Papaya is a perennial plant that grows in tropical and subtropical climates where there is no possibility of freezing or below freezing. A number of species can grow to 9.14 m in height, and most have attractive yellow, orange or cream flowers. The fruit of the plant can take a variety of shapes, including pear-shaped or round, and is known for its sweet yellow or orange fruit. Learn how to grow papaya with the best odds on health crops and harvest high quality fruit.
Part 1 of 3: Growing Papaya from Seed
Step 1. Check first if the papaya will survive the climate in which you live
Papaya survives USDA hardiness zones 9-11 which are compatible with winter minimum temperatures of -7ºC to 4ºC. Papayas can get sick or die if exposed to prolonged frost, and tend to prefer warm climates all year round.
Papaya trees are not suitable in wet soil. If the climate where you live is a lot of rain, you can plant papaya on a mound of soil with good drainage as will be explained further
Step 2. Prepare your soil
Choose a mixed nutrient-rich growing medium for tropical plants, or you can make your own mixed growing medium consisting of garden soil and 25–50% compost. As long as the soil has good drainage, the actual soil texture doesn't matter. Papaya will grow in sandy, loamy, or rocky soil.
- If you are able to check the acidity (pH) of the soil or you are choosing between a commercial growing medium mix, choose a soil with an acidity between 4, 5 and 8. This is a wide range, so expect any soil that is successful in growing other crops in the soil. your garden has the right acidity to grow papaya.
- If you want more of your seeds to germinate, use a sterile mixed planting medium or sterilize your own growing media mix by mixing it with a 50-50 composition of vermiculite growing medium and then roasting it at 93ºC for one hour.
Step 3. Prepare the seeds
You can use seeds taken from the center of the papaya fruit, or seeds purchased from a plant store. Press the beans against the side of the sieve to break the bag that encloses the beans, without breaking the beans themselves. Rinse thoroughly, then dry in a dark place with toilet paper.
Step 4. Planting seeds
You can plant the seeds directly in your garden to avoid the risk of transplanting the papaya later, or you can plant the papaya in a pot to have more control over plant management once you see the papaya seeds start to sprout. Immerse the seeds into the soil about 1.2525 cm below the soil surface and about 5 cm apart from the rest of the seeds.
Plant as many seeds as possible according to the available space to increase the chances of both male and female plants sprouting; You can remove the weaker plants later. There is no possible way to tell whether a plant is male, female, or hermaphrodite before planting
Step 5. Water the soil sufficiently
Water evenly after planting, but don't soak the spot where standing water forms soil. Keep an eye on the humidity over the next few weeks and water sparingly, keeping the soil slightly moist, but not soggy.
Step 6. Decide which seedbed to keep
About two to five weeks after planting, a number of seeds will germinate, and emerge through the soil surface when sowing. After giving the seedlings a week or two to grow, remove or cut off the smallest seedlings, along with any seedlings that appear wilted, mottled, or otherwise unhealthy. Set the plants aside until you have only one plant per pot, or nurseries are spaced at least 0.9m apart. Save at least five plants for now for a 96% or higher chance of producing both male and female trees.
Once you have selected your most successful plants, proceed to the planting section, when transplanting into your garden, or any other general care section
Step 7. Once the plants begin to flower, remove the excess male plants
If you still have excess plants that you want to remove, wait until they are about 0.9 m tall to determine the sex of each plant. Male plants should flower first, have a long fruiting period, and thin branches with few flowers. The female plant is larger and closer to the tree trunk. For plants to produce fruit, you only need one male plant for every ten to fifteen female plants; the rest can be discarded.
Some papaya plants are hermaphrodites which means that they produce both male and female flowers. These plants can self-pollinate
Part 2 of 3: Growing a Growing or Mature Papaya Plant
Step 1. Make a mound if necessary to avoid water
If there is heavy rain or flooding in the area where you live, create a mound of soil 0.6–0.9 m and 1.2–3 m high. This will help prevent water from flooding around the papaya roots, reducing the chances of the papaya getting sick or dying.
Read the instructions below before making the mound, you need to learn about soil preparation
Step 2. Dig a hole instead
Make a hole three times as deep and as wide as the planting pot or root ball, in the place where the plant will be permanently planted, about 3.1 m away from buildings or other plants. Make a separate hole for each papaya plant.
Step 3. Mix equal amounts of compost into the excavated soil
Until your garden soil is rich in nutrients, replace some of the soil in the hole or mound with compost and mix thoroughly.
Do not mix with fertilizer, as this can burn the roots
Step 4. Moisten the soil with a fungicide (optional)
Papaya trees can die from disease after transplantation. Follow the instructions for gardening with a fungicide and apply it to the soil to reduce this risk.
Step 5. Add plants carefully
Add the amended soil back into the hole or pile on the mound, until the remaining soil is almost equal to the depth of the soil in the pot or root ball of the plant to be transplanted. Remove the papaya plants from the container, one at a time, and plant each in its own hole at the same depth as when the plant was in the container. Handle the plant with care to avoid breaking or pulling the roots.
Step 6. Refill the hole with soil and water it
Fill the remaining space in the hole with the same soil. Enter slowly to remove air pockets if the soil does not fill the spaces between the roots. Water the freshly planted papaya, seedling until the soil surrounding the root ball is evenly wet.
Part 3 of 3: Caring for Papaya Plants
Step 1. Apply fertilizer once every two weeks
Use fertilizer to grow plants every 10–14 days, diluting the fertilizer according to the fertilizer instructions. Use a "complete" fertilizer, not a special one. Continue to apply fertilizer at least until the plant is about 30 cm tall.
Once the plant reaches this size, commercial growers continue to fertilize the papaya once every two weeks with 0.1 kg of complete fertilizer near but not touching the base of the plant. Follow this practice if you want to accelerate plant growth, gradually increasing the amount of fertilizer and the length of time between fertilizer application until the papaya receives no more than 0.9 kg every two months starting at seven months of age
Step 2. Water the papaya nursery and erect the plants regularly
Papayas spoil easily when standing in standing water, but may not produce large enough fruit without regular access to water. If the papaya is planted in clay soil that holds water well, water it no more than once every three or four days. In sandy or rocky soil, increase the frequency of watering to once every day or two during the summer. Leave the papaya plant for a few days between waterings during the cooler seasons.
Step 3. Use bark powder if needed
Use pine bark powder or other bark powder around the base of the plant if you need to cut back weeds or if the plant appears to be wilting because it is failing to retain water. Layer 5 cm of straw around the papaya, no closer than 20 cm from the trunk of the plant.
Step 4. Check papaya leaves and bark regularly for signs of disease or insects
Spots or yellowness on the leaves or bark of a tree indicate possible disease. Dark spots on the leaves usually don't affect the fruit, but can be treated with fungicides if the infection is severe. Curling leaves can be a sign to pick up herbicide from a nearby lawn. Other problems, including insects or plant collapse completely, may require consultation with a horticulturist or local department of agriculture.
Step 5. Harvest papayas when they reach your desired level of ripeness
Fruit that is still sour and green can be eaten as a vegetable, but many people prefer fruit that is ripe and yellow or orange because of its sweet taste. You can harvest at any time after the fruit is mostly yellow-green, if you want the papaya fruit to ripen the tree, keep it away from pests.
Chill the ripe papaya in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life and flavor
- Do not cut or pull grass close to the papaya tree, as you may accidentally hit and damage the trunk of the papaya. Maintain approximately 0.6 m of grass-free space around the papaya to reduce the need for weed control underneath.
- Do not fertilize the grassy area around the papaya tree. Because the roots extend further than the drip line, over-fertilizing grassy areas can damage the roots.