birdsnbloomsJune 4, 2012

When I first 'adopted' a Papaya, 2010, I had many questions about its care.

I went to the Citrus Forum, but most only knew about Citrus. Someone suggested I try Fruit Tree 'think that's the name,' Forum.

Off I went to Fruit Trees w/questions. Everyone was polite, but like those in the Citrus Forum couldn't answer questions regarding growing Papaya in a container.

I then took matters in my own hands. Googled and Bing'd information, and was very very happy with the results until yesterday, June 3, 2012.

Papaya... 2010


Unfortunately, I didn't take any recent pics, but Papaya over-wintered well, the trunk was thickening, and leaves fairly compact.

Since the weather's warmed up, I started bringing plants outside, 'few at a time.'

On June 1st, out went my Papaya and Musa Ruby Siam. Because both are in tree pots, they tend to tip; windy days are awful, even w/pots lodged between other potted plants.

Anyway, yesterday I stepped outside. Both Papaya and Musa were lying upsidedown, worse, I didn't realize the damage until lifting them.

The Banana's top broke in half, but pups sprouted, so I'm hoping they'll grow as tall and healthy as mom, 'was.'

The Papaya is a different story; it hasn't any pups. The top, a 7-9" cracked and broke off. In fact, the top was lying a couple feet away from mom.

The top of the trunk, 'mom' looks terrible. Jagged points. In other words the top looks like a saw.

What should be done to save my Papaya? Should I cut the top of the trunk so it's straight or let be?

Also, can the top portion be rooted? If so, how?

I really want to save my Papaya. Please, if anyone has answers, let me know what should be done. Thanks, Toni

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Toni what does the root system look like?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 4:43PM
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Hi Rhizo. To be honest, I haven't seen the roots since the Papaya was repotted in the tree pot. 2010.

Tree pots stand about 18+" tall. Since roots haven't grown out of drainage holes, the soil has only been top-dressed.

Why are you asking? Thanks, Toni

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 4:58PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Awww, that sucks! You have my sympathies, empathies and hope! You know I've had a lot of instances of plants blowing off of my porch.

Sounds like you'll find out if papaya is as determined to grow as the little tree seedlings that most of us deal with in flower beds, that often come back when you don't get the root on the first try. The decapitation could be a blessing in disguise and will hopefully result in a more bushy plant.

Still knowing nothing about papaya except that's it's a woody entity, I would absolutely pot up the top and hope it grows too. Probably remove most of the leaves.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 10:19AM
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Pruple, thanks.

Yes, you mentioned 'flying' plants..Strong winds and plants don't mix.

One problem, the Papaya is grafted. The portion that broke is below the graft.
I didn't notice until after started this thread.

Purple, I like compact leaves, but prefer standard to bushy. Standards don't take as much space for one.

The plant was rather expensive, so during winter I made sure it was well-cared for. If I'd known it was going to fall, I'd have waited before taking outside, and place in its usual spot.

I don't know if the graft will grow something other than Papaya. If it was a Citrus tree it'd have to go in the trash.

Well, what can I do? Thanks for replying, Toni

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 3:48PM
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I have grown papayas from seed in a pot although never for more than a few years since they just like to grow way big. Back home in India it is considered a benevolent weed since a single ripe papaya in the ground will give rise to 100s of them. Just like a weed, it is hard to kill them. Chopping of the top was never a problem. We used to do that often to one in our yard to keep its height down. They snap pretty easy as you noticed. This torture always resulted in several side branches to show up with a fresh crop of papayas.

In its native condition a seedling will grow to 6ft or more in less than six months usually resulting in a small crop. The next season it would have grown another 4-5 ft but putting up more girth and more leaves. The leaves can be upto 2ft across for a mature plant. I had one grow in my yard in Pittsburgh that went upto about 5ft high in about 6 months and then the winter killed it. It even had an handful of flowers.

Now what I am wondering is why would anyone want to graft a papaya. May be it is some special variety that needs a good rootstock. I cannot even imagine that they can be grafted. I need to do some research.

I cannot imagine that it can root just with a cutting. I am not sure but it does not seem like that kind of a plant. However, the part still in dirt has some chance. The only thing I can suggest is to keep the humidity high since that is what it likes. Hope it survives and makes you happy.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:52PM
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My research indicated that grafting papayas is a common practice at least among enthusiasts. Learn every day. They can also grow from cuttings. Check out the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Papaya facts

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 9:11AM
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Tropic, first thanks for the link. I can try rooting the top, but it's starting to wilt. Because I didn't know what to do with the broken piece, it was placed in water. Can't say how long it lay upsidedown before finding it. Possibly two days.

