Gardening secrets: How to Grow Papaya in a Pot or your Garden
Papaya fruit is known for its high nutritional value, great taste, and medicinal properties. After all these facts, let’s have a look at How to Grow Papaya below.
Papaya is native to the tropics of Mexico and Central America and is now grown almost all across the world in subtropical, tropical, and arid climates. In the United States, they are grown in Texas, California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Florida. Major Papaya-producing countries are India, Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Mexico.
Papaya is a herbaceous plant of relatively rapid growth and short life. This is the reason why it’s not commercially profitable to cultivate mature papaya trees for longer than 3 years because the fruit yield gets low afterward.
The tree has a hollow, segmented, and erect single stem and no branches. It presents many large, lobed leaves, which look highly ornamental. The plant height can reach up to several meters (usually 6-20 feet) and has a shallow root system, making it an excellent choice for container growing.
Requirements for Growing Papaya Tree
The papaya needs plenty of sun due to its high photosynthetic activity. It is impossible to grow it in the lack of sunlight. You need to keep in mind when choosing a location for growing papaya trees–they are not strongest and must not be planted in a too windy spot.
Good soil preparation practices are key to growing papaya, such as deep plowing and mixing a lot of organic matter. Therefore the main characteristics of soil for growing a papaya tree are the following:
- Loose and Moist
- Good Drainage
- High Organic Matter Content
- pH Level 5.5 to 7 (Neutral)
- Fertile and Deep
The ideal growing medium must be loamy and have adequate content of organic matter with good moisture retention capacity and efficient drainage. Soil depth is also an important factor for root development.
Soil that is more than a meter deep is suitable. Compact soil must be avoided; also, clean the rocks or other debris that could limit the development of roots till the following depth before planting.
Drainage is crucial in papaya cultivation. The proportion of sand, silt, and clay determine the texture and soil structure:
- Sandy soils have better drainage than clay. But too sandy soils that are low in organic matter have reduced water retention capacity, which must be avoided.
- In clay-rich soils, water movement remains slow, leading to root rot, slow development of the plant, and inhibiting nutrition uptake.
- In very alkaline soils (above pH level 8.0), Zinc, iron, and other micro-element deficiency can occur.
Water is the main contributor to the plant (this plant is composed of about 85% of water). In the process of germination and the first few months after planting, papaya needs a lot of water at that stage.
In the dry season, to get the optimum results in production, watering must be increased again. Keep the soil slightly moist but not wet. As a rule of thumb, water the papaya plant deeply when the top one inch of soil dries out.
Excess water causes the yellowing of young leaves, premature fall of flowers, and root rot. Low moisture in the soil can lead to slow growth, accelerated aging and premature foliage, and fruit drop.
Papaya trees must be spaced 8-10 feet apart from each other.
It is also an important factor that determines if the plant will grow or not. Papaya is one of the easiest fruit trees you can ever grow. The optimum temperature for growing papaya ranges between 68-90 F (20-32 C). Low temperatures lead to slow growth of the plant, and higher temperatures cause low production.
The papaya tree can bear cold temperatures down to 32 F (0 C) for a short period of time. In hot climates, it can tolerate temperatures above 100 F (38 C). But due to extreme temperature above a hundred Fahrenheit, heatwaves, and drought, flower buds fall, and the plant suspends its growth.
How to Grow Papaya in Pots
Growing papaya in pots is not difficult, considering it is a short-living small tree with shallow roots. You can grow any papaya variety in a pot and cut the top off to shorten it. However, it is better to choose a dwarf variety if you’ve options available. Hawaiin papaya trees are considerably shorter than Mexican ones and seldom grow over 8-10 feet.
Choose a large 15-20 gallon size container for growing papaya in pots. Also, ensure there are enough drainage holes in the bottom before planting. A pot that is at least around 18-22 inches in diameter and 16 inches deep should be sufficient. If you can get bigger size pots, that is even better–Old drums, barrels, and buckets are also a good choice.
Sow the seeds directly in the final pot you intend to use for growing papaya tree later because this fruit doesn’t transplant well sometimes. All the other growing requirements are given below in the article.
Papaya Tree Care
Papaya tree care is easy if you grow it in warm conditions, in full sun:
Mulching a papaya tree with organic matter helps in retaining moisture, which is essential in hot climates. It also saves it from hot and cold weather.
Papayas are heavy feeders. Apply plenty of aged manure or compost regularly near the base of your plant.
You can also apply complete fertilizer like 15-15-15, 0.1 kg, or a similar mixture at intervals of two weeks during the first six months and 0.2 kg after that.
For pots, you can opt for liquid or slow-release balanced fertilizers.
No pruning is required
Pests and Diseases
Pests that can attack it are fruit flies, mites, black vine weevil, aphids, leafhoppers, and whitefly. In diseases, it suffers from soil fungi, powdery mildew, fruit rot, papaya ringspot virus, and nematodes.
Papaya fruit set occurs 9-12 months after planting. The fruit is sensitive to sunburn, and it must be separated from the tree carefully using plastic gloves or something similar. Pick it lightly with a twist or use a short knife, leaving a 0.5 cm stalk.
Papaya is a fruit that, after being cut, continues its maturation without stopping. Papayas harvested for selling in the market are harvested green with two or three yellow stripes as fruits that reach 75 to 100% maturity are difficult to transport. Fruits must be collected in the early hours of the day and must not be exposed to the sun.