Leaving small papaya fruits during winter?

marin2003(z9)October 9, 2005


Please, I need an advice. I have a 1-meter (4 feet) tall papaya planted in my garden. Its doing great and starts to produce small flowers. By the way its about 4 months old. However, where I live, it will stop growing in lets say two months tops. So I'm pretty sure it will have few small fruits by the time I cover it and protect it for winter break. Should I remove small fruits, to retain the plant as strong as possible and hope for real fruits next summer, or leave them be? I would say the chances for the plant to survive here are 60 to 40. We have 30 degrees for couple of mornings almost every winter.



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minibim(FL z10)

I assume you have a solo variety? If it were me, I would leave the fruits. At 4 feet, you could toss a blanket over it if you think you are going to have freezing temps for a night.

The other factor is your overall environment. If your days stay plenty hot and you do get a sudden cold front, exactly how long would you have below freezing temps? You might only stay below freezing for 2-3 hours and hopefully the papaya can survive that. If it's planted close to the house, the house will also retain enough heat for a short term basis to protect it.

In a zone 9 type of environment, use your house, a wall, tree canopy etc., when possible, to give your borderline plants some extra winter protection.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 7:39PM
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Yes it is solo. The problem is I cant be near my papaya every day during winter so I put a cover in late november and remove it in late march next year. Some mulching and soil around stem to protect lower 2 feet from freezing and plastic cover to protect the plant from rain. Over the top just net cover to protect from heavy winds and frost. To be honest chances to survive with more or less intact top are very small. But I hope the lower part will survive and continue to grow strongly in spring. We get some frost 2-3 mornings for couple of hours, average. Some winters none, last winter snow and temperatures at 32 for two whole days.

Thanx for advice!


    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 8:41AM
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meilie(z7 MD)

How about erecting a mini greenhouse using pvc pipes w/ elbows and greenhouse film? Anchor the bottom film w/ bricks and this should keep it toasty. I've manage to grow cold crops in zone 7A and harvest in January with this method. This year I'm keeping my 7 ft. papaya in the basement (2nd year) and it has fruit, so I'm hoping it'll be happy. I don't know what I'd do in zone 9, probably tent over the whole yard and grow mango trees!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 5:43PM
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Yes, I tried that last season, covering whole plant with greenhouse plastic. Unfortunately, I left open about 1/2 foot at the bottom , cause I wanted the plant to have some fresh air and at the same time I ran out of plastic. That whole at the bottom was way too much, the plant looked rather ok till february frost and snow..It died.. This year I'll be more concentrated on keeping alive lower part of the plant with roots. I just wasnt sure about keeping small fruits on. My guess is papaya will have more of growing and strenghtening and making leaves instead of making fruits larger.

Thank you.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 6:00AM
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treefrog_fl(z10 FL)

Could you start some seeds now and keep the young plants warm and happy all winter? In a mini-greenhouse or inside when it's cold?
Then plant them outside when the weather warms.
That way they would have a headstart next spring.
If papayas are in fertile soil and are well fertilized and watered, they should produce a good crop in one growing season.

I had a volunteer sprout last fall in the garden.
Luckily we had no frost last winter.
Now it is loaded with fruits that are beginning to ripen.
I ate one last week. Very good!

Wishing you success with your tree!


    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 1:08AM
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Just to summerize my ideas regarding papaya, its fruit and winter protection. Yes, treefrog I could do that. But from my experience I should be more concetrated on keeping growing one alive. I can always start a new plant inside in winter.
Bottom line is - I am not going to cover it from above. One thing ,its not so easy because of the location, and I did it with bad luck last year. As I said I cant check my papaya every day but once a week, even rarely as twice a month.
There is one thing to do that will probably save the plant in winter. Covering lower 2 feet of stem with soil and plastic to prevent watering and then cutting the stem at that point. With no upper part and many leaves it probably will not freeze. If frost happenes with lot of leaf mass it might kill entire plant to the bottom. I heard this from experienced ones.
Well I have a month or two to re-think. But if I'm pretty sure that leaves and top won't survive, cutting it at halfpoint is not a bad idea. That way plant should continue to grow strongly in spring with maybe more then one upper stem.

Once again, thanks for opinions everybody!


    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 5:09PM
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So I should cut the giant papaya half way down if there is going to be a freeze>>>? Should I mound the remaining trunk with leaf bags full of oak leaves for warmth? Does anyone know if the papaya trunk is layered like the trunk of a banana??

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 9:58PM
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tony_la(21 Sunset ZN)

I would leave the fruit on as it has been my experience that it will ripen during the spring. I do not think removing the fruit will increase or decrease the chance of surivival (temps and moisture will).

Victoria, papayas are not like bananas (not layered). I would protect the lower sections, but would not cut it down to size, as the cut can prove to be a entry way for water/rot. I have let the tops of papaya take the frost and protect the lower half from damage.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   December 1, 2005 at 5:25PM
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Aloha! We do not have the same frost problems here in Maui, but some advice if you do decide to top the plant - here we put a large sized tin can over the cut trunk to keep the water out. Myself, I use a shower cap. The trunk will branch with the top taken off which is so much easier for harvesting. Perhaps it would be easier for you to have it lower so you are better able to protect it during cold weather? Best of luck, Jenny

    Bookmark   December 2, 2005 at 3:29PM
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