Fruiting Papaya in zone 5/6

hueytlatoaniAugust 6, 2008

Posted this in Tropicalesque gardens, but realized it was also appropriate here.

zone 6a/5b Papayas

Hello. I notice alot of people on these forums growing bananas outside of the tropics (as do I) but not so many growing papaya-which I think is kind of a shame. About 10 years ago I grew my first papaya in a pot, and it made it to about 2 feet in height before it died. Since then I have tried several more times, and finaly hit the proverbial jackpot-I grew and ate my first zone 5 papaya-and it was every bit as good as the ones I've eaten in the tropics of Costa Rica.

Bananas are alot of fun to grow, but it's highly unlikely that someone in my zone would ever be able to produce a crop of properly ripened fruit. I decided why not, and planted some papayas just to see what they would do. I started them in march of '07, by a south facing window. I got the seeds out of a maradol papaya from an oriental grocery. I planted them in small kitchen trashcans in a mixture of 50/50 turface MVP and horticultural grade vermiculite. When frost danger had passed, I moved them outside to an area with partial sun, along a south wall.

In early summer I clipped off all but the strongest seedling in each pot. By the middle of the summer, when flowers were produced, I was able to thin down again, to a single hermephrodite. That summer, it put on lots of flowers, and made it to a height of around 3 feet. I brought it inside in the first week of september, and kept it by a south window. Every time a flower fell, it left a small fruit, which would fall after a few days-until one fruit in november stayed on the plant. The tree got lots of spider mites in the winter, and had to be sprayed with soap repeatedly. By spring, it only had 3 small leaves left-and a six inch green fruit hanging to the stem for dear life.

When I put it outside, the fruit just kept hanging there, new leaves formed, and eventually in early july, the fruit turned a glorious red and orange, softened, and my wife and I made a little party of eating it. It wasn't the biggest papaya in the world, but it was sweet and musky. Now the tree has put on two more fruits, which are rapidly expanding. Hopefully, I'll be able to eat them before it gets cold enough to stop their ripening. By the way, the tree is now around 4 1/2 feet tall, with a crown of leaves far too large to put my arms around. I have lots of photos-I'll post them one day. It was really quite a thrill getting the tree to bear fruit-I've been gardening for quite a while, and this is by far my most rewarding project!

Hope you enjoyed my story; and feel inclined to give papaya a try!

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ohiojay(z6 OH)

Nice job. It's always rewarding to be able to eat the end product of all your work and time. I've not had much luck with papayas in my greenhouse. Might try a dwarf variety again. Stressbaby is growing them in his greenhouse and they have fruited for a good while now. Your bananas may someday fruit, it will just take several seasons of growing.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 12:56PM
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red_sea_me

congrats, that is a very exciting accomplishment, pictures would be great to see. I've tried papayas here but have killed them all. After reading your story, it makes me want to try again.

-Ethan

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 12:34AM
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Eggo(z10soCal LBC)

Nice job!!! Makes me ashame I can't get mine going in a zone 10. =)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 1:41AM
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bananafan

Wow, I love stories with a happy ending. Oddly, the reason people aren't successful in planting papayas in the warmer zones might be mainly due to their having to fight an enemy that you don't have--those nasty papaya fruit flies? Whereas the challenge you're facing seem to be around keeping your plant alive over winter which proves to be the lesser enemy of the two. So, afterall people in the colder regions do have this privilege that we don't have here. I am done with planting papayas after a few try outs because those papaya creeps simply won't let up.

Thanks for sharing your Papayarella dreams come true :)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 8:00PM
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dr_scifi

I am new to this, how do I know what zone I am in ?

Live in Miami, FL?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 1:30PM
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hueytlatoani

Here are some photos of the papaya plant:

The plant, after the winter ended-note how lush, full, and healthy it looks:

The fruit, as it was ripening:

The fruit, in all it's asymetric glory:

The plant, this morning: Fruits are barely visible on left side of trunk,among the leaves.

and dr. Scifi, here's a site to help find your zone...Miami is in 10b.

http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/hzm-ne1.html

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 8:59AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

That is a GREAT looking papaya...I'm sure you enjoyed it!Thanks for posting the great pics!!

Bananafan, I am so lucky I don't have those papaya fruit flies you are talking about. I have seen posts on the FL forum about them...they sound really disgusting. I have had my Papaya trees for almost 2 years now, so far I have gotten 10-12 papayas and I have about 15 fruits right now developing. So far all the fruits I have picked have been bug free and hope it stays that way. I live 2 hours south of Orlando, in highlands county...thanks for mentioning it, I will have to keep my eye out for them...

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 9:38AM
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staticx(6b)

how do you know its a hermaphrodite

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 5:42PM
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stanofh

One lesson here is that he didnt fruit a dwarf Papaya..in fact,it's the giant Maridol. I have had Maridol flower at 3' in a warm greenhouse.Just didnt get lucky to be self fertile.So,dont blame you dont have some Cambodium dwarf carica available to only Indiana Jones. It can be done with the local piggly wiggly mart produce.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 9:47PM
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alpharetta(z7 GA)

This is indeed a great news for me. I will try to grow papaya in Atlanta GA. Lot of people on the internet are talking about cancer healing properties that Papaya (leaves and fruits) have. They make tea from papaya leaves.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 4:03AM
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veggie_girl

How do you know which seeding is hermaphrodite?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 2:06PM
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greenman62

Papaya itself is very healthy.
it is grat for stomach problems, and breaks down proteins. it has the most powerful enzymes of any fruit, and the seeds fight cancer.

I had 7 mature trees last year.
Normally here in New Orleans area, we dont get hard feezes, but this last year we had 3.
i built a greenhouse, but these were in the ground.
i lost them all.

I have several growing now
(about 30) most are seedlings, but 5-6 of them are 2-3 ft tall
i have one TR Hovey (dwarf) which is 4ft
so it should produce fruit soon.

I dont really understand why people dont grow them more,
they grow fast and taste great.
fairly easy to grow.
ive never had any problem with pests at all...

Yo can buy seeds for dwarf plants on Ebay, several places sell them as well...

University of Hawaii has dwarf seeds for $1

Waimanalo Papaya (X-77) is a yellow flesh solo papaya, which bears low to the ground initially. It is larger than Sunrise weighing 22-32 ounces.
http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/seed/seeds.asp

Here is a link that might be useful: University of Hawaii Papaya seeds

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 12:11PM
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veggie_girl

I love papaya! I really want to try going some now.

Greenman62 sorry to hear you lost all of yours last year, that's rough.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 6:53PM
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greenman62

thanks
"How do you know which seeding is hermaphrodite?"

the flowers are fat, which means a female.
skinny and on a stem are male.
papaya propagation is interesting, and pretty complex...

usually thee is a percentage of male/femal/herm ratio
that percent is different , depending on variety, and if its a female or herm fruit.
if you keep reseeding herms, you will get majority herms.
but, its also variety dependant.

90% of the plants i have grown have been herms

you can also change the sex by putting a nail in the tree, or stressing it in another way.
one of mine changed from F to Herm when i cut the top off...

Here is a link that might be useful: UH papaya sex ID

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:39AM
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veggie_girl

Thanks for the info.

This post was edited by veggie_girl on Fri, May 16, 14 at 15:02

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:58PM
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