I NOW SHARE MY WORLD WITH A PAPAYA
This June a friend of mine, Pat Patel, gave me a small papaya plant, about four inches high in a paper cup. It grew and grew--to the extent that I had to re-pot it three times. Today the diameter of my plant’s canopy is 30 inches. It stands 27 inches tall from the soil in the pot to the top of its canopy.
I’m still undecided about a kitty, but at least for now or until it dies, I’ll be sharing my world with a papaya in my living room. I’m sure it will teach me many lessons. In fact, it already has.
It’s amazing how quickly one can fill up one’s brain and it keeps expanding to make room for more information. Even old people like me can continue to learn and evolve. For example, just day before yesterday I knew practically nothing about papayas except that I like to eat them and that they are a tropical plant that does not survive a frost. Now just a day later, I know about two pages worth of information about papayas--not an expert to be certain, but perhaps I have enough knowledge to keep this one alive for a while or at least until it bears fruit. [I’ll keep you posted.]
HERE ARE A FEW OF THE QUESTIONS I GOOGLED TO ASSIST ME IN MAKING MY DECISION TO KEEP OR TOSS THE PAPAYA:
I began my quest for answers with two deal breakers for me.
- How soon does it bear fruit? Like most Americans I lean to the impatient. I’m not about to nurse a plant that takes 3 to 5 years to make fruit. Besides I might die in the meantime.
Well, the papaya passed this criterion with ease. According to all the sources, papayas begin to produce fruit 7 to 11 months after planting. That means my plant could begin producing as early as Christmas.
- Does the papaya require a second tree for pollination? Many fruit trees require as second tree. I’m not about to nurse two indoor trees. As it is, I’m not that fond of houseplants anyway as they tend to draw gnats and other undesirables.
AND the papaya passed this dealbreaker with ease. I found: “Papaya does not require a second tree for pollination because the male flowers on the tree can pollinate the female flowers on the same tree. However, papaya trees will provide a better fruit yield when there is an additional tree close by.”
A FEW MORE NECESSARY FACTS ABOUT PAPAYAS:
- Sunlight is crucial for the growth and development of your papaya tree. Papayas need a lot of sun. (I’ll probably need to get a grow light for mine.)
- Papaya trees need fertilizer. I read that Nelson Citrus Fruit and Avocado Tree Plant Food is a great fertilizer choice for your papaya tree. It has a balanced nutrient ratio specifically for fruit trees to properly grow fruit. I may see if I can find some on the Internet as I doubt my local stores (first choice) would carry it.
- Papayas need moist soil but they cannot tolerate standing water. Make sure to put plenty of holes in your pot. Papayas are prone to root rot.
- Male flowers grow in thin clusters, with thin shoots that extend off the tree a few inches. Female flowers are fuller and grow right above leaf stems. The female flowers need to be pollinated to produce fruits. If you are growing papaya plants inside strictly, you can pollinate these flowers yourself by using a cotton swab or a small paintbrush.
By the way, If you live in most parts of Florida, south Texas, Arizona, southern California, and Hawaii you can likely easily grow a papaya tree outside.
ARE YOU INSPIRED NOW? DO YOU WANT TO GROW PAPAYAS?
This is an especially fun activity to do with children.
- Buy a papaya in the store.
- Remove the seeds
- Wash the seeds, break the outer sac that contains the seed—this outer shell inhibits germination—dry the seeds for a day or two, then plant them.
- The seeds will start sprouting in a few weeks. You’ll just need to have well-drained soil, keep the soil moist, and make sure they are kept very warm. Papaya trees thrive in higher temperatures. Keep the room warm.
NOTE: If you live in North Texas you can bring it outdoors when all danger of frost is past.
It's good to know as much as possible about the plants you grow because then you are better able to care for them. AND, it makes the adventure of gardening even more fun.
IF YOU PLANT NOW, YOU COULD EVEN USE PAPAYA PLANTS AS A HOLIDAY GIFT.
Plant in a nice clay pot. Make instructions regarding its care and voila! You have a great gift that cost less than $5.