Ordered bare-root paw paw. Are they doomed?

m_taggart(7b)February 29, 2012

So I ordered 5-6 foot bare-root pawpaw from Ty Ty nursery in GA. After ordering, I read that pawpaw can be very difficult to transplant. Ty Ty has a video showing planting directions for pawpaws; see link below.


It looks like they've cut the tap root and left very few roots intact. Do you think I'll be able to establish the 2 pawpaws I've ordered from them? Tips?

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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Tip 1 TyTy is about the most disreputable company you could ever deal with. They have a HORRIBLE reputation.

Far as if the plants will live..no idea just thought I would give you a warning about the company.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Thanks for the tip. I will call now and cancel my order.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 11:38AM
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By the way, does anyone know of a reputable nursery where I can find pawpaws? A local nursery does have then in 7 gallon pots, but they are $70 a piece and I'm not sure I'm willing to pay that much (need to buy 2 for pollination) without ever having tasted one.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 12:00PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

If you're looking for alternative suppliers, Burnt Ridge Nursery, Edible Landscaping, and Raintree Nursery all have a good selection of named Paw Paw varieties.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 12:03PM
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It is better to buy named pawpaw varieties,they bear fruits in 4 years,try Sun Flower and Prima 1216,they are self -vertile.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 1:20PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"Thanks for the tip. I will call now and cancel my order."

If they've already charged your credit card, you may be lucky to get your money back.

Below is a thread on Ty Ty. Ignore the few positive reviews in the thread. Ty Ty sometimes monitors forums like this and is well known for posting positive comments about their nursery, using fictitious usernames.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ty Ty Nursery in GA

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 1:28PM
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armyofda12mnkeys(7a, Philly, PA)

Yeh TyTy stinks :). and their videos are creepy (kinda funny in a creepy way lol).

I ordered some pawpaws from Nolin Nursery and forget where but also bought a couple from RainTree/OGW/BurntRidge to compare growth this year....

How do Nolin Nurseries and that other nursery (Forrest Keeling) bareroots which carry Petersen's pawpaw varieties compare? ... I heard Nolin's are pretty big (if you order the larger sizes), and think I read one or both of them have special methods to grow them (Forrest Keeling's "RPM Root Production Method"). Not sure if both are bareroots (Nolin def is). Not sure if Nolin has a proprietary method as well like FK. and Not sure if transplanting their better plants can result in same success rate as the non-bareroot RainTree ones.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 2:18PM
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One Green World
and others

Neal Peterson used to ship stocky well-grown pawpaws bareroot. They took up to a year to recover but then grew well.

Other sources with smaller bareroot plants did not do too well in my experience, though some plants eventually prospered (while others declined and died).

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 3:01PM
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I got my pawpaw trees as seedlings that I dug up at a friend's place. He throws his seeds back in the woods, and he let me dig up the volunteer seedlings and transplant them to my place. This is before I read that pawpaws were difficult to transplant, so I just dug them up and replanted them without doing anything special. Of the 9 I put in the ground 8 survived, although another 2 are still badly stunted (

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 3:03PM
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There are two other aspects to pawpaws that affect transplanting and their reputation for difficulty in transplanting.

Old experience was possibly more with root suckers in pawpaw patches rather than seedlings and these suckers apparently have fewer roots at the stem base and are harder to get to survive.

Pawpaws also apparently do not grow roots in winter and thus do not do as well as many other deciduous plants in late-fall-winter transplanting and are said to best transplant in very late winter or early spring just as or before they leaf out. (This is said to be similar to magnolias.) I peronally have seen the flush of new white roots as I transplant from large containers in very late-winter or early spring.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 3:44PM
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I would say that I have had about a 50 to 60 percent success rate in transplanting bare-root suckers I dug from my own trees. The success rate is directly proportional to the care I take in excavating the root system -- the more root and the less damaged, the better. Of course, the BEST success is with suckers that not only have their own root, but a piece of the larger parent root that grows horizontal to the soil's surface, generally about i to 12 inches deep.

Now, if I had fewer of these, I would be more careful. But, my 2 mature trees produce about 2 to 3 dozen of these each year. I can't stand to just destroy them, so generally I dig and either give to people I know, pot them to give away later, or use a few to start new plants for myself.

Having the luxury of having an abundance, I can afford to stuff five or six in a hole and see what makes it, later thinning to one or two as desired.

I've also gotten a couple of bare-root trees through the mail, from Hidden Spring Nursery in TN, and they did fine. Reputable Source!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 4:24PM
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I consider myself lucky that I managed to get in on someone here on the boards that was trying to get rid of a bunch of mixed pawpaw seeds. I've got two dozen of them planted in very large containers (that taproot they grow is HUGE!), and its warming up enough now that soon I can go plant the leftovers out in the woods directly.

Main reason they don't transfer well is that taproot. They'll grow one 10-12 inches long before they even break the surface with a sprout, and if you damage that taproot... well good luck if you do, you'll need it.

Most nurseries I've seen won't stock pawpaws because of how horrendously difficult they are to sprout (requires 3-4 months of cold but not freezing temperatures while staying steadily moist, or the seeds die), although they're supposed to be damned near impossible to stop once they get growing (assuming you don't sunburn them in direct light for the first year).

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 9:48PM
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I've broken a number of large taproots that have grown through the bottom of pots and have had no particular trouble keeping the potted pawpaw alive.

I would bet that rootpruning suckers by a ring of deep shovel thrusts the growing season before would result in better-rooted suckers for transplanting.

