Germinating papaya seeds

coff62(z8WA)December 18, 2005

My wife is eating papaya, I want to germinate the seeds. What advice can you give? What type of soil? Heat and light requirements? Also do I keep the seeds moist and cool until I plant them?


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I have found the best way to germinate papaya seeds is to remove the arils surrounding the seeds, rinse them under warm water to remove the juice from the arils and soak them overnight in warm water. Discard any seeds that are floating after the soak.

Plant them in a soilless mix (do not cover them very deeply) and keep them in a warm (80 degrees F or so) area until they sprout. Don't keep them too damp or they are likely to suffer from damping off. I have actually started using seed starting plugs to germinate the seeds. With these there is a small hole in the center of the plug and seed is inserted into the hole and not really even covered.

The 2 biggest factors seem to be lots of warmth at sprouting time and never allowing them to stay damp. Even when they are monsterous trees they will develop root rot very quickly if allowed to have wet feet.

One other word on seeds from store bought papayas. If the fruit came out of Hawaii it probably was irradiated to kill any pest on the fruit surface. If that is the case the seeds will probably not sprout. I have never had any luck with seeds from the papayas from Hawaii for that reason. The fruit from Mexico, Belize and other locations in the Caribbean do not have this problem.

A great source for seeds (if you are interested) is Alhoa Seed Company in Hawaii. Their seeds are of very good quality and they offer some nice varieties.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aloha Seed

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 9:42AM
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In case this wasn't clear, the aril is the semi-mucoid goop that surrounds each seed. If you squeeze one end just right, the bare seed will shoot out, ready for planting. You can also do this to shoot seeds at unsuspecting people nearby.

1 Like    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 8:28PM
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Eric-Thanks for clearing that up. I also like your method for shooting seeds. I picked a papaya this afternoon from the greenhouse and will give it a try in the morning.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 8:57PM
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honu(z11 HI)

GAtrops has good advice on germination technique. Keep in mind they can take as long as month to sprout. I didn't know it took that long, and thinking my germination had failed (I simply buried a bunch of seeds after eating a sweet papaya from a local farmer's market), I dug into the planting hole after a couple weeks, and saw a whole bunch of long tap roots forming, so quickly reburied them. A year later they are trees taller than me and bearing fruit.
I agree w/ GAtrops that it's best to germinate seeds from a reputable seed company, rather than from store bought fruit. The University of Hawaii is another source for buying papaya seed (see link below).
Store bought fruit are probably hybrid anyway, so your best guarantee of good fruit is with purchased seed.
However, I have grown trees from fruits sold at the farmer's market, and I know others who have good trees that sprouted from bird droppings, but you are taking your chances when you grow this way (my fruit was sweet, but not as good as the parent).
Since it's best to have only hermaphrodite trees, as they will self pollinate and be most productive, it's recommended you plant several trees at the same time, let them grow till they flower to identify which are the hermaphrodites, and chop down any male (will have very skinny flowers, and will not fruit) and female trees (very fat rounded flowers, and needs pollination from a male to fruit).
Also, an interesting thing I learned from the University of Hawaii seed program folks is that papayas in Hawaiian supermarkets are most likely GMO to tolerate ring spot virus, a problem that hit the papaya industry hard here. However, I understand GMOs are not allowed to be shipped out of state.

Here is a link that might be useful: U of Hawaii seed program

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 8:42PM
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These are very reliable seeds to germinate. I eat the fruit, sometimes scrub off the goo, sometimes not, let them dry a couple of days in the sun, put 1 drop of bleach into 12 oz of water and soak 24hrs. Pull out the floaters and soak again, put the sinkers spread out in a paper towel, wet with the soaking water, put in ziplock, place in a warm place. In a week or 2, they'll start sprouting. Transplant into the ground or sm pots. They do not like to be transplanted, so do it as little as possible. I usually watch them closely, and when the seeds crack, I plant them or pot them 2 or 3 in the same hole or pot. I've got many, many sm pots going right now, choose the strongest of the bunch for the ground: Wilamano, Hawian Solo Sunset, Caribbean Red, and Red Lady Solo. I can't wait until spring:)

    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 9:52PM
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Gardener972(7b-8a DFW)

I just dried them for a couple weeks, stuck them in the dirt and they all came up easily and they don't seem to be picky either. We have poor, alkaline dirt here.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 5:36PM
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super thread with all the info i hoped for. i have a bunch of fresh seeds to try out. i am experimenting with aeroponics with yacon, jerusalem artichokes and now papaya.
If it works I will make the results available.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 7:50PM
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I did find them easy, though I'd add that keeping them long term seemed near impossible as houseplants for me, but if experimenting with very inexpensive seeds, which are at hand is the goal , they are fun and unusual! I just noticed a very old dried up kiwi in the frige and was much tempted to try those seeds, though they're very old, and still in the fruit! Oh well, but I have space problems as it is and out it went into the rrash!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 8:32AM
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I have also found it very easy to sprout papaya seeds straight from a fresh papaya--just using a light rinse (with the aril on) in a very dilute soap solution (with the idea to prevent mold taking over in the soil), and then can put them by the masses into a pot and they practically all germinate after a month. I am wondering if someone has some pointers for after that point, because each time after sprouting 50-100 seeds in a batch, I have run into the same problem later of the seedlings reaching a couple inches in height just when they are starting to make their secondary leaves, then they suddenly stop growing, and all the leaves quickly dry out and crumble off the plant. I'm sure that getting enough water (and not too much) is not the issue, but I'm wondering if I just need to have them in a different sort of environment in terms of humidity/sunlight or such, as I am growing them indoors at a very sunny window, somewhere far outside their natural climate region of growing! Perhaps they do better in a greenhouse environment? If someone has pointers on what the seedlings like to stay growing strong, I'm so eager to see some of these favorite 'trees' of mine grow up! Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 11:23AM
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There's a new book out called "Grow your own garden at no cost from store bought produce" that seems to be very helpful.

