How to Grow a Papaya Plant

Overview

Papayas are native to southern Mexico and Central America, and need lots of sunlight and heat to thrive. The two varieties of papaya are Hawaiian and Mexican, with the Hawaiian variety most commonly found in grocery stores. Papaya plants are fast-growing and can get up to 12 feet in height with 3.5-foot-long leaves emerging in a spiral from the top of the stem or trunk. This plant needs dry soil conditions and warmth year-round--as even a light frost can damage it. These factors make papayas a good choice for growing in containers or greenhouses where conditions can be monitored closely.

Step 1

Find a location to grow your papaya where it will receive full sun daily and where heat is reflected, such as along a south-facing wall. Plan to plant three to four plants together to ensure that you will have both male and female plants available to help with pollination. This will also help create an abundant crop of fruit. Plan to space the trees about six to 12 feet away from each other and never closer than 10 feet to other trees or buildings.

Step 2

Use a well-draining soil to grow your papaya plant in and, if necessary, amend the soil before planting with an organic compost. The soil should be slightly moist in hot weather and dry in the colder months.

Step 3

Keep the watering consistent by allowing the soil to dry somewhat before watering, but do not let it dry out completely. Papayas that become too dry will drop leaves. Water every three to four days for optimal growth, cutting back during the winter months, when the soil may be allowed to dry out in between watering.

Step 4

Feed your young papaya plant every two weeks for the first couple months with a high-nitrogen fertilizer (e.g. 10-5-5). After that, apply regular applications of a balanced fertilizer, 10-10-10, every month except in winter.

Step 5

Protect your papaya plants in the colder months by building a frame around the plant and putting bedding or plastic sheeting over the frame. Light bulbs plugged into an outlet can be used for additional warmth, if necessary.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not let the soil become cold and wet, or you risk harming the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Well-drained soil
  • Organic compost (optional)
  • Fertilizer
  • Plant frame
  • Plastic sheeting or bedding
  • Light bulbs
  • Outlet connection

References

  • California Rare Fruit Growers: Papaya Fruit Facts
  • Papaya Lovers: Growing Papaya Trees
Keywords: grow papaya plant, papaya plant, growing papaya plant

About this Author

Residing in Southern Oregon, Amy Madtson has been writing for Demand Studios since 2008 with a focus on health, pregnancy, crafts and gardening. Her work has been published on websites such as eHow and Garden Guides, among others. Madtson has been a childbirth educator and doula since 1993.