Growing Papayas in Zone 8b?

GloxiniaLoverJanuary 25, 2012

I got some papaya seeds in hawaii, and when i got home i researched them(hawaiian papayas), and found out they are the least cold-tolerant of all papayas! :( So they cant be outdoors during the winter? If not, is it possible to keep them short and in pots indoors? I dont have a greenhouse. Can they produce in their first year? Mostly im just wondering, is it possible to grow them here? zone 8b/seattle washington


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Papayas should do really well for you in a zone 8b. Plant a few seeds now and then save a few for spring (just in case something happens to the ones you start indoors). They are really easy to germinate when its warm outside and they arent too difficult to germinate indoors either, but they will need a sunny and warm spot.
I got a papaya off of ebay last year as a 1 foot tall tall plant and it was making flower buds by August. They grow very fast. I had mine in the ground and dug it up and potted it up to go indoors during the winter. You can plant yours in a nursury pot and then submerge the nursury pot into the ground so that way it has some room to grow, but when you dig it up, you get most of the root ball.
They do reasonably well indoors by a sunny window.

Its also important to know that only Female plants fruit and you need a male plant to pollionate it. That means you will need to have several papaya plants in order for one to make fruit (unless you are lucky and have a rare papaya that is both male and female).

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 12:46AM
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Thanks! Ill try that! Did you plant get very tall?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:07PM
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Papayas are probably the easiest tropical fruit to grow in a container. I do winter mine over in a greenhouse but they do ok indoors as well, as long as you have sufficient light. Some varieties will produce the first season. You can also look for hermaphrodite varieties so you don't have to worry about growing male and female plants. I haven't found that mine get much over 6-7' but have seen them grow much taller in tropical zones.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 3:43PM
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It got to 5 1/2 feet tall last summer (from soil to top of trunk) for me and Im hoping that it gets even bigger than that this summer! It grows a good 5 feet of trunk a year in temperate climates with hot summers. In the Tropics they get very tall, usually they are the biggest plants in the neighborhood in tropical regions!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 8:55PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Are they the red or yellow fleshed variety?? Doesn't really matter too much as the culture is about the same .
They do get rather tall (mine are over 20 feet) They tend to grow unbranched so difficult to keep them short.
They are very cold sensitive and the fruit is slow to develop. They do come in male and female plants so cross polination is necessary Hawaii has been having a tough time with a virus and are now growing geneticly altered types for resistance so I'll bet you have one of those.??
I don't have the virus (YET) lol But do have papaya wasp. Drills a hole in the skin and lays eggs. Nothing as appetizing as cutting open a gorgeous fruit and having it crawling with maggots!! They are VERY easy to grow from seed and even if you don't get any fruit they are a beautiful plant!!! Good luck gary

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 4:24AM
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Thanks everybody! Does anybody know the days to germination? I tried to look it up and didnt find any direct answers anywhere. Also, i bought a papaya at like costco or something and saved the seeds, removing the outer gel-cover and am currently drying them on a paper towl. On the sticker it said product of mexico. Do you think this could be a mexican papaya? Is there a difference in fruit appearance?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 9:22PM
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I think it might be a mexican papaya, as it was long and not pear shaped like the hawaiian ones i saw on google images

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 9:24PM
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They germinate in 1-2 weeks for me, usually more like 2 weeks indoors and sometimes a week or less outdoors. I heard somewhere that Hawaiian Papayas store bought will not germinate from seed (not sure why), but Mexican Papayas should. I dont know any physical differences between the 2.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 2:58AM
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Some varieties will produce a higher percentage of hermaphodites then others. Supposedly Red Maradol and Gold Maradol F1 hybrid seeds will produce 66% hermaphrodites. Unless you have a lot of space I'd choose a variety that produces a higher percent of hermaphodites. It sucks when you wait and end up with all male plants though it doesn't sound as bad as a fruit full of papaya wasp larvae, yuck! I've heard that a male plant can sometimes be changed into a female by topping but I've never tried it.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 12:54PM
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hm, interesting! Good thing i got a mexican papaya! The topping method sounds interesting, ill see if i can read up on that!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:53PM
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Hi. I'm the newbie on the block. I grew papaya for the first time last year. I knew that Winter would kill it, but I was hoping to get some fruit ripened before frost. It didn't happen. I grew Red Queen from seed: planted indoors in the fall and transplanted to the garden in Spring. The trees grew to nearly 20' tall and were covered with fruit - all were male and female. Since they were so huge, I couldn't even attempt to dig them up and move them. The trunks at the base were 10" across! Trying again this year with Red Maradol. Likely I'll keep them in containers so I can move them in before frost. Greenhouse plans in the near future should take care of these issues. BTW, germination was 3 to 5 weeks indoors with bottom heat.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 8:21AM
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I grew Maradol papaya and also strawberry papaya and as you all say the cold gets them every time! right now I am overwintering one lonely papaya so I hope it makes it thru the winter, I have her in an unheated room- homemade green house so it remains to be seen if it makes it but if it does not I will replant again next week just in case. M.N.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 12:05PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

