How to Grow Papayas

Before deciding to grow papaya, find out if your climate supports papaya growth. Papaya plants only grow in tropical and subtropical areas, which fall into USDA hardiness zones 10 to 11. These zones include the warmer areas of California, Florida, Hawaii and Texas. If you live in any of these states, you can grow papaya.

Best Conditions for Growing Papayas

Papaya plants grow very fast, reaching from 10 to 30 feet tall. They grow one hollow stalk that produces leaves and fruit at the top. For the most prolific growth, they require the following conditions:

  • Temperature – The first thing to consider when planting papayas is temperature, which must be between 70°F (21.1°C) to 90°F (32.2°C). They can die or have severe damage if the temperature falls below 31°F (-0.6°C).
  • Soil – Check that your soil is porous and has a neutral pH of 6.0 to 7.0. It must also have good drainage. The soil should stay moist during the hot weather and dry during cold weather.
  • Water – Your papayas should receive at least 40 inches of rain each year. If you live in a drier area, you can use irrigation methods to water your plants. Keep in mind that too much water or poorly drained soil can cause root diseases within one day.

Types of Papaya Plants

Papayas have three different types of plants: hermaphrodites, females and males. The male plants only produce pollen. They never produce fruit. Both female and hermaphrodite plants can grow fruit. Female plants need pollination from the male plants. This occurs by wind and insects carrying the pollen. Hermaphroditic plants are self-pollinating. Make sure you have both male and female plants for fruit production, or you can plant only hermaphrodite plants.

Planting Papaya

If your area meets the climate and soil conditions, plant your papaya plants or seeds in full sunlight, spacing them from 5 to 7 feet apart. When planting more than one row, space the rows from 8 to 11 feet apart. For successful root development, add organic matter to the soil before planting and spread mulch over the soil after planting. If you plant papaya seeds, they’ll mature in six to nine months.

You can pinch off the top of the seedlings, encouraging the papaya plant to branch out and remain shorter. This makes harvesting easier.