feet tall with annual pruning. With that being said, Little Gem would do well long-term in containers and would be considered a “condo” mango.

While Little Gem exhibits low vigor and a compact growth habit, it is not classified as a true dwarf tree like Julie, Pickering or Dwarf Hawaiian. Instead, Little Gem Mango can be best described as a semi-dwarf tree, sharing a size and growth habit more akin to Carrie. However, it’s worth noting that the specific rootstock onto which Little Gem is grafted onto does have a significant impact on the tree’s overall vigor.

A Young Little Gem Mango Tree
Image Credit: Clark Family Orchards

Little Gem Mango is highly precocious, flowering easily and producing a prolific amount of baseball-sized fruit with no issues. Consequently, Little Gem’s fruit production consistently ranges from good to heavy. The mangos themselves are small to medium-sized fruits that typically weigh between 0.75 – 1.25 lbs.

I’ve noticed that the variation in fruit size is largely dependent on the number of fruits present on the individual clusters. If having fewer but larger fruits is important to you, consider doing some quick thinning before the fruits become too large. Conversely, if you prefer more, smaller fruits, you can skip the thinning process.

Furthermore, in contrast to Okrung, which tends to produce clusters of smaller fruit with a larger seed, Little Gem features a very small seed. As a result, Little Gem boasts a favorable seed-to-flesh ratio.

Little Gem Mango Flavor Profile

Little Gem Mangos are considered an Indian Flavored Mango.

Slicing through the thick skin reveals an extremely juicy yet firm, fiberless flesh. Over the years, I’ve noticed that if the flesh appears more pale yellow, the mango is not at its peak ripeness and may not be as sweet. You’ve truly hit the jackpot when cutting open the fruit reveals a deep yellowish-orange flesh 😊

When perfectly ripe and mature, the fruit’s aroma will give off whiffs of classic mango and coconut.

A Perfectly Ripe & Mature Little Gem Mango
Image Credit: Tropical Acres Farms

From a flavor perspective, Little Gem mango offers a rich and sweet spiciness, reminiscent of mango varieties like Jakarta, Dwarf Hawaiian, Phoenix, Julie, or Carrie, but with the spiciness dialed down a few notches. Eating closer to the skin will reveal an increase in resinous flavors but will not overwhelm the palate.

The fruit also possesses a strong acidic element that balances perfectly with its sweetness, creating notes of coconut, pineapple, citrus, and apricot. As it ripens, the coconut flavor intensifies, resembling M-4 more than Coconut Cream. The aftertaste brings to mind the flavors of Graham.

A Perfectly Ripe & Mature Little Gem Mango Cut Into Slices
Image Credit: Tropical Acres Farms

What I particularly love about Little Gem is its status as one of the rare late-season Indian-flavored mangos. The only variety that comes close, though with less complexity, is Neelum.

In my opinion, if you enjoy mangos like Julie, Carrie, or Graham, you’ll probably fall in love with Little Gem.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Little Gem Mangos produce monoembryonic seeds, which means that planting a seed from a Little Gem Mango won’t yield another Little Gem Mango Tree.

Little Gem Mango Season (And When To Pick)

Little Gem Mangos are considered a late season mango (July – Aug).

However, depending on the previous winter’s weather conditions, it’s not uncommon for some people to harvest their final crop of Little Gem as late as mid-September. This is because Little Gem blooms later than most varieties, which is a significant advantage if you are located in an area that is prone to a potential frost.

This later bloom can be particularly beneficial for growers like myself in central Florida.

A Mature & Ripe Little Gem Mango
Image Credit: Luxury Fruit Connect

Furthermore, Little Gem is known for its extended season, so you don’t need to worry about having to enjoy all of the fruit at once. What’s particularly intriguing about Little Gem is that its flavor profile can change drastically depending on when it’s harvested throughout the season.

More specifically, Little Gem’s taste can resemble that of its relatives depending on when it’s picked, how long it ripens off the tree, and the time of the season. I’ve tasted some fruit that reminded me more of Graham and Dwarf Hawaiian. Whereas I’ve also had firmer, less ripe fruit with more resin that had a flavor more consistent with that of a firm Carrie.

However, when the fruit is allowed to fully ripen in the later part of the season, Little Gem develops a strong coconut essence. Consequently, it can feel like having multiple varieties on one tree. As a result, you can simply enjoy the fruit when it suits your taste preferences. So keep this in mind when harvesting your fruit.

The best time to pick Little Gem Mangos are when they are mature and beginning to ripen on the tree. From a color perspective, this is when the fruit is beginning to show signs of yellow color break. Little Gem Mango is perfectly ripe when the majority of the fruit’s skin transitions to a yellow color.

Little Gem can also develop a beautiful pinkish-orange blush around the fruit. However, it’s important to remember that a mango’s blush has nothing to do with the fruit’s ripeness. A rule of thumb to remember is that More Sun = More Blush, Less Sun = Less Blush.

Aside from color, here are some additional tips to knowing when Little Gem Mango is ready to pick:

  • Is the fruit beginning to soften ever so slightly? (my usual go to characteristic to look for with Little Gem)
  • Is the fruit beginning to emit a fruity aroma?
  • Is the fruit full-sized and has a plump appearance?
  • How does the stem look? Is it drying up near where it connects to the fruit?

Additionally, even when the fruit appears overripe, it’s important to note that Little Gem is slow to develop any off-flavors. By the same token, I’ve also found that Little Gem doesn’t respond well to being picked too early (it won’t ripen properly). Therefore, make sure to look for the above indicators before harvesting!

Little Gem Mango Disease Resistance

Little Gem Mango has excellent disease resistance to most disease including Anthracnose and Bacterial Black Spot. As a result, Little Gem would be an excellent addition to yards with less than ideal conditions, such as higher humidity levels and low winds.

Little Gem Mango History

The Little Gem Mango was initially propagated in Boynton Beach, Florida by Gary Zill, and its original planting name was #29-26.

Little Gem is a seedling of Julie. It’s pollinating parent is speculated to have been Gary.

Additionally, Little Gem is also a sibling to Super Julie, Dwarf Hawaiian, Juliette, Sophie Fry & Graham.

Little Gem Mango Tree For Sale

Thanks to Little Gem’s excellent flavor profile, prolific fruit production, and desirable growth habit, it has become a very popular mango cultivar in the Florida Nursery Trade. While I’ve seen these trees for sale over the years, they are becoming increasingly challenging to source as more and more people discover this variety.

With that being said, if you are unable to find one at a local nursery, your next best option is checking out Tropical Acres Farms (not sponsored). They are the only legit place online (from my experience) that you are getting exactly what you are paying for. 

They have over 300 varieties of mangos available. You can either order budwood to graft yourself or submit a grafting request to have a grafted tree created for you. They do ship!

Conclusion

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If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned in this grow guide, please comment them below! This way, others can also benefit from the answer to the same question. For any other questions or growing tips that you think may be helpful, feel free to use the contact form and drop me a line.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

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Matthew Rowlings

I have an Associates Degree in Biology from the University of Florida and am also an active Florida Master Gardener. I am located in Central Florida (Zone 10A) and have 6+ years of experience with growing 20+ types of tropical trees. You can learn more about me and why I started Tropical Tree Guide on my about page.

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