I just graudated from college last may and my friend recently go me interested in gardening. Since I don't have much money right now with college loans, I got this book. It is very helpful, the author organized the book in such a way that is so quick to get the information you need and get started right away. Currently I'm trying to grow an avocado, tomato and parsley. Best luck to you and hopefully I can report soon on how my first attempt goes.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 3:52PM
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steiconi(12a-Big Island, HI)

there's another good book--I think it's out of print so look for it used--"The After-Dinner Gardener" tells you how to sprout a variety of seeds from edible plants. I don't have the book any more, but I remember he covered papayas and mangoes (and following his directions, I wound up with a mango tree!) and he talked about kiwi fruit, but I don't think he had any luck with them.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 4:32AM
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I recently purchased a Brazilian papaya fruit.
Summer experiment with the kids :)

We divided the seeds into 4 different test groups.

1 - seed cover removed, put in peat moss
2 - seed cover removed, soaked 24 hours & put in peat moss
3 - rinsed in warm water & planted seed(w/aril)in peat moss
4 - prepped like rsiemenski as posted on 12/27/2005

Will post results as they happen! :) ~Cheryl

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 2:10PM
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old thread, but this is not a common topic and I have a relevant question. Has anyone had issues with seedlings?

I get seeds to germinate, but the seedlings get only 2-3 inches tall, stop growing, shrivel and die. It is exactly as described in a post here (several prior) by flycer. In my case, I have them in a controlled environment with a grow light. Potting soil is similar to my Citrus which also doesnt like to be wet (using CHC). Temps are between 60 and 70, though it is possible I let it slip lower for a week.

Any tips would be much appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 5:25AM
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From what you say I think your problems is water. Papaya dont like to be watered at the base. An effecive method is building a mound in the ground with two trenches at the sides. Water the top of the mound where the seeds are planted until they germinate. Then around once a week flood each trench.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 9:39PM
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Papaya seedlings are no problem. I threw a bunch of seeds in a corner of my garden, after removing the aril(fluid bubble)and rinsed and allowed to dry on a paper towel.So now I have about 50 small plants growing in a cluster in the corner of my small garden. And I also planted a bunch in a cleaned rinsed plastic soda bottle, cut the bottle in half and made holes on the bottom for drainage for(green house). And I also planted 8 around the foundation. This years hot temps., have made the leaves dry out. I covered them with a nursery pots. Watered daily and now they are growing beautifully.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 3:42PM
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OK, here is a puzzle. I planted about 20+ seedlings, the seed came from a papaya from a bisexual tree so I should have a lot of bisexal seedlings growing. Now that they are about 3 feet tall and showing their buds I have so far identified about 10 of the 20 or so seedlings as MALE. This should be impossible, I have grown papaya in the past 5 years and NEVER had this type of bad luck before. Does anyone have any explantation for this? I have maybe 10 seedlings left that have not identified their sex as of yet but am not expecting to see any trend away from this situation which I believe is some sort of phenomonon. I should have about a 50/50 ratio of female to bisexual and almost zero males from these seeds.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 6:04PM
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JeffDM(San Diego - 10)

Last week I bought a selection of papaya seeds for Aloha Seed & Herb. I planted some in biodegradable seedling cups and after only 7 days they have started sprouting.
I think I'll put these in large containers and start another batch for planting in the ground.
It's all a big experiment for now.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 9:17PM
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They're very easy to grow, but they don't like to be too wet/soggy, especially cold wet/soggy. And they like a higher pH than most other plants.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 5:52PM
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JeffDM(San Diego - 10)

They appear to germinate easily and seeds of known variety were quite inexpensive from Aloha Seed. I did a PayPal transaction for the seeds and received them in the mail two days later.
This means I can do quite a bit of experimentation with quality seeds for not much money

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 5:45PM
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Transgenic papayas now cover about three quarters of the total Hawaiian papaya crop. In my effort to consume GMO free nutrition I stay away from Hawaiian varieties, unless they are USDA certified organic.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 5:06PM
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just some tips...
they LOVe sun, lots of it.
they hate their feet being wet/soggy for more than a few hours
they REALLY hate wet feet if its under 50 degrees

that said, as long as it doesnt freeze and they dry out/warm up in a couple of days they come back.

roots are VERY fragile, if you need to transplant, try to transplant the whole rootball without interfering with the roots
OR... wet the roots 15 mins ahead of time, still, be delicate with roots...
they love fish emulsion and coffee grounds, fast draining soil

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 6:45PM
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My first tree came from bird droppings. When it first sprouted in my garden I almost dug it out. I left it because of the odd leaves. On a trip thru a greenhouse at EPCOT I saw mature trees and was thankful I let it live. The fruit was very sweet. I cut it down when I couldn't reach the fruit with a 20' ladder. I planted seeds in garden from the fruit. I have 4- 3' trees. Hope the fruit is as sweet.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 8:41PM
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