Learn how to grow papaya tree. Growing papaya is perfect for you who like to grow easy to grow fruit trees. Papaya tree care is simple, it is low maintenance and productive.
Papaya (Carica papaya L.) is native to the tropics of Mexico and Central America. This fruit for high nutritional value, great taste and medicinal properties.
Papaya is mainly consumed as a fruit, the fruit is sweet, low in calories and high in potassium and vitamin A, but it is also used for making soft drinks, juices, pickles, jams, and curries. It produces latex that is extracted from the green fruit and stem, which contains an enzyme called papain that helps in digestion of proteins.
The Papaya tree (Carica papaya) is a tropical fruit that originated in Mexico and South America. It is now grown throughout the North American tropics and other tropical regions around the world.
Papaya is a herbaceous plant of relatively rapid growth and short life (not profitable to cultivate mature plants for longer than 3 years because the fruit yield gets low). It has a hollow, segmented and erect single stem and no branches. It presents a many large, lobed leaves. The plant height can reach up to several meters.
The fruit has a wide variety of forms, its shape and size vary depending on the variety and type of flower.
There are many varieties of Papaya, but the main varieties grown in the U.S. are Red Lady, Maradol, and various Solo types. To successfully grow Papayas, you need a frost free climate, lots of sunlight, lots of water and good soil. If you give your plant all of these conditions, then you can grow a papaya from seed and generally have fruit in 6 to 12 months.
Growing Papaya from Seeds
Seeds must be given treatment before sowing for germination. The first method is to simply wash the seeds to remove gelatinous coating before sowing. Another method is to immerse them in a container full of neutral water for the period of 4 days. Change the water twice in a day. After 2 days of soaking, separate the seeds that are floating on the surface from those that have settled down.
Leave the seeds that are settled down for another day. After this time, the seeds that float up again must be removed. This way only the viable papaya seeds are left. On the last day when changing the water, add fungicides in it.
After this process, keep the seeds on cotton cloth for 2 to 3 days, keeping up the seeds wet. Once the white dot in them can be observed they are ready for sowing.
Proceed to sow the seeds directly on the ground or in the pot or seed tray but remember that papaya trees don’t transplant well and you’ll have a low success rate. Seeds will germinate in 2-3 weeks. Optimum germination temperature is around 70 F (20 C).
You can also grow papaya without the seeds, which is by grafting the papaya
Planting Papaya Tree
Once the seedlings germinate sow them directly in a spot as papayas have less success rate when transplanted.
Prepare the ground well before planting. Make a hole in soil that is of the same depth as of rootball of the plant but twice wide. Apply slow release 16-48-0, 18-46-0 or balanced 15-15-15 fertilizer according to the product instruction at the base of the hole, fill it with a thin layer of soil to prevent the plant roots from coming in direct contact with the fertilizer.
The base of each plant should be 1 cm above ground level, to prevent rot at the stem base. After transplanting, a fungicide can be applied to ensure greater protection especially if planting during the rainy season.
Growing and Caring Tips for Papayas
- Climate: Thrive in subtropical and tropical climates. Zone 10 to 11. They do not tolerate freezing temperatures and are damaged or killed if temperatures go below 32 degrees.
- Pollination: The female plants produce fruit and may be cross pollinated with others by insects and wind. There are plants that may be self-pollinating (bi-sexual).
- Growth Habit: The papaya is a short lived, fast growing woody herb. They generally have a single trunk and grow 10 to 15 feet tall, but some plants have been known to grow taller.
- Sun Light: As much as possible. It’s ok if the leaves wilt a little bit in hot weather. Papayas love heat and sunlight. You can get them to grow in partial shade, but you just end up with a spindly, sickly tree, and if you ever get any fruit it will be several metres up in the air and taste insipid.
- Fertilize: Papayas are heavy feeders and require regular fertilizing. Adding compost is also recommended.
- Water: Papayas have large soft leaves. They evaporate a lot of water in warm weather, so they need a lot of water. But unfortunately papayas are very susceptible to root rot, especially in cool weather. Overwatering is the most common reason for problems when growing papayas.
- Soil: Papayas do best in rich soil that is high in organic matter. Make sure your planting location and soil has good drainage to avoid root rot.
- Harvesting: Generally, fruit is picked when there is 1/5 to 1/3 color change in the fruit. After picking, keep at room temperature to fully ripen. Ripe fruit will keep 4 to 7 days in the refrigerator.
Growing Papaya In Cooler Climates
If you get at least long hot summers you could grow papaya just as an ornamental plant. In this case you would start them in a pot indoors to gain extra time. Plant them out against a sun facing wall and enjoy the tropical look. However, you won’t be able to keep your papaya alive long enough to get fruit.
The only other option is growing papaya in a huge pot, and to keep the pot in a heated greenhouse in winter. Still, I doubt you’d get reasonable fruit of it. I would grow papaya as an annual decorative plant.