Papaya tricks

greenman62June 13, 2013

I have been going nuts with Papaya.
I love these things, so when i buy one to eat, i plant the seeds.
and the have a LOT of seeds in each fruit.
So, now i have LOTS of seedlings.

I found that they grow faster in BLACK containers. The black soaks up the heat, which they LOVE.
I also found something interesting on the soil.
It sees they really like my local soil which is a very very fine sand, with a small amount of silt and organic matter.
For some reason they grow better in that soil, than in any potting mix i tried.
(as seedlings, my big trees like a lot of organics)

Old coffee grounds attract worms like crazy i found, and worms help condition the soil and add nutrients.
I get them free from Starbuicks.
I use the grounds in my compost pile, but i also add some to the topsoil, just spreading near the tree.

The do not like being transplanted, but if you do, try to plant the whole root ball, disturbing the roots as little as possible.

Its much better if the roots are wet, EXCEPT, sometimes they have lots of very fine roots which will get twisted up, and lay flat when the soil washes away.
I found some will have very fine roots, and some will develop a long taproot and 2-3 smaller, but still sturdy of-shoots.
These will transplant much easier, especially since you can wet them as soon as they are dug up.
If they look like they have very fine roots, dont wet them, just plant the whole root-ball.

Also, they respond well to foliar spray.
I put epsom salt in a sprayer.
When the leaves are yellow, the plant is about to drop the leaf (this is normal, leaves drop after a few months)
Before they drop, the plant pulls nutrients back out the leaf, so this is a good time to spray with a foliar sprayer.

This post was edited by greenman62 on Thu, Jun 13, 13 at 8:12

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They look great! what zone are you in?


    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 1:49PM
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outside of New Orleans.
The US zone chart has me in 9a, but i found a Louisiana map that shows i am in 8b
The weather we have had is milder than that, i would say it was 9b weather.
9b isnt far away either.
This winter was fairly mild and it killed a couple of smaller ones. i had several that made it though.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 10:13AM
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soaht(Central CA 9B)

Hi Brad,
Wow, your papaya looks great. You know what kind are they? It's ok if you don't know for sure, since you said yours are from store bought ones. If I'd have known you have papaya seedlings, we could have just traded, but it's my fault for not asking you first what you might have, when you asked about that issue in the email. How long did it take from seeds to first fruiting? Are they also hermaphrodite or you needed male and female? How have the mamey seedling been doing since you transplanted it into a new pot?


    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 6:57PM
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Hi Seng
no problem, we may trade in the future.

I am pretty sure Red Lady is a type of Maradol.
I have several of these, but i bought some sunrise and sunset seeds from Aloha. Waiting for those to get bigger.
(i actually would not buy from them again)

As far as gender, i dont thingk i have ANY male plants, and i have 6 mature plants.
Males are really rare, and i heard you can just drive a nail in the trunk, or top the tree to make it turn either female or Herm.

In theory hermaphrodite papayas that have been fertlized by a male have seeds producing 1/3m,1/3f,1/3h.
If the hermaphrodite papaya was fertilized by another hermaphrodite seed should produce 1/3f,2/3h.
If a female papaya is fertilized by a hermaphrodite seeds should produce 1/2f,1/2h.

i think the growers kill all the male plants, so they have become pretty rare, at least in this variety.

The Mamey looks very good, its already taking full sun, and we have a LOT of that here...

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 9:41AM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

NIce work Greenman!

They do look quite healthy. Do you cover them in the winter? How low can the temp. get?

I've got a number of them mysefl, but they don't seem to
be fruiting very low to the ground. I've got a couple 5 footers that are still only vegetative.

Any hints as to how to get them flowering/fruiting????

Mr. MangoWoofie

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 1:23PM
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soaht(Central CA 9B)

The mamey was growing in full sun, when I sprouted it, so taking full sun now wouldn't be a problem. 2 1/2 weeks ago when it's was 109F, over here, it didn't even flinch or wilted. Except two of the bottom leaves have some burnt brown edges. My mango on the other hand, definitely showed sun burned leaves on some of the top leaves. I also have some guava seedling out and they too seem pretty sun burned resistant in extreme heat. Is your guava like that too?


    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 2:12PM
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Mr. Mango
I think adding Phosphorous will get them to flower/fruit, if everything else is OK with them.
They need a lot of Nitrogen when they are growing, but you should hold back on the N when you want them to fruit.

i just cross my fingers with the larger ones in the winter
the smaller ones i take inside.
they still dont grow though, even if my house is 72 degrees.
i used a portable $20 heater for the 2 - 5 footers i had against the house in big pots.

ANY cold slows the growth, but they get very unhappy if its under about 40-45 for the big ones and 45-50 or so for the smaller ones.
It also makes a lot of difference if their feet are wet at the cold temps. Keep them as dry as possible when its cool...

It was 94 here yesterday and they are eating it up.
I even use black containers and pieces of black rubber near the base to add heat.

If you have the "red lady" (is a type of Maradol) like me
- from wallmart fruit...
they dont fruit until about 6ft.
if you have a lot of sun, they should start flowering a bit before,maybe 5ft or so.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 4:46PM
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Hi Seng,
Yes the Mamey looks happy. its taking full sun here well...

