Papaya 101 "My Experiences"

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

For my fellow Texan, Texasgal77

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)




This a a papaya from my tree FEB 2006-
I however started off with purchasing a papaya the store.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Cut Papaya
Cut Papaya in half - length ways.
Usually a ripe papaya will not have much green on the skin. I only have experience with this variety which is a Central American variety and a hermaphrodite. Papaya's are usually male and female with some varieties having the ability to morph their sex to the what is needed- ie too many males - some will turn to females- while others like this Central American variety is both sexes- I have had as many as 10 trees in the yard and all of them bore fruit. So my first pick in the Papaya realm was a lucky one.

This message was edited Sep 27, 2007 8:14 PM

This message was edited Sep 27, 2007 8:15 PM

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Remove seeds
Seeds are usually pulpy. Take a small spoon that fits in the cavity and scrape the seeds out on to a paper towel. I usually use a paper plate lined with a couple of paper towels. You can also put the seeds in a strainer and wash off the pulpy stuff. I figured mother nature has the pulpy stuff around to help her seeds out- so I leave them on. Put the paper plate in a high dry place- in my house that is above the cupboards in the kitchen.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Picture of dried seeds
This is what the seeds will look like dried. They loose about 1/4 of their mass. The seeds should be hard at this stage. Time for drying varies- About a week to two weeks. Try to remove as much of the organic material from the papaya- this may slow drying and attract unwanted critters.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Picture of Papaya fruit, fresh and dried seeds
This is a picture of the Papaya fruit, fresh seeds and dried seeds.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Planting
I've always waited until around may to plant them when it's very hot- But this year I've learned about H202, seed mats..and a whole new world of propagating seeds. I will say- that I was rather surprised by the high propagation rate. It was a good thing because there was a road of trial and error to be traveled.. I leave the seeds in the pot until they reach about 8 inches. The less repotting- the better. They are much easier repotting younger than older. They do not like their roots messed with. As a rule of thumb- l let the papayas get root bound.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Re-potting
I usually will pot the plants in an 8 inch nursery container with large holes. Good drainage is imperative- This variety of Papayas are not forgiving when they have "wet feet". I treat Papayas like an anual. I start my crop for next year this season. If the winter is bad - I have my new trees in the green house to replace them. The growth rate is extremely rapid! Overwintering I leave the Papaya trees in the 8 inch container root bound- where they stay in stasis. When stored in the green house - I do not water them hardly at all. I will mist them. The Papayas are about 4 feet tall at this stage- and remain root bound. This gives them the good drainage advantage.
I have a rule of thumb - not to repot the papaya more than 3 times before going into the selected location. Keeping them in pots gives you the advantage of climate control ..you can move them out of the rain etc. I will upsize and repot for the last time into a 20 inch or so pot. The tree will start growing rapidly again. Papayas like to be in the ground. I was successful in growing 1 that bore fruit in a large pot- but as a rule of thumb- after about 5-6 feet they do not fare well.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Fertilizing your Papaya
I killed alot of trees trying fertilizers on them. I scoured the web, but it was mainly for industry and not helpful at the time. I had thrown in the towel - listing them as not liking any fertilzer - Until last summer I discovered thru DG thread - about Hibiscus Fertizer. We were discussing this in the Brug forum, and the place that sells it is here in Houston- So I bought some...and I did try it on the Papayas..At last ..they really responded to the fertilzer which is 18-8-28 combination specifically for Hibiscus. The Papayas really love it. As a matter of fact I use it on most of my tropicals now. This picture is a picture of the left papaya tree fertilzed with the 18-8-28 and the right...well not! See if you notice a difference. the pots are varied- which must be taken into account- still, it must be the perfect blend for the papayas.
This product is made by Houston Fertilizer, and can only be found there.
http://yardgeek.com/

