Papaya plants grow quickly and produce impressive amounts of fruit. Choose from several varieties and grow these plants from seed, making sure to plant more than one to ensure pollination and fruit production. Protect your precious papayas from the wind and give them plenty of sunlight and water.
Do you like the idea of growing your own papayas? Papaya trees are impressive producers, yielding 60 to 80 pounds of fruit in a year. If you live in the southern half of the state, it’s time to get those seeds in the ground!
Plant from Seed
Papaya roots are sensitive and may not respond well to transplanting, so it’s best to grow them from seed. It won’t set you back much, though; these plants are fast growers, and you may be picking fruit in as soon as nine or 10 months!
Papaya plants can be male, female, or hermaphrodite (bisexual). Male plants do not bear fruit, but they provide the necessary pollen for female plants to fruit. The fruit of a female papaya tree will be inedible unless pollinated. Hermaphroditic cultivars self-pollinate and do not need a mate to produce fruit.
Unless you know about the plant your seeds have come from, you will not know the seeds’ genders. Therefore, your best bet is to plant several papaya seeds so that you have the best chance of ending up with a plant or two that will produce fruit!
Choose the Right Variety
The papaya plants that thrive in Florida are the Hawaiian and Mexican varieties.
Hawaiian papayas are pear-shaped, yellow-skinned, and have a sweet taste. These plants reach eight feet tall, and the fruits weigh about one pound. Solo and Tainung are popular Hawaiian varieties.
Mexican papayas are oblong, red-skinned, and milder than their Hawaiian cousins. They are also much larger, growing to be 10 to 12 feet tall and producing fruit weighing about 10 pounds. Popular Mexican varieties include Red Lady and Maradol.
Where in Florida Can I Grow A Papaya?
Papayas are tropical plants, so, naturally, they are best suited for South Florida and warmer parts of Central Florida. Root growth is most productive when the soil is at least 60 degrees, and plant growth and fruit production is best when temperatures remain between 70 and 90 degrees.
Where to Plant Your Papaya
Due to the top-heavy nature of the papaya plant, it is susceptible to toppling if not protected from the wind. To protect your precious plants, make sure to place your papaya in an area where constant high winds are blocked, like near a wall or tree cluster.
While your papaya tree needs wind protection, it also requires full sun to flourish. Give your trees the best of both worlds by placing them seven to 10 feet from trees, landscape features, or buildings so that they are sheltered from the wind but still receive full sun.
Papaya trees need consistent water to maintain healthy growth and produce the best fruit. During hot and dry seasons, water trees planted in sandy soil at least every other day and those in loamy soils every three or four days. Watering should be less frequent in cooler seasons.
For optimum plant growth and health, mulch around a plant’s base, keeping mulch eight to 12 inches from the trunk and at a depth of two to six inches.
Use a complete fertilizer to provide nutrients to your papaya trees. Fertilize every other week for young plants and every other month once the plant is seven or eight months old.