The Q&A Archives: Papaya Trees

Question: I put papaya seeds in the yard, and many of them sprouted. I weeded out most of them, but left about 4 sprouts. One grew up very quickly, and before long it flowered. Small fruit appeared on the tree, but did not stay. One grew to about the size of a baseball before it, too, fell off. The leaves

Answer: Papaya is usually dioecious, so that at least one male and one female plant are required for fruits to be produced. There are, however, cultivars that are monoecious (separate male and female flowers on the same plant), and the popular cultivar Solo has perfect flowers (each flower on a plant has both stamens and a pistil). Male flowers are small and borne in long clusters, whereas one to several female flowers are produced on a short stalk in the axil of each leaf. Typically only one female flower per leaf develops into a fruit. You'll need to wait until your papaya flowers and check to see how the flowers look. I suspect you have a female plant (because it began to produce fruit) and you need a male plant (for cross pollination so the fruit will develop fully).

Best wishes with your papaya trees!

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