I am in a 9a and got them to fruit in my yard. I have no clue what this variety was, it was 3 in a pot that I bought at a big box store on clearance because they lost their tag lol. Anyhow I do grow some dwarfs from seed that I bought at aloha seeds but I think the large ones look so cool and just add such a tropical look to the landscape.
These were crammed together 3 in one small pot. I had heard they are picky about their roots being disturbed but I separated them and planted them near each other and they seemed not to mind.
#1 Before putting them in the ground

After one season in ground

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 4:30PM
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You might consider a Babaco (Mountain papaya). It does very well in a container. The fruit is seedless so it can only be propagated by cuttings. It bears fruit at a very small size. Mine produced fruit when it was under 2'. It actually produced several fruit but since it was so small I thinned it to one. Unfortunately I had a little accident and knocked the fruit off. I was PO'd because I've never tasted it and it would have been ripe in a couple weeks.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 9:12PM
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Interesting. I never heard of a Babaco; and seedless really seems different for a papaya. Where did you get your start from? Anything else different about this variety?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 4:53AM
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It's very similar looking to the papaya and is more cold tolerant but must still be protected from frost. It's a high altitude plant but did very well in the heat over the summer here. The taste is supposed to be a bit different, milder then a regular papaya, with hints of strawberry and pineapple. The mature fruit is 8-12" long and has a pentagonal shape. The skin is also edible. It turns from green to yellow when ripe. It does produce side shoots which are removed except for 1 that you allow to grow to replace the main stem after a few years. The old stem can then be removed and cut into sections for rooting. I'm actually rooting one now and it seems to be fairly easy to do. My fruit was about 9" when I knocked it off and still very green. I cut it open and the flesh was white. At that point it had almost no taste. Hopefully I'll get to try one this year. I got mine from CA. I think that's about the only place they are widely available. I've seen them on Ebay from one seller and he was getting up to $100 for a cutting!!! I got 2, one from a friend that sent me a cutting and the other a different friend picked up at a nursey for under $20 for a 1 gal plant, both from CA.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 7:30AM
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I have 2 Red Lady and 3 Sun Gold F1 seedlings. Seeds was stared last September. The seedlings grow very slow in the winter. They will be planted in ground next month. I have read Red Lady Papaya is excellent in taste when ripe on tree. I hope I can get at least one ripe fruit from each variety by winter.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 2:55PM
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Good luck. I thought the same thing last year with my Red Queen; but as fate would have it I got frosted before the fruit matured. I tried to ripen it inside in bags, but it just molded. I've been told that you cannot ripen them off the tree unless there is already some color showing.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 4:46PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Nice pics. They should grow quickly when you get them into the ground.
I really like the Red Lady Papaya. It does well here. I get most of my papaya seeds from Aloha Seed for the last 3 years. They sent my last batch from Calif. to Fl in 2 days. I saw on my order that they processed it and sent it out in the same afternoon!! I always get good germination from their seeds. This year I ordered Red Queen (large fruited variety), Solo Sunrise Improved, Solo Sunset, Waimanalu X-77, and Red Lady #786
I have a bunch of seedlings from last year that should fruit this year hopefully plus some more plants that I bought.
FYI some of the Walmarts are selling Red Lady Papaya plants in 1&1/2 gal size along with their blueberries and figs for around $5.50 The brand name is Basket of Berries (that is what is printed on the pots anyway). There will be a tag on the plant saying Red Lady Papaya. Not sure if they will have other varieties papayas or not but found several good named varieties of bananas for 7.50 each as well. I guess the bananas and papayas are getting to be more mainstream now.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 7:44PM
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