A weed to one is an Orchid to another. :)

Too bad I don't live in India, or a similar climate. lol

It's amazing how fast plants grow in warm and brightly lit areas.

Unfortunately, I live in IL, 'midwest' USA. Hot, humid summers, and cold, dry, grey winters.
My Papaya, if it lives, will remain in a container, indefinately.

There are a couple reasons plants are grafted, but it's quite possible the seller wanted his greens to look larger. He made a point, several times, of his plants' heights. Stock alone is 12+". The top 'was' 10" or so.

It 'was' a large plant, but large plants equal higher costs. lol. Still, it arrived in perfect health, and over-wintered fine. Considering it was kept indoors.

Thanks for your help. Toni

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 4:49PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)


I'm guessing you mean stalk was 12' & top was 10', 'cause w/ the " " you're saying inches.

I wouldn't be surprised somehow if your Papaya makes it, these MAY be rugged plants. I grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil & sometimes saw Papayas growing in the countryside. From what I recall (I was less than 10 yrs. old) all their leaves were on the very top of the plant.

Some of the places I saw them growing were subject to torrential rains & landslides in January there & somehow those trees seemed to survive, so I'm concluding they're not fragile plants.

If it were my plant, I would definitely try to root the top & give it a good long while to try & re-establish. Good luck w/ it!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 5:29PM
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Hi Karen,

The Papaya tree is grafted. The root stock stands 12" (inches,) not 12' (foot) LOL. That'd be one big tree.

The trunk grafted on root-stock is 10".(inches.)

Forgive me if you're familiar with grafted plants. My intentions are not to tell you how it works, espeically if you already new, but to explain the situation, if you're unfamiliar.

A grafted plant is two different plants. In my Papaya's case, the Papaya 'top' and a second plant/root-stock, 'don't know root-stock variety,' bottom, w/roots, broke.

If left unattended, root-stock will produce its own growth/leaves. This growth must be removed ASAP otherwise it will take over and kill the main plant.

Since my papaya broke in the rootstock, not the papaya trunk, I'm worried new growth will not be papaya, but whichever variety the root-stock is.
Am I making sense? lol.

Those you saw in Brazil, 'lucky you,' were not grafted. If the papayas happened to break from strong winds, etc, they'd continue growing, natural true papaya.

Grafting is man-made.

Do you recall the plants in Brazil? We're you interested in plants then?

South America has the most beautiful plants and birds in existence. Do you ever visit?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 8:47PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Apologies Toni,

I really thought you meant FEET, not inches, my bad. I guess I also got confused thinking you'd said the vendor emphasized to you how tall this plant was. Maybe I misunderstood. I did see your mention of grafting. While I'm familiar w/ the concept & the reasons, I have no personal experience w/ it myself.

I'm trying to remember how tall the plants I saw were, I would have been in a car or bus, hard to say, maybe 6 ft tall, not 10 or 12 ft. as the link says they can attain.

Thanks Tropic, for the link, fascinating reading which I visually scanned but didn't quite find anything on grafting. I'll look again another time. I'm still wondering why, if they're such fast growers, do folks graft them.

(I don't eat Papaya, I have to leave the room they're in, the smell makes me ill. Their seeds are famously laxative & sometimes eaten for such purpose.)

I have vivid memories of the plants in Rio, not that I was particularly interested, I was just a kid. I think the plants were just such a part of everyday life. When we played house, my sister & I made pretend food by mushing up Red Hibiscus flowers. I remember seeing landscaping of groups of Sansevierias, like hedges of them & lots of giant Philos & Monsteras (the Swiss Cheese plants?).

I remember being disappointed that little red COT Euph miliis didn't smell good.

I was fortunate that my family went to the Botanic Gardens there a number of times. I got lost there once; other times I remember collecting specimens off the ground from under the trees, leaves, seeds, pods. How the place smelled after the rain.

I went back to Rio once after 22 yrs., hasn't been in the cards for me to go back for more, not a cheap trip. Someday. Was a great place to grow up, it's a particularly beautiful place if anyone ever has a chance to go.

