If you love to grow easy fruit trees, papaya trees are a great option. The Papaya tree is easy to grow from seeds and it is low maintenance and productive.
Papaya trees look like normal trees, but they are perennial herbs with hollow trunks. These branchless plants grow to 6 to 9 metres tall with 30 centimetres to 1.5 centimetres long leaves growing directly from the trunk.
They need warm weather, sunlight, water and good soil to grow successfully. When you have all of these conditions, you can grow papaya trees from seeds and generally have fruits in 6 to 12 months.
You must know this if you are growing papayas. They come in three sexes: Males, female and bisexual (hermaphrodite).
You will need male and female papaya trees. Male papaya trees don’t produce fruits, but they are required for female papaya trees for pollination. Bisexual papaya trees don’t require male trees for pollination because they are self-pollinating.
Generally, one papaya male tree is necessary to pollinate ten papaya female trees.
Until it starts to flower, you can determine the gender of the papaya.
- Male Papayas: Do not fruit. Panicles of flowers are small, sometimes are linked together in short or long panicles.
- Female Papayas: Flowers are large. You can see behind every flower an immature fruit. Once it is pollinated, the fruit is usually large and round with very few seeds.
- Bisexual: Have both male and female flowers. On male flowers, the panicles are always short. In female flowers, you will find an immature fruit behind.
The fruit is usually smaller than pure female. The shape and color of the fruit depends on the variety.
- Consider that early flowers may be primarily male flowers.
If you buy papaya seeds from a quality source, such as Soon Huat Seeds, you know what you are buying. Most of the varieties are either bisexual or female.
So if you want to grow papayas from seeds, the best choice is to buy them instead of obtaining them directly from the fruit.
Maintenance of Papaya Trees
The most important thing when it comes to taking care of the papaya trees is to grow them in warm conditions in the full sun.
To help retain moisture, which is essential, you need to mulch papaya trees with organic matter.
Papaya trees are hungry and they need food. You have to add plenty of compost near the base of your plant.
The best combination is three-part of compost mix with two parts of red sandy soil and one part of fertilizer.
It is recommended to fertilize after 7 days with 100 grams; 14 days after sowing with 50 grams.
Papaya trees do not require pruning. But you should thin out sick old plants and remove weeds.
Remove weeds regularly to ensure healthy plant growth.
Pests and Diseases
The most common pests are:
- Fruit flies
- Black vine weevil
The most common diseases are:
- Soil fungi
- Powdery mildew
- Fruit rot
- Papaya ringspot virus
After 250 days, it is time to harvest. The height of harvested fruits is up to 31 centimetres.
The fruit must be separated from the tree carefully using plastic gloves or something similar because it is sensitive to sunburn. To harvest, you can use a short knife or you can lightly twist it, don’t forget to leave a 0.5-centimetre stalk.
Here is a quick guide on maturity indices:
- 0% Ripe: The fruit is completely green, but it is well developed.
- 10-15% Ripe: The fruit started to change colour, and it appears one or two yellow stripes. It is a 10-15% yellow surface shell with a bright green color around.
- 25% Ripe: Now the shell surface is 25% yellow surrounded by the bright green color.
- 75% Ripe: It has a 75% yellow surface.
- 76-100% Ripe: The fruit has the surface of the shell yellow to orange color.
Remember the maturation of the papaya fruit continues without stop even after being cut.
The best time to harvest your papaya fruits is in the early hours of the day and they must not be exposed to the sun.