This message was edited Sep 27, 2007 8:03 PM

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Finding a location
This unknown strain seems to prefer a part sun very well drained location. I would say these Papayas prefer to be dry by the end of the day. Once you've chosen a good location..the tree will really take off.
I have tried these trees in full sun, and they do not do well. These trees like a good half day full sun, the rest shaded. It doesn't seem to matter to them whether it's afternoon or morning half of the sun. It seems that the largest trees I have get morning sun, midday shade, afternoon sun.
This tree is 3 months old

This message was edited Sep 27, 2007 8:05 PM

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Fruit
Usually the tree will start flowering and turning into small Papayas. As I mentioned this strain all bore fruit. Fruit usually remains on the tree over winter ripening in late winter early spring. If it is a warm winter the fruit may mature in early fall late winter.
The tree pictured was planted in august at 4 feet tall. It is now about 11 feet, you can see it was growing so fast that longer spaces appear from the bottom fruits to the top. This was an "overwintered" tree which I will explain for Sub-Tropical or Non Tropical areas.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

The tree will bloom it's first year provided the conditions are right. 2007 was a bit of a wet year for Papaya trees, never the less, if the location is WELL DRAINED, it will thrive.

Picture of blooms

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

As soon as the blooms close, you will notice that the fruit begins to form.

Keep in mind, this is only 1 type of Papaya out of many strains. I pretty much hit the lottery in buying this particular type from the grocery store and it being a hermaphradite, neither female or male. Judging by the length of the leaves, I'd say this is a type from Central America. I've seen these in Costa Rica, liking similar sun exposure.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

More blooms/fruit

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Sub Tropical or Non Tropical Locations.

Face it: It's going to freeze, and if you want Papayas, the best thing to do is plant alot and treat them like annuals. Start a fresh crop every year, set aside a good 10 to 20 that you will over winter. If the planted trees survive then it's a bonus!
I started seedlings this year that will overwinter 2 winters before I plant them in the ground. I did start this ritual with only 1 over winter which works just fine.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

The advantage of overwintering 2 winters is maturity and growth control. This is what the trees look like that I will over winter this year. They were overwintered in the green house last year. If this winter kills any of the papayas I have that are mature, these trees will be planted in early spring and be huge by the end of next summer, and bearing fruit.

Again, this also works over one winter, and the trees will grow very fast as well.

I've saved the seeds from that one papaya 5 years ago and have had hundereds of Paypaya and Papaya trees all from that one fruit. The key is to treat them like annuals. Papaya tree life span is not usually very long perhaps 5 or 6 years on average. There are always exceptions of course.

If there is one piece of advice I had to select above all others...it's water. If there is a side to error on, then let it be the dry side, other wise they will rot right down to the ground while you helplessly watch.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Growing in Pots.

Papaya are great looking in pots, but if you expect fruit, you will be disappointed. Again, I was lucky in my first dabbles to actually get one to grow fruit, which turned out to be lucky as it was the last tree to grow fruit after all my experimenting the first year I tried all of this.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

This year we actually got a hard freeze the day before Spring started, and the first freeze since I've lived in this house over 8 years. It was death and mayhem..but you know..this tree came back, and actually grew 2 tops...with papayas growing as we speak.

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

This is how I prefere them to look.
Notice how long the leaves are on this type of Papaya. You will notice a difference if you've been to Hawaii in the size and shape of tree trunks and leaves. I have since started some Hawaiin Papayas, the leaf stems are much shorter and the leaves very much broader then the ones in these pictures.

I took this data from my diary that was over a couple of years, so some of the comments and captions my seem inconsistent, but I think it's enough to get started.

RJ

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

This was suppose to go with the caption above....!

Thumbnail by rjuddharrison
Kwajalein, Marshall Islands(Zone 11)

Said it before, and I'll say it again! Wow! Randy, thank you so much for sharing all this wonderful info! Outstanding!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Sure,
Thanks for letting me know about my new favorite forum....Tropical Gardening!

Kwajalein, Marshall Islands(Zone 11)

Yippee!!!! I knew you'd like it here!

