Papaya Tree Suggestions

bookwyrme(9)March 28, 2012

I'm hoping to try papaya here in Southern California.

Is there something people here would suggest? I'm looking for something self-fertile & ideally smallish, as this is a suburban yard.


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I have a Solo type planted in my yard, I've had it for about half a year and there are flowers on it now. Its supposed to grow not as tall as some other varieties.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Buying a tree is in my experience a gamble, far more than growing your own. I planted several varieties and of them all a "caribbean red" had the best fruit, and is the most productive. The "solo", "sunset solo", "red lady" were smaller trees, and of the three only the solo and sunrise bore fruit which were small and not as sweet as the Carib red.

I never read of a "Carib red" anywhere, I bought it in a supermarket and am glad I did. If you want to try growing your own I'll send you some seeds.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 5:09PM
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Papaya with the "Caribbean Red" sticker (usually only on the East coast of US) are more than likely Maradol papaya imported from Belize. Maradol payapa sold on the West coast of the US are most likely imported from Mexico.
The sticker has a PLU code, a 4 digit number (3112 for Caribbean Red papaya)you can look it on on the link.

We were in Northern Central Florida awhile back and bought a papaya called "Royal Star papaya" from a produce stand that was excellent, much better than the CR that I have tasted. The Royal Star is some natural hybrid and a proprietary seed, variety grown down in the West coast of Mexico, according to their website


Here is a link that might be useful: PLU search

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 1:59PM
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newgen(9 Central California)

I got 2 T.R. Hovey dwarf papayas a few weeks ago, they're supposed to be productive within a year, and are very short, in container if you want. Google that name. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 7:14PM
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newgen, can you spare some seeds once your TR Hoveys fruit for you?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 8:48PM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

Me too, Newgen - my little plants are in the ground and sprouting new leaves....Rodney - if I beat Newgen in the seed race, I'll send you some....we'll see if they fruit to edibility within a year....them's some big claims....


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 7:10PM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

... not to hijack this thread - this is my Lowes Mexican Papaya after being in the ground almost 2 years exactly. Not real sweet but good cold - this one was 3 1/2 pounds.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 7:15PM
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Man-Go-Bananas(Zone 9)

Nice tree mangodog! I will (hopefully) upload a picture of my papaya tomorrow when the sun is out.

Suggestion: Grow it in WELL DRAINING soil in a SUNNY spot. When I gave these two things to my papaya, it quickly outgrew its old spot. Also, papayas like nitrogen. I gave mine some Ammonium Sulphate (21-0-0) and it really took off.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 10:19PM
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Get some seeds from Alohaseed, they have small packets of certified seeds. Hybrids ( Not to be mistaken for GMO ) like the Red Lady, are very sweet and productive, and they are also PRSV resistant. they are located in El Centro, CA.

there are other varieties available also, when using seed from store bought fruit, if the original fruit was a hybrid, the seedlings wont come up the same.

also if the farm where they grew these fruit was using male pollinators instead of all hermaphrodite, there is a chance you will get a male tree.

So i recommend seeds from a supplier. I am sure there are other good sources, I only mentioned Alohaseed because i have purchased from them.

a tip if you do use a store bought fruit for seed, take the seeds from a elongated fruit, not the roundish ones. elongated fruit come from a hermaphrodite parent. where the round ones come from females.
female trees need a pollinator, where hermaphrodites, can pollinate themselves and other female trees, sounds kinky I know. but you have a better chance of having a hermaphrodite papaya tree if you take seeds from a fruit that came from one.

Commercially, Hermaphrodites are preferred and farmers will plant more than one tree in a location, removing the females once they flower, reason is, 1) elongated fruit are preferred by buyers, 2) Herm, trees produce less fruit, becouse the rounder fruit take up more space on the trunk 3) same reason for shipping, round fruits make them bulkier, and take up more space for the same amount of weight.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 10:28PM
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That's a beautiful papaya tree, Mangodog!

I'm wondering what to do with the papaya tree after you harvest the fruit. Papaya trees are short-lived I read. Is it possible to cut it off at the top and have it grow suckers beneath?

Bookwyrme, the climate in SoCal should be very good for papayas. Solo type papayas are one of the lower bearing varieties that are also self-fertile. But as Gnappi stated, they may not be as sweet as other varieties.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 6:40PM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

Actually, FruitCally, Papayas can live a long time - it's just that many of those in tropical countries with year round growing find that they produce fruit so fast and throughout the year that they simply re-seed them all the time. However, because my fruits take about 10-11 months to ripen since they were formed, I am not likely to cut them back until maybe they get out of reach - maybe 12-15 feet high or so, and then I'll cut the heads off and they will branch and continue to fruit, though I've heard the older the plant gets the less tasty the fruit is...

we'll just have to see....

thsts my take on growing them anyway....

