Papayas are beautiful trees to grow however they are a large tree and can grow to over 30 feet tall which is not ideal when it comes to harvest time.
When you eat papaya there are that many seeds inside you really should give it a go to grow your own tree.
There are a number of things you can do to keep your papaya tree a more manageable size and in this article, I am going to tell you how to shorten a papaya tree so that it stays more like dwarf size.
I have always found it is a better idea to keep your papaya short and more like a shrub than allowing it to grow up to a full sized tree.
To shorten a papaya tree simply cut the top inch off of your tree. You should do this every time your tree grows 5 inches. In young seedlings, this will result in a thicker trunk and in older trees, it will result in more branches growing out the side rather than upwards growth.
This video shows exactly how to dwarf a papaya tree by using this pruning method:
Why Top your papaya to keep it short
Topping a papaya tree is an advanced form of pruning and it is exactly what it sounds like you cut the top of your papaya tree to keep it short.
Chopping the top of your papaya tree will also mean you end up with a healthier tree as every time you prune it in this way the trunk of your tree will end up growing thicker and this is always a benefit for a healthy tree compared to one with a thin trunk that looks like the wind could blow it over and snap it.
If you are growing a papaya tree in a container then it is vital that you do prune your tree in this way as it will help keep your papaya tree dwarf and a good size for growing in containers.
If you are growing your papaya tree in the ground you should still use this method as it is a lot easier to harvest your papaya off your tree when it is in arms reach and not way up high in a tall tree.
How often should you top your Papaya tree
There is no exact time scale of when to prune your papaya tree as they all grow at different speeds depending on the climate that you live in, what fertilizer you use and many other variables.
The easiest way to decide when to top your papaya tree is to measure its growth, I top my papaya tree every time it grows 5 inches and I have found over the years this is the perfect way to do it.
If you live somewhere that has a cooler climate during the winter months you might want to stop this method over the winter and only do it during the summer months as when you cut a tree you want it to be in a growing period so that it can quickly recover.
You should continue this method throughout the life of your papaya tree as if you stop doing it there is a possibility it will just sprout up the way and could possibly turn into a massive tree depending on the variety.
How to top your papaya tree
When you are pruning your papaya tree you should always use disinfected, sharp and clean sheers as using dirty sheers to chop a tree is one of the easiest ways to transfer disease.
When you cut the top off your tree you effectively make it just like an open wound so you should treat your tree just like a human and you would never use dirty instruments anywhere near an open wound on a human as obviously this could easily cause disease and infection.
I have advised you to top your papaya tree every time it grows 5 inches but this does not mean you cut the top 5 inches off as this would mean your papaya tree never gets any taller and we do want it to get taller when it is a seedling but just keep it manageable.
All you do when it is time to prune your papaya tree is chop the very top of your tree off so this is maybe the top 1 or 2 inches.
When you do this the papaya tree will then transfer all of its growing energy from growing up the way to making the trunk healthy and growing out the way.
When your tree is still relatively young most of the energy will go into making the trunk thicker but as your tree gets older and you continue the topping method you will notice more shoots start to grow out the way.
If you want to read my full guide on growing papaya Click Here.
Choose a dwarf variety of papaya
If you have decided to grow a papaya tree from a seed out of a papaya that you have bought in the store then you would know what variety or type of tree it has come from and you will just have to go for it see what happens and prune it correctly to keep it at the desired size.
If you are buying seeds out of a seed store to grow your papaya then you should be careful what variety you choose as choosing a dwarf variety is half of the battle when it comes to keeping your papaya tree small.
With regular pruning, you can basically keep any tree down to a smaller size.
The hint is in the name it’s called a dwarf variety for a reason and a dwarf variety of tree should grow to be a smaller version of its full-sized counterpart.