Zolfo Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

I was so excited to find this forum. I am sure it was not meant just for me (ha) but i think it was as i am just now starting to try growing papayas. Great to learn about the hibiscus fertilizer. I used to live in Victoria,Tx south of Houston but I am back in FL now. The weather is much the same.

Thanks for all the wonderful info!!!!

Baytown, TX(Zone 9a)

Randy, Wow! Thank you so very much. It is sincerely appreciated! I have my seeds drying now. If I start them now, and overwinter them in the garage, would they be OK? Guess I should wait until spring. I have enough to overwinter as it is! I'm sure they would grow better their first few months in sunlight and fresh air!!

Again, thanks so much for all of the information!

This message was edited Sep 28, 2007 8:45 PM

Kwajalein, Marshall Islands(Zone 11)

I LeePerk! Welcome to Tropical Gardening! We have a great time here....lots of friendly folks, great info, great fun. Our only problem is staying on topic....don't seem able to do that much, but we sure have a lot of fun trying!

Hillsborough , NC(Zone 7a)

Aloha and welcome! So glad you are both here on Tropical gardening!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

So Welcome,
It definately was a trick getting there...but after that they are surprisingly easy to grow

Wharton, TX(Zone 9a)

WOW... is all I can say. Your information is so precise and easy to follow Randy. I will be moving to Texas next Spring so this is very exciting.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Really? coool. Where in Texas are you moving to? It's great for gardening here...Although I must admit..I think this is the first year in many that I'm looking forward to cooler weather as I've sort of bitten off more than I can chew this year ...trying to keep up is nearly full time job, and I already have one of those!
Rj

TabacVille, NC(Zone 7a)

Applause!!
Wished I had known then how to grow them when I was living in Lafayette, La. Your pictures brought me back to South East Asia, where neighbours guard their papayas more than their "rambutans" and durians!!
IThank you very much being so generous with your growing tips.

Wharton, TX(Zone 9a)

I will be moving to the Houston area near my brother and his wife. I'm from Cape Cod Mass. but had to be in NC for the past year. I had a great cottage style garden which I loved and really miss. Some of my very favorite plants will not grow in Houston and I had to morn for them for awhile. Now I am ready to learn about and fall in love with some tropicals ........and papayas will surely be one of them.

Zolfo Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

thanks for the welcome all. I am fairly new to Daves gardening. I joined sometime back but have just now gotten enough time to enjoy it. I am still learning my way around. rj you did such a wonderful job with the papayas do you know anything about pomegranites? I am trying to grow them also.

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

We have 2 papayas growing at work and I forget what ones they are. lol. Just found out we had them today. One is fragrant and the other one isn't and has mountain in it's name. It grows outside year round in our heavy clay.

In this pic it is to the left. That one is the fragrant one. You can barely see it.

Thumbnail by pepper23
Wharton, TX(Zone 9a)

Pepper, Do the plants produce fruit?

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Here is a full view of that bed.

This a papaya? If so this is the non fragrant one.

Thumbnail by pepper23
KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

I think they do though I forgot to ask the woman who takes care of them.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

So your moving to Houston...!!! We'll have to meet up when you get settled. I have quite a few plants, and your welcome to come and see if there is anything you like to add to your new place. I'll have a papaya tree waiting for your arrival!
I know what you mean about cottage style. I really like cottage style..and I think we can achieve that in very early spring here, like feb thru apr


I must admit I haven't tried pomegranites. I've started some kumquoat trees...I don't even know how to spell them.

.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Those are cool leaves...very leathery looking.
I've not heard of fragrant Papaya trees... I think I forecast trying a whole variety of species in the future..that would be fun.

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

I will get more details from her this weekend. I will bug her and if she doesn't have enough info our Direc of hort is a walking encyclopedia and I can bug him. lol. I love bugging them about the plants there. I sometimes drive them nuts with my questions but I tell them I am also asking for other people. lol

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