Growing your own Papaya, tips, and tricks to a deliciously successful fruit
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Do you love Papaya? I sure do. It has such a sweet-tart, creamy taste and is great for you.
Growing Papaya (Carica papaya Linnaeus) isn’t hard. You can keep the seeds from an organic Papaya, and 9 times out of 10 they will grow into a hardy tree and produce fruit.
It isn’t 100% clear where Papaya originated but most people believe they traveled with the Spanish and Portuguese to the Americas.
Papayas thrive in subtropical and tropical regions.
Botanically they are considered large herbs and can grow to 30 feet tall at their max height so plant them in an area where they can grow nice and tall. Unless, of course, you read on and learn a helpful trick.
Sometimes I throw the seeds in a container or in the yard and wait for the surprise trees to show up and share their tasty goodness with me.
Years ago I tossed some seeds into a pot and multiple trees popped up. At the time we had 12 rescue bunnies. They have all since gone over the rainbow bridge but fear, not they lived long happy lives and taught me a lot about herbs and gardening. But that is for another post.
Gizmo, of the bunnies, ate the top off my 12″ tall Papaya tree. I thought that was that and figured it would die soon after. It didn’t die and it came back even stronger.
Sometime later, one of my garden friends told me that in Cuba and Puerto Rico they cut the tops off just like Gizmo did so the plants would grow back dwarfed. This way it is easier to reach the fruit. Thank you Gizmo, for that tip. You always were a great gardener.
Normally, a Papaya grows between 6-15 feet before it produces fruit. It will continue growing but after a bit of time, the fruit isn’t as sweet.
Left to nature the cycle would go something like this … fruit from the older tree drops, rots, and the seeds grow into new plants with sweet fruit. Most gardeners cut down the older trees when the fruit stops coming in sweet, but you could just leave them there for looks and animals if you’d like.
It only takes about 6-11 months to grow from seed to fresh ripened fruit. It all depends on the soil, light, water, and temperature during that period.
This makes Papaya a great first choice when starting out with fruit trees or a school garden. It isn’t instant satisfaction but pretty darn close.
You can eat Papaya plain and they come in their own biodegradable bowl. Papaya is great in salads, in dressings, in sauces, you can make jams and chutneys, or you can add a dash of salt and lime juice like they do in Mexico. Hello Yum!
There are some great Thai dishes that use green papaya which is also fantastic. The green papaya is not ripe yet.
You can save the seeds to grow new trees at a later date or dehydrate them and grind them up for parasite medicine for you and your pets. The seeds are great for killing parasites. Many animals like to eat them fresh too and receive benefits from it but check with your vet first just to make sure. They taste peppery.
I love the seeds and use them from time to time as a crispy dehydrated treat in salads. Please do your research before using them and consult your doctor if you are on any medications or have concerns about eating them.
Papaya filled with nutrients like Vitamin C, A, Magnesium, and Potassium and is thought to help with digestion, lower cholesterol, improve heart health, support eye health, is filled with antioxidants, boosts immunity, and can help with weight loss.
If you want to try to grow Papaya here are some tips and tricks.
- Papaya trees like a good amount of water like most fruit trees. It takes a lot of water to make those juicy fruits. However, they don’t like sitting in water so well-drained soil is the best.
- They like a bit of sandy loam Alkaline soil is perfect for Papaya.
- They do enjoy nutrients and as we don’t promote chemical fertilizers we suggest using fish emulsion, compost, or another organic product like worm castings.
- You can grow them indoors but need to make sure they have access to plenty of bright light and a nice size pot so they can grow big and strong.
- They can also be grown in a greenhouse if you monitor the temperature. Papaya thrives in subtropical and tropical climates. Zones 10-11 are great.
- There are a few varieties like the Sunrise Solo (most common), Golden Yellow, Mountain Papaya, Red Lady, Maradol, and Bella just to name a few. They are different flavors and sizes.
- Cool fact. Payapa has male, female, and bisexual plants. It is the female flowers that turn into the best fruit. However, bisexual flowers can also produce small fruits. The males are great for cross-pollination. Plant a lot and you are bound to have all three. The pollinators can help you fertilize the female & bisexual flowers when you have males close by so plant a bunch of seeds.
- To pick the perfect fruit they should be a little soft and have a nice red, orange, or yellow flesh, depending on which variety you planted. I personally love the yellow/orange. Those are ready when the fruit is completely yellow. I like to let most things ripen on the plant but you can remove them and let them ripen off the plant as well. The fruit should be firm but push in just a touch with light pressure. If it is too soft make a juice or nice cream, or freeze them for future use in smoothies.
- When they get to about 12″ tall, cut the top off. I know it hurts, but they come back better than ever and stay smaller in height so you can reach the fruit easier. It worked when Gizmo did it.
I’d love to hear your experiences with Papaya. Share your recipes, growing techniques, or anything else you’ve experienced with Papaya. We all learn when you share.
Plant Power On!