Although unmistakably exotic fruit, Papaya trees can be successfully grown here in the UK. The plants are hardy, and can be grown outside in Southern parts of the UK with some care.
About Papaya Trees
Papaya trees produce melon-like papaya fruit which start green, turn to yellow, and finish orange. The white or yellow flowers can develop any time throughout the year and these grow directly from the tree trunk itself. The large ornamental leaves make this tree a pleasure to look at and you can also grow these successfully in pots. They grow up to around 4 metres in height and are fully grown within a year or two.
Although widely grown in warmer climates, papaya plants are UK winter-hardy and can withstand temperatures as low as 0°C. Anything below freezing and you will need to offer further protection such as a conservatory or greenhouse.
How To Grow Papaya Trees in the UK
Papaya plants are popular with gardeners for ornamental value and hardiness to the UK climate. However, they also produce fruit that is sweet-tasting and full of goodness. Read our growing tips below.
- It’s important to keep your plant indoors if you purchase it over winter or early spring. Once the threat of frost has passed you can plant your papaya tree outdoors. Bring indoors during the winter months.
- Plant your papaya into a pot if you prefer. This makes moving locations in winter more manageable. When outdoors, your plant needs lots of direct sun and should be west or south-facing. It’s also important your papaya has some shelter from harsh winds.
- In the right conditions with plenty of warm sunny weather, your papaya tree will produce fruit quickly. This can be within one year in ideal circumstances but any prolonged cold weather can kill it. You can expect to see fruit in the summer months, ready to be picked in the autumn. These fruits will continue to mature once picked as well.
- Perhaps some welcome news to those of you with busy, fast-paced lives – no pruning is required of your papaya tree. They don’t produce branches so you can leave it be to do its own thing.
- Papaya trees need a fair amount of water, especially when first planted and during warm weather. Be careful to get the balance right because too much water can cause root rot. Your papaya tree will also benefit from some organic matter around its base.
- Soil should be loose and moist with good drainage too. Make sure there are no rocks within the soil as this will hinder root growth.
- These trees come in three sexes – male, female, and hermaphrodite. If your space is limited then make sure you choose a self-fertile papaya tree.
About Papaya Fruit
Papayas are easy to grow, even in the UK and are also rapid growers, often producing fruit before it’s a year old. Papaya is native to Mexico and parts of America but is also widely grown in the Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, and other tropical and subtropical climates. It became popular in the UK once it was considered a hardy plant and is often grown in pots on balconies and borders.
Did You Know?
- Papaya trees live fast and die young. You will get a fruit crop early on but these trees only last around 4 years and then need replacing.
- These trees don’t have a trunk as such, just a single stem on which the papaya grows directly.
- Papaya is known to aid digestion and is also used to treat burns in some cultures.
- Papaya is an ingredient used in some chewing gums.
- It is said that giving papaya as a gift to someone signifies a secret message of love and protection.
Papaya trees are one of the least complex exotic plant species there is but that doesn’t mean you don’t have unanswered questions. We answer common questions on this fruit tree below.
A papaya tree will grow anywhere between 2.5 metres and 4 metres in height with a spread of the same dimensions.
One of the quicker trees to produce fruit, you may see your first crop within the first year. After three to four years this supply will dwindle until nothing is produced at all and the tree will need replacing.
If you choose one of the non-self-fertile varieties then yes you will need two. However, you can buy self-fertile ones in the UK.
Papaya trees are evergreen so they retain their leaves from one season into the next.