Growing papaya tree in Sydney

Growing papaya tree in Sydney

Growing papaya -third year of growth

Childhood memories of the fruit of mom’s papaya tree was my prime motivation for growing papaya in my backyard. But, you say … the papaya is a tropical fruit … so can it grow in Sydney ?
The answer is YES ! It CAN !.

I loved papayas – juicy, sweet, and delicious papaya !
The papaya can be used as food in many delicious ways. Some examples are listed below:

  • As a fruit salad: The ripe papaya is cut into bite size pieces, chilled, and served as an appetiser before meals.
  • As a smoothie: Heap chunks of chilled ripe papayas into a blender. Blend with cold milk, wheatgerm, and raw almonds. Pour the mix into a tall glass. Sprinkle with cinnamom dust. Enjoy !
  • Papaya titek: A peranakan soup cooked with semi-ripe papaya. I have memories of mum pounding the fresh herbs and spices to cook this dish. I have since discovered that a tablespoon of laksa paste boiled in a good ikan-bilis stock together with the semi-ripe papaya pieces will do the trick !

Sowing the seeds

  1. Experiment with a few nice ripe papayas from the fruit market. Save the seeds from the juiciest, tastiest fruit.
  2. Plant the seeds directly into the soil at a spot in your backyard that is sunny, and sheltered from the elements.
  3. The best time to do this is in early Spring.
  4. After a week or so, seedlings will appear. Thin out the seedlings after a few weeks.

The young plant

Growing papaya - Young plant
Your seedling would have grown into a strapping young thing by the time summer arrived. Remember to water every morning. Stand back and watch the young plant grow.


Growing papaya - flowers
This is the moment we are waiting for – the arrival of flowers ! The type of flowers will determine whether you’ll get fruit. There are three types of papaya plants as listed below:

  • Male trees bear flowers that contain only stamens (the male reproductive part)
  • Female trees bear flowers that contain an ovary (the female reproductive part)
  • Hermaphrodite trees bear flowers that have both male and female parts.

Male or Female?

Growing papaya - hermaphrodite flower

Congratulations …

if your tree bears flowers that resembled this picture … your tree is hermaphrodite, bearing flowers that have both male and female parts. What this means is that the flowers are self-pollinating … and we do not need the services of the bees.

When the temperature drops

Image papaya tree in its third year of growth
In 2015 we had a very cold winter. Although we tried to protect the papaya tree, it eventually succumbed to the cold. Its head and of abundant branches and foliage, bitten by the cold, shriveled away and fell off. At the end of winter, We were left with just a stump with a dried out top, sans foliage and branches. We decided to chop off the papaya tree.
Winter passed and Spring came. We were busy and “forgot” to remove the dried out papaya tree.
For once, we were glad that we procrastinated, for with the coming of Spring, we noticed that shoots were forming in the dried out stump of a tree.


Growing papaya - resurrection
By the time summer came around, we were glad that we “forgot” to chop off the papaya tree. As you can see in the picture:

  1. New shoots formed … leaves followed…
  2. The shoots became branches.
  3. Flowers appeared soon after.

New Life

Growing papaya - New life
It is now Autumn in Sydney … and look at our “resurrected” papaya tree (albeit still bearing the scars of last Winter’s adventures !

Copyright Belinda Ong 2016
This is part of Belinda’s Lifestyle series of blogs.

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