From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
Papaws from Cuttings
Scientific name: Carica papaya
Extract from May 1962 issue of E.F.G.A. newsletter
South African horticulturists have worked out a method of
propagating papaya (papaws) from cuttings. This now means that selected
plants can be mass-produced and the variability, fruit size and quality
so often encountered in most papaya plantations can be eliminated by
the production of cuttings.
Near Pieter Maritzberg, uniform,
good-quality papaw fruits, produced on plants propagated vegetatively
by cuttings, have brought returns as high as R15,000 per hectare for
The variety 'Hortus Gold' is a female plant which has
been vegetatively propagated by rooting leafy cuttings under
intermittent mist with a bottom heat of 25°C.
rooting of leafy cuttings, strict sanitation is essential, otherwise
stem rots can kill the cuttings. The well-drained rooting medium must
be sterilised by steam or chemicals between successive batches of
Leafy cuttings are taken from young side shoots during the summer
when the stem is still green. They normally take 4 to 6 weeks to
Cuttings can also be taken in the spring and autumn, but the success rate is lower.
technique is to take cuttings which are at least 20 cm long and at
least 2 cm in diameter, and remove all leaves except the 3 to 4
developing ones with vertical leaf stalks. All other leaves are cut
back leaving about 10 cm of the leaf stalk.
The reason for
leaving the leaf stalks is to ensure that if bacterial infection occurs
at the cut end of the stalk, it will not be able to progress far before
natural abscission develops at the base of the petiole. By cutting the
leaf stalks long, it prevents the chance of bacterial infection of the
stem of the cutting.
After trimming the leaves, the base of the
cutting is dipped in a root-promoting powder such as indole-butyric
acid (IBA). A powder formulation of 1 percent IBA or a concentrated
quick dip of the cutting in a 2000 to 4000 p.p.m. lBA in 5 percent
ethanol gives good results.
Bottom heat at 25°C applied by electric heating cables beneath the rooting medium also hastens rooting.
mist applied during the daylight hours keeps the leaves cool and
turgid. This allows plants to photosynthesize carbohydrates while the
roots are being incubated.
Once rooted, the cuttings are potted in small plastic bags with drainage holes, and are left under mist for about 10 days.
They are then hardened off in a shade house prior to transplanting to their permanent positions.
The rooted cuttings should be planted as deep as possible without covering the growing point with soil.
Note: Kerevat Horticultural Research Station at Rabaul, P.N.G. is
currently propagating papaws by the bud grafting technique. They graft
selected good varieties on to local wild root stocks.