I like and have had good luck with Hidden Springs with all plants BUT pawpaw. About half died despite extraordinary care (potted, for special care; big pots; good soil; partial shade; watered). If I am tempted again to buy the several selections they alone carry I will use the tops as scions to graft on established rootstock.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 9:15AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

One Green World sells paw paws in pots, including some of the Peterson varieties. That would be my first choice

These are my experiences buying paw paws:

Several years ago, I bought a 'Susquehanna' and a 'Rappahannock' from Neal Peterson. They were both bare root, field grown. The Rappahannock graft died over the first winter, the rootstock sent up new shoots. The Susquehanna grew well for 3 or 4 seasons, then the grafted portion died.

I bought a 'Mango' paw paw from One Green World, that came in a 1 quart pot. It has done very well, is 8 or 9 feet tall, and has several flower buds.

In the spring of 2010 bought a 'Wabash' and a 'Shenandoah' from Nolin. Both were field grown, bare rooted. You can see pictures in the thread linked below. I potted the Shenandoah in a 5 gallon bucket with a home made potting mix of 5 parts pine bark, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part perlite. I planted the Wabash directly in the ground and have babied it as much as possible. It's mulched with compost in a 5' square, and watered regularly. After 1 year, I planted the Shenandoah in the ground. It had lots of new roots. That season (2011) the Shenandoah put on several inches of growth and looks great, while the Wabash grew about 2 inches, and looks pathetic, with a small number of small droopy leaves.

In the fall of 2010 I bought a 'Susquehanna' from Forrest Keeling. It came in a 4" pot, not very deep. Quite an adventure buying from them, they're clearly not used to selling retail. It had lots of roots. It put on about 6 inches of growth during the 2011 season.

I would avoid buying bare root paw paws. I've heard lots of stories here and elsewhere about them failing, including many stories similar to my own, where the grafted portion grows for a few years, then dies.

You can see pictures of the roots of the Nolin plants and the Forrest Keeling plant in the thread linked below.


Here is a link that might be useful: pictures of paw paws from Nolin and Forrest Keeling

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 12:28PM
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armyofda12mnkeys(7a, Philly, PA)

Cool pictures,
I guess the bareroot ones I already ordered from Nolin I'll put in pots the first year since it seems like you had more success with potted bareroots. and the potted ones i get from RainTree I'll put in ground.
Thanks Alex.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 3:04AM
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OP here. Thanks for the incredible amount of useful information. My local nursery ended up receiving 3 ft tall plants in ~ 7 gallon pots for less than they initially said, $55 instead of $70 a piece. They had a sale so I got 30% off of my purchase of two pawpaws. They are simple unnamed seedlings.

I'll probably put them in the ground this weekend and am working on picking a location. I have two fairly good spots on opposite ends of the yard. Approximately how far apart do you believe I could plant them without affecting pollination? Maximum distance would be about 70 feet. Also, how well would you amend the soil? I have sandy loam in the first 8 inches underlain by red clay.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 8:50AM
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I purchased young pawpaw seedlings in pots from Starks. The young trees are now several years old and have done well. You have to be careful with the taproot in transplanting, and make sure your site has the correct growing conditions. You want to avoid further transplanting.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 8:54AM
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I think 70 feet would be OK. Do you know the trick about hanging something stinky and rotten in the trees just before the buds open? I've used chicken skins, fly bait out of a fly trap, and rotten eggs, and it really increases the fruit set. Mostly pollinated by flies attracted to carrion, and I wouldn't think 70 feet would be much of an issue for them.

I don't think clay is an issue, either. My two original trees are planted in heavy clay that sometimes has a little standing water for 2-3 days at certain times of the year, and they thrive. By "heavy" clay, I mean the kind that is so thick and nasty it sticks in heavy, heavy clumps to your boots when wet.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 9:37AM
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I have 2 pawpaws. I'm at what is considered the southern extreme of their zone. They have both done well.
One thing I have not read is the need for shade. I understand that pawpaws need to begin life under a dappled canopy then have full sun at maturity.
I can tell you something about taproots. My experience is with pines but we prune seedling taproots (and feeders) back to a certain length for planting. Studies show that a side root will take the place of a severed tap root.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 12:16PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

Paw paws are not known for attracting a lot of pollinator activity, and poor pollination is one of the few problems frequently mentioned (right after transplanting difficulties!). I'd want them a lot closer than 70 feet. If that's how you plant them, you could hand pollinate without much trouble. Alternatively, you could graft branches from each one on to the other


    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Alex, that's a great idea I would have never thought of. Now I just need to learn to graft...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 4:16PM
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Great thread! I just got a bunch of paw paw suckers from a friend. Most seemed to have ample root mass and a few only had the horizontal taproot from the parent tree. My fingers are crossed, hope I have a good survival rate. I just potted them up the other day.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 11:44AM
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paw paws are tough to transplant. Best to plant seeds of a good superior variety. Bareroot Paw Paw trees not very likely will survive, and sounds like this nursery really doesn't care.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 1:54PM
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I've had some bad outcomes with bare root pawpaw trees, but most of my bare root pawpaws have grown well. The most obvious predictor of outcome is the nursery that grew the tree - some just seem to know how to do it and some don't. Now I usually like to champion the little guy, the small retail nursery, but in this case I've had much better success with the larger wholesale nurseries who grow and sell these in large quantities.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 10:45PM
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m-taggart, if you're going to graft different varieties into your two pawpaws, why not try grafting some named/proven varieties? I'm sure there are people willing to share scionwood with you. (In a year or two, if my grafts take and newly purchased trees survive, I'll gladly give you some. I'm just a couple hours west of you.) I've had seedlings for about 4 years now, but I'm top-working them to proven varieties this year, leaving a few lower branches on the taller ones for curiosity sake.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 7:25AM
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I think the real problem might be that you ordered from tyty nursery :(

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 7:32PM
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