Papaya tree care is minimal as long as you are growing them someplace warm. Carica plants are not fussy when given the sun and heat they desire. Cool weather alters the flavor of the fruit and even a light frost will damage the plant.
Papaya is best raised in greenhouses in the temperate zone.
Flowering Papaya Tree
Papayas come in 3 types, Hawaiian (Carica papaya),Mexican (Carica pubescens), and babaco (Carica pentagona). The Hawaiian varieties do not grow taller than 8 feet and are easiest to harvest.
A ripe fruit has yellow skin, a deep orange or pink interior, and weighs not more than two pounds. Mexican papaya fruit is as large as one foot. It is easier to grow but less sweet than Hawaiian papaya.
A papaya tree can be grown either from the seeds or from nursery plants. Plants can be male, female or (certain Hawaiian varieties) can produce flowers of both sexes.
Above: Close view of a papaya leaf.
Left: Unripe papaya fruit.
When growing papaya, do not expect the female tree to bear fruits if you do not also plant a male. A male papaya tree does not bear fruits but helps the females around him to bear by pollinating them. A ratio of at least one male plant to ten female plants is required.
This takes a lot of space and is why the Hawaiian varieties 'Solo' and 'Sunrise' are so popular. Seedlings of these cultivars will produce flowers of both sexes more than 65% of the time, making 2 out of 3 plants self-fruitful.
Papaya Flowers and Buds
Spring is the bet time to plant new papaya plants.
Papaya tree care involves careful watering.
Papaya trees need lots of water during hot weather as they have large leaves, but if you give the tree too much water the fragile roots tend to rot.
Counter this tendency by planting the tree a little high in fast draining soil. If it rains in the winter where you live, a plastic tarp placed around the root zone will keep the roots dry and warm. Compost fertilizer and mulching are necessary as the plant grows.
Make sure that the plant gets enough sunlight, less sunlight means less sweet fruits.
One aspect of papaya tree care is choosing the right site. It is best not to plant them where they will be exposed to heavy wind. The root systems are not that strong and the plants can topple in strong winds.
Papaya trees growing in a Cuban food garden called a huerto.
To grow papayas from seed (seed from a papaya bought from a store is just fine), you need to wash and dry the seeds before planting them. Germination takes 2 or 3 weeks.
Papaya Tree Care Tip:
It is best to plant the seeds wherever you want the plants to grow as their roots are sensitive and they do not like being transplanted.
If you want to grow your papaya tree (it really isn't a tree but a large perennial herb) in a container, sow several seeds a large pot. Start with the size container you want the plant to end up in so you don't have to move it later.
The Hawaiian varieties are best suited to pot culture as they only grow to a height of 8 feet. They will flower and fruit at 3 feet tall in a 12 inch pot.
This is why you may not want to grow the Mexican varieties; you won't be able to reach the fruit!
If you want to grow papayas from seed in the ground, choose a high, dry spot in full sun and plant the seeds there. Avoid planting the seeds in windy areas as papayas will often fall in high wind.
Papaya Tree Care Tip:
When the seedlings appear, drench the soil with a liquid fungicide to prevent them damping off. Still, expect to lose a few.
Once they are 6 inches tall, remove the excess plants by cutting the tops off. Pulling them from the soil could disturb the roots of the remaining plants. Leave one plant per pot.
Space plants in the ground at least 5 feet apart, more if you are growing the larger Mexican varieties.
When you plant papayas from seed you can expect flowers in five to six months and fruits in 12 to 14 months.
Related Pages:How-tos for Growing Papaya Indoors
Delicious Fruits You Can Grow at Home