Growing & Caring for Papaya Trees
June 27, 2011
Do you want to plant and grow your own Papaya? Here are some tips that can help.
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.
The fruit of the Papaya is also called pawpaw and is eaten raw without the skin. The fruit is sweet, low in calories and high in potassium and vitamin A. Papaya is also used in drinks, jellies, salads, desserts and is also dried and candied.
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 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: Grow best in full sun. Papayas love the heat and sunlight.
- Fertilize: Papayas are heavy feeders and require regular fertilizing. Adding compost is also recommended.
- Water: Papayas have large soft leaves and evaporate a lot of water in warm weather, so they need above average watering.
- 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.
We currently have Papaya seeds and young plants for sale in the Garden Shoppe and grow the several varieties on the grounds of the Estates. Visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates Garden Shoppe to see some of the varieties we have available. The horticulture staff is available to assist you and to answer any further questions you may have.