How to Grow Papaya - Tips for Transplanting and Planting Papayas

Papaya zone 9b

Have you ever wondered about how to grow papaya? Here in Zone 9a, papaya grows well, but there are a few tips to get the best fruit production.

Papayas are one of our favorite fruit trees, because it is one of the fastest producers once you've put a seed in the ground.

We originally began growing papayas, when our pediatrician suggested we feed papayas to any of our kids with digestive issues and stomach trouble. After a visit to the grocery store, we paid about $5 for our first papaya and quickly realized that we needed to grow papayas ourselves to be able to afford a steady supply.

Some of the kids do not like the taste of papaya, so we cube it, freeze leftovers and use it for weekly smoothies.

Plant Instructions:

Papaya:

The Fruit: Papaya is sweet when ripe and yellow, but it can also be used in recipes while green. It can be eaten raw, and it is excellent for use in smoothies. You will receive fruit within 1 - 2 years of planting. When harvested, the fruit freezes well, so if you have an abundance, cube the papaya and freeze it for later use. We recommend that you pick your papayas at the first sign of yellow and let them finish ripening inside, unless you like to share with wildlife such as squirrels. 

Health Benefits: Papaya has plenty of antioxidants, and it can be used to improve digestion. It may help free excessive radicals, which is the cause of dementia, cancer and skin damage. Papaya has anti-cancer properties, and papaya may protect your heart and prevent inflammation. Learn more about the health benefits of papaya here. 

Planting instructions: Papaya likes to grow in the sun. The more sun, the faster it grows, and the better it produces. If possible, plant papaya in clusters, close to the southern and/or eastern wall of your house. Protect small plants against temperatures below 45 degrees F. Large papaya trees do not need to be covered during cold spells, but expect the plants to look wilted and sad until it warms up again. 

Papayas do not like to be transplanted. So, once you decide where to plant your new papaya plant, don’t move it. If you buy a small papaya, let it stay in the container until it matures a bit. Just make sure there are a few holes for drainage. Plant the papayas about 4 - 6 feet apart, and make sure to water well the first week or two until they get established. We recommend planting papayas before rain, as this helps them transition better to their new home. 

Don’t despair, if it looks as if your papaya is dying just after transplanting. It is normal for papayas to lose their leaves after transplanting. Just keep on watering, and it should recover and start getting new leaves within a few weeks. Make sure papayas get water, but do not let the plan ts stand in soggy ground, as it will kill the papaya trees. Papaya loves well-draining soil, home compost and rainwater. 

If your papayas do get hit by the cold/frost, give them time to recover. If there is no sign of improvement after a week or two, cut the papaya at an angle, where it is firm so that water does not settle. You can put a plastic cup or a plastic bag over the hole, to prevent standing water from rotting your cut papaya tree. You will likely see new growth on your papaya after a week or two. If the papaya falls over, cut it down low, and you may still see new growth. 


Papaya grown from seed

Pollination: 
You will likely need more than one papaya tree, as papayas are either male, female or unisex. Female papaya trees need to be pollinated by a male tree to bear fruit, male trees do not bear fruit, but one is needed for pollination of female trees, and unisex trees can manage pollination by themselves. You can either rely on pollinators to help with pollination, but if you are not getting any fruit, you can try to use a paint brush to get pollen from one tree to the next. We highly recommend adding pollinator-friendly plants to your garden, as this will increase any fruit production. 


Papaya grown from seed in Florida zone 9b


Tips on Sourcing Your Papaya:

The health benefits of eating papaya are numerous, but by growing our own we control the growing environment and ensure that pesticides are not used in the process. The papayas in the grocery store usually come from South America or Hawaii, and if you're trying to avoid genetically modified food make sure to do some research on the country of origin, and whether that country produce gmo papayas.

We grow maridol papayas, and we have had great results. This past winter was the first winter that our papayas got hit severely by the cold, but 80 percent has recuperated after being cut down, and we are excited to have papayas growing again. Even our 3-year-old papayas seem to have come back stronger with more branches.

  • If you find an organically-grown papaya, it is non gmo. 
  • Avoid papayas from Hawaii. These are mostly gmo papayas, as diseases wiped out the non gmo papayas. If you do want s papaya from Hawaii, make sure it's the native Kapoho variety.
  • Chose papayas from Asia, Mexico, Brazil or Belize, as gmo papayas are not generally produced in these areas.
  • Maradol papayas are not genetically modified. The maradol papaya also go by the name Caribbean Sunrise and Caribbean Red in the grocery store.

Want to learn more about growing papayas? Check out outrother papaya posts below, and don't hesitate to leave a comment or question, or send us an email at dancingtreetopsblog(at)gmail.com




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