Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Papaya, Mamão, Melon Tree
Carica papaya

Family: Caricaceae
Genus: Carica (KAIR-ih-kuh) (Info)
Species: papaya (puh-PIE-yuh) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

44 members have or want this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 45 photos.
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15 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive greenman62 On Dec 13, 2014, greenman62 from Kenner, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

this is absolutely my favorite fruit.
it is one of the healthist fruits there are.

To grow this in the ground, you should be in zone 10 or warmer
I am in zone 9a
so, i have a few tricks after years of growing them.
LOTS of mulch is a must, they love organics, and it is great winter protection.
I plant them on the south-face of my house, about 2-3 feet away.
The roots grow under the house (and stay warm)
the roots are not damaging, they are not hardwood
they are pretty soft, and will not hurt concerte.

i plant with an evergreen on each side of them
just far enough away so the leaves intermingle a bit.
this cuts the wind down, and keeps the heat near the ground.

grow a dwarf variety...
or, cut the top 1 or 2 inches off, when its about 3 ft tall
again when its 4 ft tall.
then, every spring if it gets over 6ft.

the farther away the plant top is from the ground,
the less heat it has, and more damage to the plant.
keep it as short as possible, but still able to fruit
(about 6ft)
if you know you will get a couple of hard freezes
remove most (or all ) of the fruit just before the freeze.

keep the roots dry during any cold weather
they are surprisingly drought tolerant
they need water when its hot, but not when its cool.
lots of mulch should keep the soil fairly moist anyway.
i add a plastic tarp over the mulch all winter.

root-rot and cold-wet feet
is their nemesis

Positive graciemae On Nov 24, 2008, graciemae from Sealy, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Just tonight I had someone identify that the plants growing in my yard are papaya trees. I had probably 30 or more come up in a flower bed after I emptied my compost bin. I don't know where the seed came from I had never bought a papaya. I pulled most of them up left a couple and one is about 10 feet tall and just blooming. One fell over with Ike this Aug. - it's lying on the ground with large fruit on it. Falling didn't seem to hurt it at all as it's still growing like crazy. I'm just glad to know what it is and will update when I actually get fruit from it

Positive basilio On May 1, 2008, basilio from Athens
Greece (Zone 9b) wrote:

Papayas are great, but I don't think that they can tolerate 9a winter temperatures, as it is claimed here. I had about 10 papayas grown from seed and just one freezing night (lowest temp. around 26F) was more than enough to kill every one of them...Not as hardy as listed!

Positive tmccullo On Nov 24, 2007, tmccullo from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

We bought some of the Red Lady papaya's to try the taste. The are absolutly much better than the Mexican papayas we get here at the grocery store. It is a much sweeter fruit. We planted the seeds and have about 20 or so papayas growing together. The flowers are very sweet smelling and attract bees and huming bird moths. The trees are about 8 foot tall and have fruit on them. One last year died back when we had a rough winter with several days in the high 20's but has come back with several branches.

Positive FloridaGrower On May 5, 2007, FloridaGrower from Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

The above comment is not entirely true. Papaya is good for a few years and several crops before the fruit starts to decline. You should get at least 3 to 4 good crops out of it.

Neutral Tetrazygia On Dec 20, 2006, Tetrazygia from Miami, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

Papayas have long been naturalized where I live, and there seems to be a good amount of genetic diversity because in our yard we get all kinds of variety in the plants and fruit. New plants are always sprouting up, and we usually let them grow until they flower and then keep only the females. Some end up having small fruits, some are very large. So far, though, they all have white or beige flowers--unlike the yellow flowers I see on plants in parks and whatnot.

We let the female fruit, but once she has fruited heavily and have gotten enough ripe fruit off her, we cut that tree down. I don't know if there is any truth to the reasoning, but my family swears that a papaya that continues fruiting will only start to produce lower quality fruit. I'd like to hear someone else's thoughts on this!

Positive armentarius On Apr 29, 2005, armentarius wrote:

I concur with Harrison's experience. Last year, I bought a papaya (aka "lechosa", in Venezuela) from the Farmers' Market in Houston. It was an unusually delicious, red one. I saved the seeds, and threw them in my flower bed where I also grow Tabasco Pepper plants. They grew rapidly, flowered and put on fruit, lots of fruit. They survived the Christmas Eve "snow storm" and continue to have lots of delicious fruit. Definitely positive experience in the Houston area, when no hard freezes occur.

