Growing papaya in North Florida?!? No way!
And yet I am, indeed, growing them in North Central Florida. It just takes some work to pull it off.
My first year’s experiment was less than successful, but I’ve already gotten at least 8 fruits off this year’s attempt.
In order to grow papaya here, I start the seeds in spring, get the tree to about 4-6′ tall in a pot, then plant out the next spring by the south wall.
I really, really like papaya. So much so that I’m thinking of building a greenhouse for just them. Obsessive? Perhaps. But there’s a part of me that longs for the tropics… and papaya are a tangible emblem of that mystical realm.
The ones we’ve harvested thus far have been very delicious – it’s hard to share them with the children, but I do. Because I’m a Really Good Dad.
We got hit with a frost last week but it wasn’t enough to hurt my trees much. The south wall of my house and a blanket thrown over the top of the nicest of my trees was enough… so far.
Of course, the worst of winter is yet to come. Stay tuned. I’m sure photos of melted trees will be posted here soon enough.
UPDATE: If you do get hit with frost before your papaya ripen, here’s a list of green papaya recipes.
You can also check out my video on germinating papaya seeds.
I'm really impressed with your success in planting papaya tree in Florida. Your are better than me because I've chopped off my tree as it was heavily infested with mealy bugs.
I have to suppress my laughter when I read about the part where you have to agonise over sharing the fruits with your kids. You must be the most wonderful dad ever 😉
I've chopped down a couple trees myself. No mealybugs yet, but I tried a strategic pruning (a machete thwap) on a couple frost-damaged trees last year to try and get them to grow back… and that didn't work out very well. Of course, they were also damaged by the evil hidden herbicides in the manure I'd fed them earlier, so I think they were simply too far gone all around.
As for being a good dad… thanks. My two-year-old absolutely loves papaya and will eat all he can get. Though he calls it "cassava," for some reason.
"Daddy. More cassava. Daddy. More."
David…I am in NW Florida about 50 miles from the Alabama line. I grew a bunch of Papaya's from seed. I tried a few outdoors but they didn't make it. I have not found a micro climate on my property. Was successful on getting fruit in the greenhouse. Apparently didn't know when to pick the fruit and it was yucky. Finally gave up!
I grew one from seed that just hung around for a couple years in a pot. Suddenly it decided to grow and burst out of the giant plastic pot . It froze , but didn’t die , instead it now has about 15 crowns , all flowering like crazy ! I have about 15 mature fruits so far , the freeze damage has caused the main stem to slowly break and block my path , yet the tree thinks it’s threatened so puts out tons of flowers still. It’s base is up under my olive , so somewhat protected , plus I have a concrete block wall that creates a microclimate, radiating heat at night. I’m thinking of wrapping coco fiber at the base of the multistems to see if I can get them rooted to replant , I am curious as to this shortcut giving me a jumpstart on growing and harvesting.