Don't forget, it's been about 2 years from a two foot plant to the first edible fruit..that's much longer than it takes for them to produce in the tropics...


    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:05PM
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Mangodog, thanks! Those are very good points you've made. I think that's a great idea to cut them back and let them branch off for additional fruits.

Our papaya trees are still young so only time will tell how best to grow them in the home garden. And you're absolutely right, they do take quite a while from planting to fruiting.

We'd love to see updates from your papaya trees in the future.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:52PM
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Commercially papaya trees are only allowed to grow, 2-3 years, and then are replaced 1- because , unlike most other fruit trees, Papayas produce the heaviest crop the first year they produce, every year after that they become less productive. 2- because after 3 years they become more difficult to harvest because of height, and 3- More susceptible to falling over due to winds.

Its possible to get fruit from seed in as little as 9 months.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 3:22AM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

Will do FruitCally...

and tropicdude - cannot get fruit in less than 2 years from seed in SoCal because of the cool winter nights where growth slows to a crawl - my experience anyway - unless there is a variety out there that is super early with its fruit production


    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:37PM
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I love Papaya and had no idea they grew in Ca. I have a volenter tree thats been growing between two buildings for about 5 years, and is now 15 feet.. its had fruit for several years but this is the first year that i have been in town for a harvest, the fruit is excellent, have taken about a dozen and there are a dozen more on the tree maturing, there are 4 or 5 good sized suckers. Since its doing so well should i leave it be or top it ? The height is not a problem, dont think the wind will topple it as its well protected, i use an aluminium ladder against the trunk which is about 9-10 inches diameter at the ground.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 12:41AM
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Hello I'm 14 and I have over 7 fruit trees one of them is a tr hovey can anyone tell me more about it?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 12:31AM
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Hi Cameron
congratulations on your tree.
Papaya is my favorite fruit. It is VERY healthy for you, it has an enzyme that helps digest proteins.

Anyway, as far as growing.
Papaya love the sunshine, the more the better.
They do NOT like cold weather.
anything below freezing can kill them.
even temps in the 40s can hurt/kill them if the roots are wet.
Papaya grow fast and like a lot of organics in the soil. Well rotted compost, composted coffee grounds etc

You can feed them regular fertilizers as well. One higher in nitrogen when they are growing. lower in Nitrogen when they are fruiting.

They like fast draining soil, and its better to try and water them away from the main trunk. They get "root rot" very easily

The TR Hovey is a dwarf and shouldnt get very tall, which makes it good for containers, so you can bring it inside or protect it on very cold days.

good luck. its a great plant!

Here is a link that might be useful: growing papaya

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 9:14AM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

greenman - my TR Hovey is about 2 years old and over 8 feet in height! Cameron - I live out in Palm Springs and the fruit I have out here on the tree, the TR Hovey, is huge. Must be 4 pounds at least.

Just remember to not let the base of the plant stay wet in the winter. Cold and wet HATES these plants and will kill them. It's always better with Papaya to plant them on a mound and create a moat around them where they can get water.....
Let me see if I can post a picture here in the next day or two to show you how it looks...
GOOD LUCK.....Gary

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 12:19AM
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i Gary
sorry for the late reply
I am actually curious about your TR Hovey. How does the fruit taste ?

I have(had?) several large trees, all from store-bought fruit.
Maradol, or Maradol hybrids i am guessing.
The fruit is very good, but i am experimenting with 8 different types of seed.

This winter took a real toll on my trees, some 15+ ft tall
the roots on most still seem OK, i had pulled up 2 of them, but everything over 1ft off the ground turned to mush.
i will chop it off and hope they regrow...

I plan on doing some cross-pollination when these get a bit bigger.

I have been prepping the soil and raising it a bit too

Do you have some extra TR Hovey seed ?
I have lots of stuff to trade...

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 2:17PM
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I've been collecting kitchen prep vegetable choppings from my favorite Thai restaurant to use in my compost barrel. About 4 yrs ago, out pops a dozen papaya seedlings, of which i have kept 6. Now I have large fruit on 3 of the them, but much to my surprise, no seeds after 2 yrs of waiting for them to ripen. Some of the fruit is 'deflated' but appears healthy, most are oblong
I live in zone 9-10 or sunset 22with sandy loamy soil composted 1-2/year.
IS there a way short of genetic testing to confirm which plants are male vs female. I think i need a 'bull' plant much like the sweet date palm for my girls.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 1:08PM
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Brad - now I'm sorry for the late reply. Well, just had my first TR Hovey fruit about 6 weeks ago. I might have let it stay on the tree a little too long as the flesh seem a little too soft, but my friend I gave some too really like it. I thought it had a bit of a perfumy taste (if you can kind of imagine that).

