Papayas are not your average houseplant, which makes them an ideal candidate for indoor growing. Indoor environments don’t offer enough space to grow plants with the size needed to produce fruits – but that doesn’t mean you can’t grow these beautiful fruits; just know that the produce won’t be edible! One supermarket papaya can produce many seeds which appear black; these germinate within two weeks and reach flowering maturity within 5-6 months if left uncut. Some varieties may reach their peak before year end!
Can You Grow Papaya Indoors?
Papaya tree thrive in similar conditions as bananas, needing high levels of humidity, heat and plenty of fertilizer and water. Similar to bananas, papayas grow quickly and become semi-woody plants with large leaves that encapsulate the tropical atmosphere. While growing this tropical beauty outdoors is preferable, indoor cultivation is possible provided you have enough space and a big container. For optimal growth, make sure the container has ample sunlight exposure.
How to Grow Papaya Indoors
Growing papaya can be done indoors using several techniques.
Make sure your plant receives full sunlight for 6-8 hours each day to promote optimal development, or as much sun as you are able to provide it. Rotating the pot occasionally will ensure that your papayas grow straight in its pot without leaning too far left or right. Papayas make excellent shade-loving patio plants during summertime when temperatures tend towards being in the 90’s.
Temperature and Humidity
Papaya plants need warm temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If you want to keep the plant during winter months, make sure its temperatures stay as high as possible with high humidity; they won’t survive being kept indoors in a window.
In warmer regions, potted papayas can be grown on patios. Unfortunately, they will not thrive below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Plants require an abundance of water. As your plant grows, be sure to water it thoroughly but avoid overwatering the top layer of soil.
Make sure your papaya plant gets plenty of love! Papayas are rapidly expanding plants and need plenty of nutrients to stay strong. Use organic fertilizer regularly for best results.
Pruning and Maintaining Papaya Plants
Papaya plants in indoor gardens grow so rapidly that they could reach for the sky within a few months. To control their height, cut away at their topmost branch until it reaches two or more feet high. Once that point, multiple new shoots will sprout from beneath it – choose which one or two feet is best and trim away any others including the central stem that was originally planted.
If you’ve moved a papaya plant indoors during the summer months, be sure to significantly trim back its leaves before bringing it indoors for the cooler months.
Container and Size
Papaya plants grow to be quite large, so to start you should start with a container of 15 to 20 gallons with an 18 inch minimum diameter. An oversized pot made from an antique barrel or bucket would also work well.
Potting Soil and Drainage
When growing indoors, use an open, well-drained pot mix. Too dense of a soil can lead to root rot issues; additionally, deficient drainage may wreak havoc on plants.
Potting and Repotting Papaya
Papaya plants that are started from seeds only need to be repotted once, from their original container into a permanent one. If you are outside USDA Zone 9 or higher, this is considered an annual novelty plant and can only be done so once. Once finished with the season, cut off any papayas at ground level and let any remaining shoots continue growing naturally.
Enjoying Papaya Outdoors for Summer Dining
Papaya can thrive in extreme humidity and heat. It also thrives outdoors during the summer months, so there’s no need to adapt the plant as it will be able to handle the extreme temperatures without issue.
There are no specific regulations for the plant itself, but keep in mind that papaya plants tend to get heavier as they age. Be cautious when moving the pot.
When to Bring Papaya Back Inside
Once temperatures drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime, it’s time for plants to come inside. Place it in a bright and comfortable location throughout the winter; if the place isn’t warm enough for your papaya tree (65-70 degrees Fahrenheit), cover its base with aluminum foil or bubble wrap as protection from frost damage.