Papaya -How long from bloom to ripe fruit

Blooming_annie(z 8/9, Chas, SC)August 20, 2008

Hello everyone. How long does it take papaya to ripen once it has set fruit? I have 3 vigorous 6 ft tall plants that are all budding now and I would be absolutely ecstatic to get fruit. Might even be a moot point as the buds haven't opened yet so I don't know whether I have boys or girls or its. Not sure of the variety but it might be a Maradol if that helps. Our first frost is frequently after Thanksgiving. Oh, and the plants were started last fall and overwintered in a greenhouse.

Thanks for any input and tips.


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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi Anne,

That's an excellent question, although I can't tell you exactly how long, I might be able to give you a guesstimate...a little back history, I live in FL so my 2 plants are planted in the ground. Jan of this year we had a freeze that killed the whole top of my papayas, they are planted 7 months before. It did not kill the tree, just the whole top with leaves and fruit all turned brown and died. I cut the whole top off each tree and figured I had nothing to lose, hoping a new branch would re-grow and it did after about a few weeks...around mid Feb. Here is a picture I just took today and as you can see 6 months later the fruit is nowhere ripe at this point. Maybe two/three more months? I think I started getting flowers mid to late March. I noticed it takes a long time for these guys to ripen on the tree. Usually we won't get frost(if we're lucky) till late Dec/early Jan? For me, my best guess from flower to ripe fruit 7-9 months?

Hope that helped some, sorry for the long post...

You can see where I cut the whole top off...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 9:24PM
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I sure hope you didn't plant your papayas in the ground. Your flowers are at least 3 or 4 months away from producing ripe fruit. In other words, your going to need at least another few months of WARM weather to get fruit and your cool weather is just around the corner when the fruit will just sit there and not ripen. You have to get those plants back into your greenhouse this winter and you'll have ripe fruit next summer.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 9:16PM
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I have a single papaya tree in the Arizona desert. It is about 2yrs. old. It has perhaps twenty fruit looking much like those in the picture above. It must be a hermaphrodite as I am aware of no other papayas in the neighborhood.

It is actually a volunteer, sprouted near the compost pile and surprisingly survived last winter with three nights in a row of below 28F. It is on the east side of the house against the wall, so it gets PM shade (although it is now grown above the roof line)

The first few fruit set several months ago, but many more have set since and even more in the last month.

The trunk is ~8" in diameter and the tree is over 15' tall.

Will the fruit ripen before mid-Dec when it starts to get cooler? Obviously I can't take it indoors.

The leaves are recently turning yellow, not just the bottom set which drop off, but more uniform throughout the plant.

Should I fertilize?

Any suggestions on getting the most out of this surprise?


    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 5:20PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I would go ahead and fertilize...from what I've read Papayas likes fertilizer. When my tree was young,I fert. often, once a month. Mine is almost two years, so I have not done it much. Few yellow leaves are normal, but if you have it on most of the plant, it sounds like maybe nitrogen defiency, I would use a complete fertilizer and water it in well...

As far as whether it will ripen by mid Dec, if the fruit are about the same size as above, there is a chance it will, that is 3 1/2 months away, but its hard to be sure. You can ripen them on the counter once you see some blushing of color on the skin, don't pick it too soon or it will rot. I have cooked with green papaya before(used as green zucchini) Do a search on "green papaya", there are some recipes out there on GW.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 2:33PM
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Just started growing papaya last year. 3 survived 26F 3 nights. Other two slowing rotting down toward roots. Fruit on the survivor looks OK. Will appreciate any and all advice. It is now March and my plants (all) are recovering from the freeze. Tks. John

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 10:43AM
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coke_nut(9b Orlando)

I'm wondering why my fruit is falling to the ground. They are getting plenty enough water (it's been raining quite often). The fruit is almost ready to turn from green to yellow. And they are falling to the ground. Not sure whats causing it. Anyone with the same problem ?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 7:11PM
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steiconi(12a-Big Island, HI)

green papaya salad is a Thai staple. Yum! So you can at least rescue the underripe fruit if you get a frost too soon