Positive rjuddharrison On Apr 13, 2005, rjuddharrison from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have similar results as JaxFlaGardener. I bought a Papaya at the store, saved the seeds. I wasn't prepared for the sucess of the seedlings as I planted extra for casualties. I put 2 into pots, wintered them in the green house then planted them in the ground the following spring (last year 2004). I planted them in 2's and 3's after reading about the male and female. They must be a Hermaphrodite species as every tree produced fruit that was nice and sweet. The trees all survived the winter, even snow on Christmas eve, keeping the fruit which are becoming ripe now. I'm harvesting the fruit for the seeds as the over winter ones don't seem as nice for texture and taste. I was giving the surplus away left and right last year because I had so many. They were a novelty to people here because there are not too many in Houston. I haven't quite figured out the right combo of fertilizer yet.

Positive JaxFlaGardener On Apr 13, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I bought a small papaya plant last year. It grew to about 6 ft in a 30 gallon pot, flowered, and produced good sized fruit. I am fairly certain it is the only papaya for miles around, so I apparently have the self-pollinating variety. I overwintered it in my greenhouse. Most of the leaves fell off as well as some of the fruit, none of which had time to ripen in one season. I've now moved the potted plant back to its location in full sun in my garden and will probably have ripe fruit before the Fall. The tree is somewhat of a novelty in NE Florida since we do typically have a few nights of below freezing temperatures in the Winter. I find the elongated trunk shape, waxy flowers, and mammarian fruit attractive enough to be worth the effort of hauling the plant in and out of the greenhouse with the seasonal changes, but based on what I've read in the notes here, I may try growing new plants early in the season from seed and treat it as an annual next year.

Positive DawnRain On Apr 12, 2005, DawnRain from Bartow, FL wrote:

As a child, papaya was a fruit I avoided. I liked its look, but I did not like the smell or the musky taste. There are fruits now with wonderful taste and if you didn't like papaya before, try one of the new ones. Marado is often sold in grocery stores. It is large and melon like and very delicious. So is Sunset, a small type. And Red Lady is super too. There are others, but those come to mind at the moment. These are all red fruited. I don't know if that makes a difference in the taste, but I have seen other papaya haters change their mind.

Positive Kameha On Apr 11, 2005, Kameha from Kissimmee, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Such a wonderful versatile plant. Not only does it give you delicious fruit but it provides fragrant flowers and attractive foliage. Very common dooryard plant in much of the Florida surprised me how many old specimens there are even in Orlando. Provides fruit year round. It will be killed by frosts and freezes but mine has been growing for 4 years now. If you want more of a chance of it making it through the winter than plant it close to a southern wall of your house. It will also benefit from absorbing some calcium from the foundation concrete. North Floridians grow papayas as an annual and it will bear fruit in only 9 months. You need both male and female plants for pollination but there are bisexual plants as well. Male flowers hang further out from the trunk and female flowers are directly on the trunk. Pollination is usually by sphinx moths. You can protect ripening fruit from birds by placing a nylon over the fruit.

Easily germinated from seed. In north and central florida to be sure of fruit by next fall, germinate seeds indoors in fall or winter and plant papayas outdoors in early spring. Powdery mildew can be a problem in cool, wet conditions but is easily controlled by organic and inorganic fungicides.

Fertilize monthly with 10-10-10. They are heavy feeders like bananas.

Positive sonotaps On Aug 11, 2004, sonotaps from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

I live in Phoenix and have my solo variety (3) planted together in a raised bed with cactus mix. If you grow Mexican Papaya (not as good in my opinion but a little easier), make sure you have three in order to get fruit. With Hawaiian, you have a 66% chance of fruit with just one plant, but why risk it?

I mulch the top and water often in summer, but in winter keep these guys on the dry side. I actually place a large plastic trash bag over my raised bed soil so that water does not settle during our 'cold months'. Not really that cold in Phoenix in the winter but for Papaya it is. Real prone to root rot.

When/if we do happen to hit 32, you can cover it and provide a heat source under a frost cloth. Or, just blow a strong fan on the foliage if it is too big to cover. Extremely cold sensitive so this is occasionally a must for Papayas here in Phoenix.

Positive anomina On Sep 29, 2003, anomina from Bradenton, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Papaya is an enthusiastic grower in Bradenton, Florida (U.S.) where we have sandy soil, so a bit of fertilizer is a help.

I don't care for the fruit and give it to those who do, but I keep the tree for its fragrance which is delightful. This year (2003) I had 50 or so good size fruits which over-filled 5 grocery sacks.

