Papaya Growing Guide

Carica papaya


Crop Rotation Group



Fertile, well-drained soil enriched with plenty of compost.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant

No. Papayas are tropical plants with little tolerance for cold. They are hardy only to about -1°C (30°F).


Feed with a balanced organic fertiliser monthly during the rainy season to support steady growth.


Single Plants: 1.80m (5' 10") each way (minimum)
Rows: 1.80m (5' 10") with 1.80m (5' 10") row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Papayas are easily grown from seed sown in containers or where you want the plants to grow. Many selected cultivars have both male and female flowers, but others are either male or female. Only female flowers set fruit. Papayas often start blooming within a year, making it easy to cull excess male plants. Set out container-grown plants at any time of year in tropical climates except the dry season. Papayas need regular water and are easily stressed by drought. Papayas can grow to 20 feet (6 m) tall, with most of their large leaves at the tops of the plants. In containers, grow one plant per 14-inch (35 cm) wide pot. Papayas are often grown as ornamental summer foliage plants because of their large, showy leaves.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalised calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Native to South America, papayas are fruits of the rainforest. The fast-growing, upright trees need weather that stays warm year-round. Papayas often start producing their second year after planting. Papayas grow so fast that they need little if any pruning. The trees are often short-lived and usually die before they are ten years old.


Most papayas fruit during the winter months, though it is not usual for plants to bear ripe fruits while continuing to bloom. Fruits are set along the main trunk and ripen gradually, from the bottom up. Papayas are ripe when the fruits change colour and feel soft. Refrigerate papayas for longer term storage.


Several insects injure papaya fruits, and papaya ringspot virus is a serious threat in some areas. Papaya leaves are loaded with bitter sap that deters feeding by many pests.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Papaya