There are many varieties of papaya . The kamiah papaya is a genetically modified variety from Hawaii. The Mexican red is very sweet and larger than the Hawaiian varieties. The Mexican yellow has a firmer texture than the Mexican red and is not as sweet.
The Solo is the most common variety of papaya and is bisexual (not kinky in the plant kingdom.) The solo papaya plant will not produce any male trees so each plant will provide fruit. However, much of the solo variety is from Hawaii. It seems that most papaya from Hawaii is now genetically modified due to cross-contamination.
Our papaya tree produced prolifically for us over the past two years, but… we want to plant more. The papaya tree peaks in the second year and usually declines after that. We have two red maradols (Caribbean red) and a Hawaiian sunrise planted for this year. We obtained our Hawaiian sunrise variety from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. They only sell organic and non-GMO seeds. We bought two young red maradols from Echo Nursery in N. Ft. Myers, Florida that are bisexual.
We will be able to plant the seeds from these and there is a high probability that the seeds will be bisexual too. These red maradols are not supposed to be genetically modified , but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. They are, however, a hybrid, which is different from being genetically modified.
Papaya is usually grown from seed. The plant will reach about 10-15 feet in height and should give you fruit (a berry) within the first year of planting because it grows quickly. The papaya tree has high water requirements and shallow roots. It must have warmth throughout the year and needs at least 10 months of heat to set fruit. They grow well in a container.
Some papaya plants have only short-stemmed female flowers. Other papaya plants may have only male flowers on long stalks. Some plants have both male and female plants (bisexual). Sometimes the plant will change from male to female after being beheaded (garden language – don’t be scared.) Pollination is usually necessary for fruit set and is done so at night by moths (and you thought all they did was fly around light bulbs.)
Only female plants produce fruit. One male plant is needed for every 15-25 females (bulls, roosters and papayas… every man’s dream life.) If you have a bisexual papaya plant (solo variety), it will act as its own pollen source for its flowers and nearby female flowers and will give you fruit.
The non-GMO Hawaiian sunrise seeds that we germinated will be an assortment of male and female plants. We are germinating all of them. When they start to flower, we will compost all the males except for one (the dream ends here.) We don’t have to do that with our red maradols. Only one plant is needed to produce fruit.
There are many pests that attack papayas in each region they grow. In Florida they are susceptible to webworms, papaya fruit and white flies. Florida also has a problem with nematodes in the soil that cause damage to the roots. Mulching helps with the nematode problem. Fungal and viral diseases can also be problems.
I expected to have difficulties when we started growing papaya because we lots of pests and nematodes. So far we have had no problems and a bountiful harvest.
The orange-ish yellow fruit is ready to be harvested when the tip turns yellow. I like my papayas to be really ripe, so I wait until they don’t look so picture-perfect on the tree anymore. They bruise easily when they are ripe so they must be handled with care.
Now… don’t you feel berry educated about this fabulous fruit?
Come grow with us!