In July of 2011, I planted seeds from an organic Maui Sunrise papaya. Sunrise is also known as Strawberry papaya. It took over 4 weeks for the seeds to sprout and they grew very slowly over the next month.At 3 Months - Sunrise Papaya Seedlings
At 3 months the seedlings were large enough to transplant into a garden bed.
Solo and Sunrise are the most commonly grown papayas on Maui. Their seeds predominately germinate hermaphrodite plants which are self-fertile.
The following link is a pdf with photos for identifying the sex of the papaya flowers:
Growing Papayas in Hawaii
The seedling grew rapidly and the tree began to flower when it reached 5 feet tall. The first flowers appeared around 7 months (4 months from transplanting). Hermaphrodite flowers are cylindrical.
At 8 Months - The First Fruit Began to Grow
I don't recommend using seeds from Big Island or Oahu grown papayas as GMO papayas are aggressively being grown there. Cross pollination has been a significant problem for the non-GMO and organic farmers - organic papayas from the Big Island and Oahu could be contaminated.
Solo and Sunrise papaya trees should be planted in the ground as their root systems are too large and aggressive to be contained in a pot. Like other tropical fruit trees and plants, papaya grow very well in our acidic soil.
Several pests and diseases can affect papaya trees - the most common problem in Kihei is the nematode. Nematodes can destroy the root system of a papaya tree in a short period of time. French varieties of marigolds are suppose to deter the nematodes. I planted a mix of French marigold seeds in my garden bed and I also mixed ground eggshells into the soil. Finely ground eggshells reduce the population of rose beetles and ants but I don't know if they'll actually work for controlling nematodes.
Birds can damage the ripening fruit. The easiest remedy is to harvest the fruit when they just start to turn color and let them ripen in a protected area or indoors. In some areas of Maui the oriental fruit flies will attack ripening papayas. Although oriental fruit flies are found in Kihei, the population has been low in my garden.
Papaya ring spot (a mosaic virus) has been a problem on the Big Island and Oahu and that's why they have GMO papayas being grown there. Maui is considered ring spot virus free, another good reason to use papaya seeds from a Maui grown papaya.
Before I planted, I amended the garden bed with lots of compost. I added additional compost and a generous amount of an organic all-purpose fertilizer once a month. Some sources note not to over water papaya trees but it's hot in Kihei and I watered most every day. When transplanted, the papaya seedlings should be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
Sunrise are the most common papayas grown in Hawaii but there are other varieties of seeds sold online. Any variety that produces hermaphrodite flowers should grow well in our climate. If it produces male and female plants, I recommend finding out if the species of insect needed to pollinate the flowers is common in the area and elevation where your papaya trees will be growing.
Thai Green Papaya Salad
Papaya Raspberry Smoothie
Papaya seeds online
Aloha Seed & Herb