pollinating a paw-paw

johndoug(z6 Philly)March 21, 2012

hi - my 2 paw paws are getting old enough where i'd like to see some fruit. maybe 4-5 years planted, and i bought them grafted.

so i read about pollinating, and was surprised to read that by the time the anthers are ready to give pollen, it is too late for the stigma to accept them.

so with this logic, i have 2 trees, and 1 of them will flower first. when tree1 flowers, and pollen gets ready to save to apply to the tree 2 when it flowers, tree 1's stigma will be expired and not able to receive tree 2's pollen. so the best i can hope for is to pollinate 1 tree if i have 2, as the first tree that flowers will always not be able to be pollinated.

is this logic correct? if so, are there any options i have to be able to pollinate both trees?

thanks for replies

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each tree will put out flowers staggered over several days, so you can wait until the first flowers on each tree have become receptive, and then transfer pollen back and forth. I did my 2 trees in 3 sessions last spring, which seemed to work well.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 9:12PM
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johndoug(z6 Philly)

wow. i don't know how my brain didn't think of that. that is great news. thanks so much. very excited now!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:21PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

Do you see any flower buds on your trees?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 11:21PM
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johndoug(z6 Philly)

yes. i have buds. haven't opened yet.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 11:39PM
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I don't bother with checking each flower for stage. If it's open, in goes the soft-bristled small paint brush, one flower after another. When it coes out covered with pollen I go to another tree to pollinate until it comes out with notably more pollen. Then back to the first tree, and so on untill all flowers have been visited with some pollen (it doesn't take much). Do that three or four times spaced a few days apart or until all petals are withering and falling.

I'm sure more care would get some more fruit, but who can even get his eye up to each flower?

While I can't prove it, it seems like after a few years you get more little fly-like bugs buzzing around the flowers, though I have read (from a fruit tree professor) that small beetles are the main pillinator.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 8:13AM
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How do you know how to locate the flowers? I have two but no fruit and i had these for 7 years.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:44AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Pawpaw flowers

Here is a link that might be useful: Pawpaw flowers

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 5:35PM
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lukeott(7 south jersey)

Do you need to pollinate all pawpaw trees? What I mean is don't the bees do this for you?? I thinking of getting a few trees but if I have to do all that, it's a no go. Please say it's not so.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 8:03PM
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johndoug(z6 Philly)


i'm no expert, as i posted this question, but bees ain't what they used to be. also, bees don't pollinate paw-paw's. something i learned recently from google. pretty interesting. the flowers have rotten aroma, and are meant to attract beetles or flies. bottom line - especially with paw-paw, i think you're going to want to get out there with the paint brush. why wait all year, and leave it up to nature, and have a horrible / non-existant crop. you gotta be the bee.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 10:51PM
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A lot of people are hanging rotten meat or road kill in their paw paw trees to attract flies.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:10PM
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Some pawpaw cultivars are self-fertile, PawPaw Sunflower =Prima 1216
Here is what a member of GardenWeb wrote:
RE: paw paw varieties

Posted by greenhummer zone 5,Ohio (My Page) on
Sat, May 17, 08 at 22:41

Sunflower is self fertile period. It takes six to seven years to fruit. For the first two years I built a overhead screen to protect the small plant from the sun. That why its referred as understory plant. My pawpaw is the only one in a three mile radius that I'm know of. Last I harvested three gallons of fruit from this six year old fruit tree.
This year it looks like it will double when I compare the blooms to last year.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 2:54PM
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lukeott(7 south jersey)

OK Now..do you need a pair of each type to pollinate then? Can another type be used for pollination? If so which ones can be used. Right now i'm in the process of clearing out small trees and brush for a spot to plant. Still have to do some reading up on types.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 10:15PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

It should be any different cultivar or seedling pollen. Brady

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Be careful about hanging road kill in your trees as I did this once many years back and during the night raccoons or something broke many branches in my tree trying to get at that rotten meat. Hand pollination is much easier if you do not have natural pollinators around. I suppose you could put rotten meat on the ground underneath the tree to draw more flies and beetles in the area if you can put up with the stench.
Concerning the variety sunflower I believe it is likely self fertile as many others do. I have noticed through the years that sunflower has more blooms than any other variety I have growing. It is very productive.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:32AM
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If you want to hang something rotten in the trees, it does make a tremendous difference in the fruit set. If predators are a concern, I have a couple of thoughts for you == 1) use the bait out of a fly trap, put into a small foam cup or similar with just enough water to moisten, making sure it's so shallow none of the flies drown; or 2) you could always hang your pollinator bait on a tall, smooth metal pipe or pole about 6-8 feet off the ground just beyond the dripline of the tree.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:50AM
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