Papaya (lat.Carica papaya) is a short palm-shaped tree. In natural conditions, it reaches a height of 5-10 m with large leaves. The birthplace of the papaya or melon tree is Central America.
In indoor conditions, it lives for about 20 years, when optimal conditions are created, it can bear fruit for the first 4-5 years with fruits similar in appearance and taste to melons. No wonder the papaya is called "melon tree". It should be noted that the juice of unripe papaya fruit is poisonous and only fully ripe fruit can be eaten.
Other names for papaya: melon tree, breadfruit, carica papaya.
Lighting. Papaya needs bright lighting. The best place for her is near the southern, southeastern windows. In summer, papaya will feel good on a ventilated balcony or terrace. In winter, artificial lighting with fluorescent lamps is recommended.
Temperature. Papaya is thermophilic, for active growth it needs a temperature in the range of 23-27 ° C without sharp fluctuations. A cold draft in winter can lead to leaf fall, and at temperatures below 15 ° C, the overall development of the plant slows down. But even temperatures above 29-31 ° C are undesirable for papaya, negatively affecting fruiting.
Air humidity. The plant needs moist air, especially in hot weather. Spray your pet at least once a day, especially if the weather is hot. Place a container with water near it or place the pot in a tray with wet expanded clay. Just make sure the papaya pot doesn't come into contact with the water.
Watering. Water sparingly and often, but only after the top of the potted soil has dried out. Papaya does not like constantly moist soil, the roots need air for normal development.
Important: water the papaya with heated water (approx. 30 ° C), standing for a day. Make sure that the soil does not sour.
Top dressing. To maintain active growth, papayas need to be well fed. Fertilizers are applied from early spring to autumn once every two weeks. In the spring, top dressing with ammonium nitrate with trace elements is recommended, and in the summer - with superphosphate and nitroammophos. However, you should not get too carried away with mineral fertilizing, they should be alternated with fertilizing with organic fertilizers, and the latter should be preferred.
Transfer. The melon tree is actively growing, so it is recommended to replant it frequently. In the first year, 2-3 transplants are possible, up to 3-4 years annually, an adult tree every two to three years. Since the root system of papaya is shallow, it is better to take wide and shallow pots for transplanting. Diameter - 5-6 cm larger than the previous one. The soil should be loose, slightly acidic, it is better to add vermiculite or perlite to the purchased soil to provide air access to the roots. Put drainage (shards, brick chips, expanded clay) on the bottom of the pot with a layer of 2-3 cm.
Trimming and shaping. Usually papaya does not need pruning.
Flowering and fruiting: The plant begins to bloom when it reaches a height of at least 1 meter. Flowers grow from the axils of the petioles and eventually turn into fruits about 20-40 cm long and 15-30 cm in diameter.
Be careful: the juice of unripe papaya fruit is poisonous!
Reproduction. The melon tree is propagated by seeds or cuttings.
Diseases and pests. Papaya is prone to attack by aphids and spider mites. In cool weather, powdery mildew may appear on the leaves.
Plants in winter. In the cold season, the plant must be protected from drafts. Cold air, especially when the substrate is waterlogged, can cause rotting of the papaya roots.
Interesting facts: Papayas are used for flavoring cheese, in perfumery. Indigenous tribes in Mexico use the leaves instead of soap when washing their clothes.