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Little River Cooperative

Red Lady Papaya

Regular price $12.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $12.00 USD
Sale Sold out

Red Lady Papaya
Carica papaya

days to maturity: 10 months
plant spacing: 1 plant every 8 feet
sunlight requirements: 8-14 hours
look out for: papaya fruit fly, local critters like raccoons 
harvest notes: harvest before completely ripe
food forest layer: understory canopy 


Did you know that papaya “trees” are actually giant herbs? Maybe thats one of the reasons why these delicious fruits are so easy to grow. The papaya is believed to have originated in southern Mexico and eastern Central America. From there the Spanish introduced it to Asia and the Philippines, and by the 19th century it was being grown in pretty much all tropical regions throughout the world. While there are many different cultivars the Red Lady is grown and prized for its delicious fruit which is higher in sugar than some other varieties and has a unique floral taste. We hear from many of our customers that they dont like papayas, but that just means they haven’t had a good one yet, or they are eating them under-ripe. A papaya should be soft enough to yield to a firm press, smell heavily and be bright orange with even some bad spots on the outside before its eaten.

Besides the fruit you can also use every other part of the papaya plant. The unripe fruit can be used for cooking, and the leaves contain Papain, an enzyme used to break down and tenderize meat. The seeds can be dried and added to a pepper grinder, as they have anti microbial and anti parasitic properties when consumed. Also, because of the presence of Papain, papaya fruit makes a great ingredient for skin rejuvenating face masks. 

Papaya plants have a taproot (like a carrot) so make sure you take care when transplanting your seedlings into the garden. Planted in spring or summer in the tropics and given proper nutrients and plenty of rainfall your papaya should yield you about 80 pounds of fruit in its first year.

We sell seed grown papayas which means they are NOT guaranteed female. Only females will produce fruit and you will need a male within about 3 miles of your female in order for it to yield fruit, so we recommend buying yourself 2-3 plants, with the hopes that you get at least 1 female and 1 male. If you live in an area with lots of other papayas in home landscapes you might be able to get away with not planting your own male, but males are also beautiful plants with culinary and medicinal uses. Plant your Papayas about 7-10 feet apart in full sun and well draining soil. The more sun you give your papaya plant the shorter itll stay, which is a good thing for harvesting fruit and surviving strong winds. 


All of our plants are produced using OMRI certified organic materials (potting mix, fertilizer & pesticides) however our nursery is not certified organic. Plants are shipped in compostable peat moss pots and we use heirloom & organic seeds whenever possible.

Shipping & Returns

We ship plant orders every Monday. Due to the nature of shipping plants we only offer expedited shipping for our live plant orders. Our returns & exchanges policy is also quite strict since its hard to control the quality of a plant once it leaves our facility, however we do our very best to make sure that each and every customer is satisfied with their plants. Read more about our policies here. 


All of our plants are potted in 4" pots and their foliage size varies based on how large the plant is naturally when its root ball is the correct size for the pot. If a plant is too tall for our shipping box we may prune it to fit (bonus: many plants do better after being pruned since they make bushier growth). We do our very best to ship all of our plants in the "sweet spot" of maturity however so long as the roots have colonized the pot we will consider a plant mature enough to ship.

Care Instructions

When you receive your plant its critical to get it out of its box and into the light the day it arrives. It will also want to be removed from its compostable plastic wrapping and given fresh water to drink. Keep in mind, this plant was grown in the tropical humid climate of South Florida, so if it's terribly cold or dry where you are it'll need to be hardened off before planting outdoors. Visit our care instructions page for more thorough info about caring for your new plant friend.

  • What Our Customers Have to Say:

    This is a great, local organization with really knowledgeable & friendly staff. They make gardening easy and accessible, and I've purchased many high quality plants and equipment from them.
    -Kate Black (5 star google review)

  • And Another One:

    How lucky we are to have a resource like Little River Cooperative here in Miami, not only for the access they offer to a great selection of plants and produce, but also for the knowledge they provide and the sense of community they foster!
    -Nick Vagnoni (5 star google review)