Papaya is a tasty tropical fruit that can become a fairly large tree in gardens in warm climates. If you don’t have a warm climate, growing papayas in pots indoors is an option. It requires some special care and adequate space, but is doable.
Papaya Indoor Plant Care
Before you tackle the task of growing a papaya tree indoors, be sure you understand its care needs and ensure you can provide them inside the home.
Papaya trees require full sun, so you should have a window that provides bright, direct sunlight for at least six to eight hours every day.
Papaya trees also require a lot of water. The container you choose should drain well, but don’t let it dry out. Keep the soil consistently moist, watering every few days.
Temperature & Humidity
As a tropical plant, papaya grown in pots will need warm temperatures and plenty of humidity. This can be hard to achieve indoors, especially in winter. Temperatures should be about 80 degrees F(27 C). Use a pebble tray and mist to keep humidity up around the tree.
Use a rich, fertile but loose potting soil. It should drain well. Too much water on the roots can lead to rotting.
Papaya trees grow fast and use a lot of nutrients. Use a balanced fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season.
Problems, Pests & Diseases
Root rot is a major problem with papayas. You can avoid this by making sure your soil and container drain well, and by not overwatering. Diseases that affect papayas include papaya ringspot virus, anthracnose, phytophthora blight, and powdery mildew.
Several pests can attack papaya trees, including mites, whitefly, fruit fly, papaya webworm. These are more of an issue outdoors, however.
How to Grow Papaya in Pots from Seed
If you think you can provide the right conditions, you can grow a papaya starting from seeds you collect from the fruits. Start with a large container, at least 15 to 20 gallons (56.7 to 75.7 L).
Let seeds from a papaya dry for a week, at least. Once dry, roll them around to remove the outer husk. Sow the seeds in a high-quality seed starting mix and keep them moist and warm. Transplant to your large container when the seedlings are a few inches (10 cm) tall.
Pruning is essential when planting papaya in pots indoors. They grow very fast and will soon hit the ceiling. Trim back the main stem as it grows. New shoots will form at the base, which you can also trim back to keep the tree at a reasonable size. Choose the strongest, healthiest stem to become the main trunk of the tree.
You might want to move your potted papaya outdoors for summer. Bring it back inside when the temperatures begin to drop below 70 degrees F (21 C). Keep it in a warm, sunny spot. If temperatures get lower than 70 or 65 F (21 or 18 C), insulate the base of the tree with plastic or bubble wrap.
Actually getting fruit can be tricky if you’re starting from seed. You can’t be sure if it is a female, male, or hermaphroditic plant. A male tree will not bear fruit and a female needs to be pollinated. If you’re lucky, you have a hermaphroditic tree that can pollinate itself. If you want to be certain you’ll get fruit, buy a potted dwarf tree to grow rather than starting from seed.
If you have a fruit-producing tree, you should have ripe papayas within six months to a year. Harvest them when they are fully yellow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Papaya Grow Well in Pots?
Papaya does grow well in pots as long as it has adequate sunlight and water and temperatures that are about 70 degrees F (21 C) or warmer.
How Long Does it Take for a Papaya Tree to Bear Fruit?
A papaya grows and bears fruit fairly quickly, in six months to about a year after planting from seed.
Why Is My Papaya Tree Not Fruiting?
Male papaya trees do not produce fruit. Female trees produce fruit, but only if pollinated. You can get fruit if you have one of each and cross pollinate them. If you get a hermaphrodite plant, it will pollinate itself.
You won’t necessarily get fruit from an indoor potted papaya unless you choose the sex of the plants. Even if you grow from seed and never get fruit, this is a fast-growing, attractive plant that provides a cool tropical feel to any indoor space.