Growing plants from the fruits you eat is satisfying, and papayas are relatively straightforward to grow from seed. You can keep the papaya tree indoors if you don't have a garden or you live where it's too cold to cultivate tropical fruit trees outside. Getting any fruit off the tree is a little more difficult. You often need more than one tree for pollination to occur and may not wish to turn your living room into a little orchard. However papayas work well as decorative plants with their large, unusual leaves and distinctive, palmlike shape. Papaya trees make more interesting houseplants than your average yucca plant or cactus and are cheap to grow from seed.
Cut the papaya in half and remove the seeds.
Wash the pulp off the seeds to prevent mould and encourage germination. Leave them to dry on a newspaper or paper towel.
Prepare one large pot for each papaya tree. Papaya seedlings don't take well to being transplanted, so it is best to start them off where they will remain. Put the pot in a sunny location, add a thin layer of gravel for drainage and fill with potting compost or a 3-to-1 mixture of potting compost and sand. Water the soil until it's moist.
Sow the papaya seeds about an inch deep in the pot. Sow several seeds in each pot. Some won't spout, some will be weak, some might succumb to disease early and there is no harm in having a few spares.
Remove weaker, smaller seedlings as they grow. You could try potting the extra seedlings so you have spare trees for gifts. Otherwise, compost them.
Water your papaya sapling every day or couple of days but let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. The very top of the soil should be dry to the touch before you water again. Continue as the sapling grows into a tree.
Fertilise every two or three weeks with a complete fertiliser.
You can't really prune papaya trees because they have only one shoot. The pot should restrict growth. Outside these trees can grow to 33 feet tall. If the tree does become too big, transplant it outside and let it take its chances. Papaya seeds from a nursery may produce better trees than ones collected from a fruit.
Tips and warnings
- You can't really prune papaya trees because they have only one shoot. The pot should restrict growth. Outside these trees can grow to 33 feet tall. If the tree does become too big, transplant it outside and let it take its chances.
- Papaya seeds from a nursery may produce better trees than ones collected from a fruit.