I had some red and yellow leaves on the Guava in the spring, and i read a post here with someone saying it was sunburn, i was worried cos its planted in full sun.
Now worries now.
its taking full sun quite well. It flowered and has hundreds of small fruits !!!
i planted it last spring at 4ft tall. Its 6ft now at least, and growing fast.
Not sure what the problem was with the red and yellow leaves, but its showing NO sign of sunburn now.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 4:53PM
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soaht(Central CA 9B)

If the leaves are reddish or yellow in spring, most likely just the weather changing causing it. In cooler months they tend to turn a shade of red, then when it gets warmer, the leaves will become green again. When my plants suffer from sun burn, they usually turn a yellowish brown before turning a dry brown.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:36AM
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    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 5:09PM
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soaht(Central CA 9B)

Looks like you have more flowers and little fruitlets developing on top. How long does it take for fruit to ripen from flower time till they have some colors?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 7:59PM
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shaneatwell(sunset 23)

We tried growing papaya from seed numerous times unsuccessfully. Finally i stuck 20 seeds (mexican) in our clay soil amended with manure and watered regularly. Nothing. Gave up and planted kangaroo paw nearby and mulched. Some time later 10 seedlings pop up!

Anyway we have thinned down to the strongest four and will keep a male and female from those. Theyre about 8" tall right now.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 9:41PM
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I just planted my red lady last June 2014 in three months started getting fruit. Have been feeding it peelings from my fruit smoothies that I make plus coffee grinds and crushed egg shells. Have a well for irrigation that I water with too.
Taken time to ripen but do use them green for cooking. They are a great fruit tree to have.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2014 at 12:51AM
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you got fruit in 3 months...
you bought a tree ?

planting from seed normally takes 9-12 months best case...

of course, anyone who gets freezing temps knows they will probably loose the fruit during winter.

personally, i dont like them green, so , i am always fighting to get ripe fruit because winter usually kills them, or they drop fruit, and i have to start over in spring.
then it takes 6 months from flower to fruit.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2014 at 12:43PM
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Greenman - where do you live? If you told us I've since forgotten! I live in the SoCal desert and we get close to freezing if not a little nipped a couple times each winter...


    Bookmark   November 23, 2014 at 11:02PM
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i am in New Orleans
It got down to 25F 3 different times last winter.
This year, already one day hit 27F

I hope this is not a trend.
it doesnt always freeze here in the winter.
2011-12 and 12-13 did not have a hard freeze
and my papaya made it through
a bit battered looking, but they came back.
Last year was abnormally cold
and it killed about 8 adult papaya trees.
I was able to keep a few in containers
but it doesnt really help that much
since papaya grow so fast from seed
and transplanting them will stress them and slow them down.

Putting my plants near the hous,, South facing wall
with a evergreen on each side of it,, and 2ft of mulch makes a huge difference.

Even though it hit 27F for a short time
that tree has very little leaf loss,
and kept all its fruit.
I just hope it doesnt get any worse this year
But... Its not even December yet
fingers crossed...

    Bookmark   November 25, 2014 at 5:27PM
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Papaya dont really like clay soil
and manure as an amendment isnt really the best pick
neither has good drainage which papaya need desperately.

i have 1 spot in my yard that is 90% sand
they grew faster and stronger in that soil, than in any other area in my yard.
(the other 10% was about 1/2 made of old coffee grounds, and 1/2 silt - naturally occurring in the soil)

they LOVE coffee grounds, especially if composted, aged, or, sun-dried.

LOOSE soil with large particle size, like coarse sand, seems to be the optimal medium to grow them.

for container medium, i had great results with the following...

%30 perlite
%30 coarse sand
%30 aged (or composted) coffee grounds
%5 pine bark fines

also good...

%25 coarse sand
%25 fine sand
%25 compost
%25 potting soil

cactus potting soil, pumice, and coir should work well,
but i have never used them.

The best place to grow papaya is on a slight slope so it drains rapidly. Or, build a mound.
good drainage is essential.

best organic material...

worm castings
chicken manure (well composted)
fish emulsion
coffee grounds

about Peat Moss...
papaya like peat moss, but only in small quantities. it holds water, but can help cause root-rot if you use too much
%10 tops

adding fish heads is great if you put it about 1ft under the seedling, so the roots can grow into it later.

chemical fertilizers do work, but will build up salt around the roots.
Papaya are more susceptible to this than other plants.
IMO, this is the reason people re-plant after 3 to 4 years.
(also, the heavy fruit means wind is an issue)
the fruit tastes just as good on an older tree, and it will continue to fruit if the roots have organic matter.

rain water is best. papaya dont like chlorine, it can build up on the roots over time.
they grow in a wide PH range, but i find slight acid is best.


flower to fruit is usually about 4-5 months if i remember right.
from seed to first flower is about the same
so, 8 to 10 months minimum from seed to harvesting fruit is best-case scenario

ive never seen the leaves go from yellow back to green
perhaps thats because mine always loose all the leaves every winter, or, it could be the variety
ive also never seen actual red leaves on a papaya...
do you have pics of red leaves ?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2014 at 6:49AM
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