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:07AM
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I've heard that Papayas take months to ripen and I'm curious about these little guys--are they faster? Fruits are about the size of an apricot. I have a rooted cutting taken from the plant below in March--it's already about to bloom. This is a mountain Papaya hybrid of some sort. One of the parents is supposed to be Vasconcellea pubescens. The hybrid known as Babaco also has V. pubescens as a parent, and has much larger fruits that take months to mature.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 11:57PM
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Here in south florida they are an invasive species (Grow even in my lawn; I see the sprouts every time I cut the grass!) and they ripen in about a month. Here they grow everywhere and during monsoon season they explode with fruit. I don't personally care for the flavor, and would happily ship fruit to anyone that wants it!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 1:59PM
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that is a beautiful tree !
i think what you have is called "golden papaya"
ive grown lots of papaya in the past, but this is one i am not that familiar with.
i would love to trade seeds with you.
i have lots of stuff to trade.

it could be too much water
papaya need excellent drainage.
leaves will turn yellow and fruit will drop.
they get root-rot very easily also.
sometimes i cover the roots with plastic, about a 4x4 ft sheet, to keep them dry if it is raining a lot.
i plant them on a raised mound. this seems to help a LOT. the higher the better. but just 2-3 inches can make a big difference. try to make the mound as wide as possible

More than likely you have a "herm" tree.
they dont need a pollinator.
most seed these days, even from grocery store fruit is HERM... its easier for the growers to not have to worry about pollination.
it depends on the variety and seed source though.

They usually go from flower to fruit in 3-4 months, but it can be much longer over winter - depending on climate of course.
I am in New Orleans, and the ones that dont ripen before the first frost, usually stay on the tree until spring.

One year i had several fruit stay on the tree, and the flavor seemed not to be effected.
another year they dropped the fruit

and last year, it was abnormally cold
(several hard freezes below 30F)
and killed all my outdoor trees.

i have had fruit ripen in January once, after a spell of 4-5 very warm days. they tasted fine.

fruit will drop after they STOP growing.
normally they will ripen first, but, if something happens to the tree to make the fruit stop growing, they usually drop in a few days.
this is most fruit, not just papaya.

If a green fruit drops, or, if you want to force it to ripen,, you can stab several small holes in the fruit.
you want to sap to leak out as much as possible.
it should ripen a few days after that.
it will turn color and feel soft.

i leave mine on as long as possible, untill they are mostly yellow, with a tad bit of orange.
they seem to taste better that way.
mostly orange is even better, but then you run the risk of spots starting to rot.

you can cover the fruit with a plastic/paper bag, or even chicken wire around the lower part of the fruit bunch to deter squirrels and birds.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 6:29AM
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It's definitely not a "golden Papaya" if that is some sort of Carica cultivar. It is definitely a Vasconcellea (mountain Papaya), presumably a hybrid. The fact that it looks that good in SF in March (and probably the fact that it is alive at all) alone confirms the genus.

As far as seeds, you are welcome to some. However timing is unclear. I have no idea when fruit will ripen. The one fruit I opened from my friend's tree had only 5 large seeds. I will likely be reluctant to strip all the young fruits off... If my seedling turns out to be a hermaphrodyte like its mother/father then it can become my designated seed plant. However, that seedling is only 4 months old.

The other consideration is that the fact that this is a mountain Papaya means that it will likely be extremely difficult or impossible in your climate. It's conceivable that if it's Vasconcellea pubescens x "Y" and "Y" is a Vasconcellea from lower elevation, then it could be OK. However, this plant's performance in San Francisco, particularly right after a freeze, suggests otherwise. The climate in New Orleans is much more like that of the lower elevations of the tropics than it is at 6000-10,000 ft in the Andes, except for Winter. San Francisco is much like the highland (sub)tropics in the Andes--all year.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 3:13AM
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