is an evergreen big shrub or small tree for the tropical or subtropical
landscape. Grows best in full sun to light shade. Soil should
have excellent drainage and be rich with plenty of humus or compost.
These tropicals like warmth and the more the better but should
be kept on the dry side in the cool, cold winter months (treat
them like cacti). You will need a female and a male plant to
produce fruit, although sometime both sexes are present on the
same plant. Fruit taste better when allowed to ripen in the heat
of the summer months, especially when temperatures are in the
high 80°s or better. Carica likes lots of water and
fertilizer in warm weather. Papaya can be grown in a heated greenhouse
up north. Plant them in large tubs or containers, keep warm in
the winter, and move them outside during the summer months to
give them some fresh air. Minimum low temperature about 28°F
or slightly lower with day time temperatures above freezing and
remember papaya do not like frost!
There are many Carica papaya cultivars
and a few species worth mentioning, Dr. Moi of the San Antonio
Botanical Gardens, has developed one such cultivar (hybrid) that
will produce ripe fruit within a San Antonio growing season,
and it is quite hardy, but still requires lots of summer heat
to grow and produce fruit.
The success of Carica depends on
several factors, such as, papaya needs full sun or very little
shade, excellent drainage and again warmth. Failure is usually
from root rot, especially when planted in cold wet soil. By planting
on the south side and close to a building, where plants can benefit
from reflected heat, can really make a difference in the way
it grows and produces fruit.
Other species of Carica are; C.
heilbornii, sometimes sold a C. pentagona, (Bush melon
of the Andes). This is a dwarf, seedless (4-7 feet tall) plant,
and the fruit having the flavor of a honeydew and lime. This
may prove to be a much hardier papaya, although one must have
a cutting or a plant to start with. Carica pubescens (Mountain
Papaya), is a large shrub that grows to 10-12 feet and it's fruit
must be cooked before eaten. Male and female flowers are needed
to produce fruit. Somewhat tropical in its requirements.