How to Grow Papaya

Papaya is a perennial plant grown in tropical and subtropical climates where there is no chance of frost or very low temperatures. Some species can reach a height of 9 meters and most of them bear bright yellow, orange or cream colored flowers.

Papaya fruits can come in a variety of shapes, including pear-shaped or round, and are known for their sweet, yellowish or orange-colored flesh. Learn how to grow papaya to increase your chances of getting healthy plants and a high-quality fruit crop.

See if the papaya can thrive in the region’s climate. Papaya grows well in regions where winter minimum temperatures range from -7°C to 4°C.  Papaya can be damaged or even die if exposed to prolonged cold weather and prefers warmer climates for most of the year.

Papaya does not do well in wet soil. If your area has a rainy climate, you can plant it in a well-draining mound, as described below. Prepare the soil.

Choose a soil mix (substrate) intended for tropical plants that is rich in nutrients, or make your own using garden soil and compost in a 25% to 50% ratio. As long as the soil drains well, the exact texture of the soil doesn’t really matter. Papaya grows in sandy, clayey, or rocky soils.

If you can measure the pH of the soil or if you have commercial substrates available, choose a soil that has a pH between 4.5 and 8. This is a wide range, so if other plants grow well in some portion of your garden , it is very likely that he has a soil with the correct pH for growing papaya.

If you want more seeds to germinate, use a sterile soil mix or sterilize your own substrate by mixing it with vermiculite in a 50/50 ratio and heating it at a temperature greater than 90°C for one hour

Prepare the seeds. You can use seeds taken from inside a papaya or seeds purchased at a garden store. Squeeze them against a sieve to break the membrane that surrounds them without breaking the seeds themselves.

Wash them with plenty of water and then dry them in a dark place with a paper towel.

Plant the seeds. You can plant the seeds directly in the garden and thus avoid the risk of transplanting them later, or you can plant them in pots to have greater control of the plants, as you can see which ones are sprouting.

Place the seed in the soil about 1/2 cm below the surface and spaced about 5 cm apart.

Plant as many seeds as you can in the space to increase the chances of getting both male and female plants, removing weaker ones later. There is no reliable way to tell whether a plant is male, female or hermaphrodite before planting it.

Water the soil sparingly. Water it thoroughly after planting, but without soaking it or forming puddles. Monitor the humidity over the next few weeks and water as needed, keeping the soil slightly moist but not soggy.

Define which seedlings you want to keep. After about two to five weeks of planting, some of the seeds will germinate and sprout in the soil as seedlings.

After letting them grow for another week or two, pull up or cut back the smallest seedlings, as well as any that appear wilted, blemished, or have any health issues. Select plants until only one remains in each pot or separate seedlings at least 90 cm apart.

Keep at least five plants for a while for a 96% or better chance of producing male and female papaya trees.
Once you’ve chosen the most successful plants, move on to the planting step if you’re transplanting them into your garden, or the general care section otherwise.

Once the plants flower, remove excess male plants. If you still have more plants than you estimated, wait until they reach approximately 90 cm to determine the gender of each plant.

The male plant flowers first, producing a long, slender stem with many flowers. The flower of the female plant is larger and closer to the trunk. In order to produce more fruit, you will only need to have one male plant for every ten or fifteen female plants; the others can be removed.

Some papaya plants are hermaphrodites, meaning they produce both types of flowers. These plants self-pollinate.  Make a mound of soil if necessary to prevent moisture. If the area is subject to heavy rain or flooding, make a mound 60 cm to 90 cm high by 1.2 m to 3 m in diameter.

Thus, water is prevented from accumulating at the root of the papaya tree, reducing the chances of damage or death of the plant. Read the instructions below before making the mound of dirt and learn how to prepare the mound.

Dig a hole. Dig a hole three times as wide and deep as the pot size. Choose a sunny, well-drained location approximately 10 feet away from buildings or other plants. Drill a single hole for each plant.

Mix an equal amount of compost and soil from the hole. Replace some of the soil in the hole or mound with compost, mixing it well, unless your garden soil is already rich in nutrients. Do not mix the soil with manure as it can burn the roots.

Add a fungicide to the soil (optional). The papaya tree may die from diseases caused after transplanting. Follow the instructions for the fungicide and apply it to the soil to reduce these risks.

Place the plant carefully. Add the modified soil back to the hole until its depth is approximately equal to the depth of the soil pot or the size of the plant’s root, then you can transplant it, or make a small mound with the soil.

Remove the papaya trees from the pots, one at a time, and plant each specimen in its own hole, at the same depth as it was in the pot. Handle them carefully to prevent the root from breaking or becoming damaged.

Fill the hole with the rest of the earth and water. Fill in the remaining space with the same earth. Pat the soil carefully to eliminate air pockets if the soil does not fill the spaces between the roots. Water the newly planted papaya seedling until the soil around the roots is completely wet.

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