Red Lady papaya plants – 4 months old

There I was taking measurements in preparation of my monthly update on the Red Lady papaya trees when I noticed something interesting happening at the crotch between each leaf and the main stem of the biggest plant. No, I’m not talking about anything naughty! I thought I saw offshoots forming – it looked like more leaves sprouting, the same way my tomato plants branch out. Yet, something looked interesting…

I had to pretty much crawl to get under the leaves so I could take a better look. Again, that sounds naughty, but it’s not. The plant in question has grown quite a bit since the last update. Back then, it was 36cm high; now, it stands at 72cm from ground to apex of stem, or 90cm if you include the leaves in the measurement. Last time, I measured to the crown of the plant, so that’s a staggering 54cm of growth in one month! Nevertheless, it’s still shorter than me, so that’s why it took some maneuvering to get closer to the stem without breaking off any leaves.

And here’s what I saw:

Are those flower buds growing at the crotches? Be still my beating heart!

As I said, my first thought was that the tree was beginning to produce offshoots, but then I recalled my last post about how quickly the tree had grown and that it was reaching the right height to begin to flower. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I think those are flower buds forming right now! 8)

And so the nail-biting time begins – will it be a boy, a girl, or an in-between? To get ready for any eventuality, I’m familiarizing myself with the article that Mama Cina brought to my attention at local gardening guru Wilson’s blog about identifying papaya flowers. It’s very informative.

As for the other trees, Red Lady One – so named since it sprouted first – is now 43cm from ground to stem apex, or 52cm from ground to crown. Red Lady Two is of course our budding beauty mentioned above. Red Lady Three is the first transplant, and it is doing well, too, at 27cm from ground to apex of stem.

Red Ladies 4 to 7 are still lagging behind at between 15 to 24cm high, but are beginning to grow a bit faster now. They are still in pairs, but I think I’m going to transplant the smaller of each pair anyway, because I really can’t bear to cull a growing plant unless it’s a weed.

I’m actually grateful that the plants are developing at such different rates, because then we won’t have a huge glut of fruits (assuming they can all bear fruits) at the same time. Am I crazy to keep so many trees growing simultaneously? Probably, but I had to take the gender/pollination issues under consideration when I planted them. It will break my heart to have to cull any even if they’re non-productive trees.

Stay tuned as the Red Lady papaya saga continues…

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