Papaya trees grow up to 33 feet tall and live for about 20 years. They grow well in loamy, sandy and rocky terrains, preferring well-draining soils. With a love for full sun, papaya plants should be kept 10 to 20 feet from buildings, other plants and power lines. As you maintain these trees, pruning can take a backseat to watering and fertilizing. Papaya plants are not traditionally pruned, but the trees do benefit from some training, pinching and trimming.
Identify one or two of the healthiest and most vigorous shoots on young papaya trees; leave these intact. Prune the others at the point where they meet the tree trunk. This will encourage new growth and fruiting.
Pinch the seedlings to encourage bushier growth. Take the end of each stem between your thumb and forefinger, and snap it off.
Cut back mature papaya trees to promote the growth of multiple trunks. Climb the ladder and look over the entire canopy. Make pruning cuts to the outside of buds. Target straggly and unproductive branches.
Remove dead leaves. Cut them or pinch them off where they touch the branches. This will reduce scarring of the fruit, disease and insect problems.
Trim off diseased, dead or weak branches. They will not produce quality fruit or be able to handle the fruit load. Cut them off where they grow from healthy wood.