We get an occasional freeze, but not long lasting. I find that the tree freezes back and then starts out anew from the trunk stub left after the freeze, where it will branch out and form an umbrella. If it gets too tall, cut it back and it will branch.

Take the fruit off the tree before it ripens fully, or you have falling fruit which can be very messy as it splatters and bursts on contact the ground.

Positive Thaumaturgist On Sep 24, 2003, Thaumaturgist from Rockledge, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Papaya (Carica papaya) trees are one of the most common sights in Florida and elsewhere in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

A member of the family Caricaceae, Papaya is believed to be a native of tropical America extending from Southern Mexico to Central America. It traveled south with the Indians, and to the Caribbean with the Spaniards. The Spaniards are credited also for taking it to Europe.

The first major cultivar, the well known 'Solo' came to Hawaii from Barbados in 1911. Over the years, 'Solo' had been used repeatedly to breed new generations of self-pollinating Papayas. Because of large commercial Papaya plantations in Hawaii, all 'Solo' Papayas growing in Hawaii now are transgenic, (i.e., a gene had been inserted artificially to enhance resistance against Papaya’s biggest enemy, the Ringspot Virus.)

Christopher Columbus noticed that the natives in the Caribbean were capable of eating large servings of meat, poultry, fish etc. without any kind of discomfort from indigestion. The inquisitive Columbus later discovered that they were eating unripe Papaya after every meal.

That brings us to the most notable feature of Papaya, the enzyme Papain present in the Papaya latex. The most important use of Papain is as meat tenderizer.

Positive suncatcheracres On Sep 24, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I grew a very large and sweet red fruit variety from Hawaii in my yard in St. Petersburg, Florida, zone 9b, for many years. They were in a bed with Dwarf Brazilian Bananas, cannas, datura, zebra plant, copper leaf and other tropical looking plants, and we really enjoyed the fruit year after year. After winters with no frost, the plants would get really tall, but we never went more than two years without frost, and then they would die down, and I would start over from seed the next spring.

I recently discovered how people around here in northcentral Florida (Zone 8b) grow papayas. They start their seed in the fall, overwinter the seedlings in a cool greenhouse, and plant them out in mid- to late-spring, after all danger of frost is over, and have papayas to eat by the end of summer. They are treated like annuals, and they start fresh seed all over again in the fall.

Positive seanpmi On Sep 22, 2003, seanpmi from Hollywood, FL wrote:

Plants in South Florida can be male (non-fruit producing), female or both. Mine grows in sandy soil and is about 6 months old and is already 7 feet tall with over 21 fruits growing. Some are large and are taking their time in ripening.

Neutral skrsmsb On Jul 1, 2003, skrsmsb from New Orleans, LA wrote:

I have grown this plant off and on for years in my 9A garden zone. It grows like topsy here in New Orleans, Louisiana (U.S.), with a watery trunk and little density. It flowers and fruits easily, and although it needs a mate, it seems to find one in the neighborhood to send the bees and moths to.

As soon as frost comes the tree dies outright and becomes a soggy mess. It may disappear from the garden for a year or two, only to pop up in another bed and grow to ten or fifteen feet in a season. The foliage is pretty and tropical, and if you can stand it where it pops up, it is enjoyable.

The fruit is okay but not great. The plant is so frost-tender in this zone that it does not become invasive.

Neutral Monocromatico On Jun 29, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This is a dioecious small tree, so you must have both male and female individuals to produce fruits. We have those growing spontaneously in poor, acidic soils. So besides the soil, you must provide it full sun and heat. It would be good if you could keep it away from the frost and snow.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Davis, California
Hayward, California
Port Hueneme, California
Reseda, California
Sacramento, California
San Diego, California
Upland, California
Whittier, California
Bartow, Florida
Beverly Hills, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Bradley, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Casselberry, Florida
Deland, Florida
Dunnellon, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Largo, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Miami, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Newberry, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Safety Harbor, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Seffner, Florida
Venice, Florida
Winter Garden, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Winter Park, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Brunswick, Georgia
Hilo, Hawaii
Honomu, Hawaii
Kapaa, Hawaii
Kenner, Louisiana
Marrero, Louisiana
Bethesda, Maryland
Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Aransas Pass, Texas
Austin, Texas (3 reports)
Bellaire, Texas
Edinburg, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas (3 reports)
Mission, Texas (2 reports)
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

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