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Papayas die when moving from pots to ground


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I plant papaya seeds one per 1L pot and when they are around 15cm tall plant them in the ground. For many years this has worked, but the last 2 years something has gone wrong. No matter where I plant them, no matter how much or little water, no matter what soil conditions, no matter if my own seeds or store bought, every single one of them withers and dies a few weeks later like something has hit the roots. I've planted 50 at a time and when freshly planted they are healthy as can be for a week or two growing well and looking fabulous, then they just die suddenly. I don't want to give up on papayas as they are such a wonderful fruit for the wildlife from birds to civets so any insights or suggestions are welcome.

 

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Recently I watched a bunch of U-tube videos about growing papayas.  Some of them have very conflicting advice. One video on seed selection recommended selecting seeds from the top half of the papaya (more likely to be female seeds), immersing the seeds in water and discarding any seeds that floated. Another guy from Sri Lanka who came across as the papaya God in his U-tube video recommended snipping the main root to ensure that it would be a female plant. (I know, sounds crazy, but I tried it). He also recommended, taking off the gel sac but NOT drying out the seeds, rather planting them immediately. He claimed drying out the seeds beforehand would result in spindly plants.

 

So taking a little from a bunch of U-tube videos, I followed this process: harvested from upper part of papaya, discarded any seeds that floated, removed gel sac, planted freshly harvested seeds without drying, planted about an inch/half inch deep. Plants emerged very quickly, looked very healthy, very promising. But when the plants were about maybe 3-4 inches tall I transplanted them into small individual containers, and snipped the main root as the one video recommended. They did not transplant well at all, yellowing, and a few died as you described in your post. It might have been because I followed the "snip the main root" advice, but I think the main mistake I made was transplanting the seedlings when they were too small and root structure was still underdeveloped. I do not plan to follow the "snip the main root to ensure the plant is female" advice next time, and plan to wait until the young trees are at least a foot tall before transplanting directly into the ground. This has generally worked well in the past. I recall that one other video warned that papaya trees HATE having their roots disturbed. Good luck.

 

Edited by Gecko123
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Snipping the tap root is the strangest thing because I had read long ago that is one thing that will kill a papaya tree. I use big, deep pots so the tap root and root mass can remain undisturbed when planting in the ground. My papayas do well in pots for any length of time, even a month or two. It's when they go into the ground something finds them. Mold? Subterranean bugs? Often after the attack the trunk is loose and will fall over, severed under the ground.

 

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As far as I'm concerned, Papaya grow where they decide to grow, somewhere between the kitchen and the compost heap. I have transplanted, being very careful to take enough earth with the roots, about the time of formation of the third set of leaves, usually OK. The fact that they will die if the garden gets flooded for more than a day or so suggests that they don't like having their subsoil disturbed at all. 

If I was cultivating in pots, I would wait until the roots were appearing through the drainage hole, usually a sign that you can remove the plug without it falling apart.

 

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I had problems earlier with transplanting them. Since I started sowing bags with a mix of compost and rice husks it has worked better. I let them grow to 20-30 cm and roots in the whole bag before touching them. Papaya are known to be difficult to plant out. When planted out give them some shade the first time during mid day as the sun can burn them if they were in a shaded area before.

 

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6 hours ago, canopy said:

Snipping the tap root is the strangest thing because I had read long ago that is one thing that will kill a papaya tree.

 

This is the U-tube video where the guy from Sri Lanka recommends cutting the main root. I'm just sending this for your review and I'm definitely NOT able to endorse this technique based on personal experience.

 

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Madam, who is expert on all things green, plants half a dozen seeds in the final locations and once they get going pulls all but the strongest one.

 

She tells me they don't like being moved.

 

I do not argue.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you plant the seeds in one of those small, black plastic pots, you can just cut holes in it and, move to where you want it and then bury the pot. This ensures no damage to the existing root structure.

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On 3/23/2021 at 6:23 PM, canopy said:

Good info. I noticed that product is on lazada. I will give it a try.

Another thing to consider is the fertilizer that you use, and how you manage the soil preparation.  High Nitrogen chemical fertilizers jack the vegetative growth, but usually do not have a Calcium component, or a full range of micronutrients and trace minerals that are important for building cell wall strength and resistance to disease.  Chemical fertilizers can also suppress or kill the all-important beneficial soil biology.

 

Try Organic Totto bokashi, which has a built-in beneficial microbials, derived from the Japanese EM technology. 

 

Humic acid and a trace minerals source, kelp and/or volcanic or glacial rock dust can also be incorporated for soil building.  

 

Soil preparation and complete fertility, along with good water management should be the basics.  Biological fungicide is an  extraordinary treatment. 

 

 

Bokashi fertilizer.docx

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  • 5 months later...

I’m going to try to move a 6’ papaya the birds or a squirrel planted in a shady area for me….gets light but no sunshine so it won’t produce fruit!

We grow papaya here in the mountains with very few problems except those big doves will clip off the plants at the ground level if we plant them out under a foot or so tall! 
Plenty of papaya but I’ve taken a liking to this particular plant because he tries so hard so even tho’ he’s taller than me I’ll try moving him!?

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