Anyway, I've got another one ripening now - maybe ready in another week or so. I can send you come of its seeds if you like....

Let me know....My.Am.Dog

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 11:48PM
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i actually found one at the local nursery
it was marked down to $12 and was in need of a larger pot and a home
it is doing really well now
its the tall one to the left of the chair.
must be over 4ft
and has small fruit starting already
(very small)
but , still a good sign

thanks anyway. good luck

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 3:09PM
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mangodog(palm springs 9B)

Yeah I see it. Like I think I said to you or someone,
this was not a dwarf papaya for me. The 2 plants are now 11 feet and growing!

Anyway - Good luck to you, Brad!

Oh - here is my TR Hovey (yellow) fruit next to a Mexican....


    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 5:58PM
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For Papaya, I found any fruits left on the tree over the winter cold days would taste terrible. If you have mature green fruits going into cold winter, better to pick them off and make with chicken soup than wait for ripen in Spring.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 8:20PM
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Not me Sapote, mine were very good!


    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 11:37PM
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My overwintered fruit that finally ripened is a bit bland, but I attributed that to their lack of seeds (no males around to complete these ladies). I have one that will be frozen in chunks and the other dehydrated to make rather good fruit chips. Ripened is best as I am not fond of green fruit in general.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 10:44AM
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Interesting MangoDog. I guess it depends on how cold it was. When it's cold enough for the green papaya fruits to discharge the white latex like liquid on its skin, I found it had no taste when ripen. Had you seen the discharged latex?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 9:57PM
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Sapote - I've seen pinpoints of the white latex that dry on the outer skin of the fruit, and if I've accidentally cut one, it drips the latex. Does it do it in the winter time? I think so...

And I can't compare the flavour to a NON-OVERWINTERED papaya, because I've never had one form and ripen in the same calendar year. I really don't think they can do that here in Southern Cal, but I'm not sure...


    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 11:33PM
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Here is a photo of my red lady papaya that I bought in June. Said it was self pollinating so got fruits right away. Took most of the branches off to give it more sun to ripen. Hopefully it ripens soon.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 12:16AM
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BahamaDan ZTropic

Hi Sueanne75, lovely papaya trees along with the others.

Just want to point out to you that it is the leaves that use the sun and not the papayas themselves, and by taking off more leaves you're actually extending the time they will take to ripen. Best to leave them on as they will make more energy for the plant and ripen the fruit faster. The papaya fruit themselves don't require sunlight on them to ripen, they get their food from what the leaves make :)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2015 at 12:22PM
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BahamaDan is a wise man....

M.A. Doggie

    Bookmark   January 6, 2015 at 5:05PM
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BahamaDan ZTropic

Thank you very much M. A. Doggie; just trying to share the knowledge I have gratefully learned from the helpful comments of you and other on this forum and through personal research and gardening experience.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2015 at 6:03PM
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agree with BahamaDan also.

you will want to leave as many leaves on it as possible
the more leaf-area exposed to the sun the better
some think the fruit is sweeter tasting with more leaves and sun also.
Just looking at your pic, i would add a lot of mulch to the ground near the plant
keep it an inch or 2 away from the trunk though.
if a lot of mulch is touching the trunk,when its wet, it can cause problems.
i would mulch till the drip-line
about 3ft i a circle around the plant.
leaves, grass clippings etc... are fine
wood chips are even better.
compost even better...

a few coffee grounds are great too, they attract worms,
and papaya love worm castings.
i get 50-80 lb of grounds from starbucks every couple of weeks

    Bookmark   January 7, 2015 at 1:40PM
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The papaya are still getting big on top plus hardy leaves.. Been feeding it pureed rinds from my fruit when making smoothies plus coffee grinds and eggshell crushed. Seems to keep the tree happy. Do turn it in with dirt from around the outer edge.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2015 at 10:02PM
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BahamaDan ZTropic

Looks really good! Keep up the good work :)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 8:55PM
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it looks healthy and those are great amendments,
but, mulching around the trunk gives the added benefit
of keeping water in and weeds down.
the weeds may not appear to be a huge problem,
but, they do take some of the water and nutrients away from the plant.
and mulch keeps the sun from burning the tops of any roots
that are on the surface as well.

the best way would be to take the smoothie refuse, coffee grounds, fruit peels etc...
and compost them all (with some dry grass or leaves)...
it takes a little more work
but, the raw materials could take away a little of the nitrogen to break them down

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 10:44AM
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