Oh, you were perfectly clear in explaining. I get it that the break was in the rootstock (of unknown ID). Well can't hurt to try right?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Hi all

Pirate_girl: That article does not talk about grafting but does about propagation by cuttings. It also says common method of propagation by seeds. That is what I remember from back home. Ripe papayas smell can offend a lot of people. Back home I knew a lot of people who would not get near one. Green (unripe) papayas are a great vegetable. Very nutritious and cooks easy.

I found papaya grafting articles through google search. There is even a youtube video I saw.

Someday I have to make it to Rio. That is in my bucket list. In Hawaii, I saw a neat little hedge of papayas at someones front yard. Not really an hedge material but who cares. I am sure some crazy gardener there wants a jap. red maple really bad.

I grew up loving plants. My first one was rice - go figure - at age 4. It did not produce any rice ever. My parents thought I was destined to be a farmer.

Way off topic now. Apparently semi-hardwood cuttings should root easily. They also are very susceptible to fungal attack. So a sterile mix and/or antifungal elements will be usefull for the cuttings.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 3:32PM
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I was under the impression that papayas were just naturally prone to breaking and tended to be pretty short lived.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 10:23PM
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Karen, yep, the seller did boast, 'in a good way,' but he was comparing the size of his plants to other papapa sellers.
Most papayas are sent as seedlings, 5-7" tall.

With the root stock and trunk, the papaya, I bought was 20"+.

Karen, we'd have to sell our house and cars to pay for a 20' papaya tree and shipping, lol.

I've eaten papaya, few times considering cost, but didn't notice an odor. It's actually a very delicious fruit. Papayas here are over-priced and unripe. After a few days, like most other fruit,' they go from unripe to mold.

Did you get lost because the Botanical Gardens was large? That'd must have been scary, 'since you were a kid.'
In IL conservatory's, it'd be difficult getting lost, lol.

Karen, there are different papaya varieties..some grow much taller than others. Some reach 30'.
One reason I bought this variety is it only gets 8' tall, so does well in containers.

The reason fruit trees are grafted: Grafted are hardier, more disease resistent, tolerant to colder temps, and flower/fruit quicker than non-grafted trees.

Wow, playing house w/Hibiscus flowers. Much nicer and cleaner than mud pies, lol. Sounds nice. Good memories.

I'd love to see SA, but it's not in my cards, (or bank account) either. We only travel to US states when there's a funeral. In fact, we've never been on a real vacation.
When our son graduated boot camp, we flew to GA. Guess, you can say, that was our vacation. :)

Using papaya seeds as a laxative. Does one eat the seeds, as is? Interesting.
God really knew what He was doing when He designed the world. Foods can be used for more than eating the meat.

Anyway, yep, the break is in the un-ID'd rootstock. No it can't hurt to try, but after looking at both plants, I'm not feeling very optimistic.

Tropic, like you, I too grew up loving plants.
My aunt and uncle had a farm in MI. We'd visit on weekends.
At 5-yrs-old, I recall gazing in the fields. Greens as far as the eyes could see.
The scent was so comforting. Spying corn growing from a stalk was amazing.
They also had farm animals, but I was too young to remember.
At 11-yrs-old, upon my request, my dad bought garden seeds which I sowed in the back yard in Chicago. The corn ended up being horse corn, lol. I had no idea carrots and onions grew underground, so never found them. lol.
But, the tomatoes grew large and tasty. Also had a 2 or 3 watermelons, 'our dog ate them,' and 3 pumpkins.
I removed pumpkins in early Oct, but carved too early, so by Halloween, the pumpkins ended up in the trash. Mush!

Funny, you liked rice plants. Mind if I ask where you grew up?
For some reason I assumed rice had to be grown in water?? lol. Never saw a rice plant.

4-yrs-old, not only taking an interest but attempting to sow? rice seeds!

Hardwood cuttings. Tropic, the only part that can be rooted, if possible, is the papaya trunk.

Amcour. Howdy. Growing outdoors they might break from winds like Karen mentioned.
The only reason my papaya broke is because winds knocked it down, 'long drop.'

From the starte I doubted papaya would ever grow huge fruit, lol, but who knows, right? Mini fruit would have been nice, even if inedible.

I don't know anything about the life of a papaya, 'in the ground/hardy areas,' but even if the tree died after fruiting, fruit falls, split, and out pop seeds. In warm climates, the seeds would root on the ground, and start over. Voila, new trees.
This is all speculation, but isn't that how most trees produce?

BTW, if my papaya lived 10-yrs, I wouldn't have considered it short-lived, lol.

Thanks everyone, Toni

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 12:36PM
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