Paw Paw trees

Qman62July 5, 2012

What is the best way to get Paw Paw trees to grow. I have tried several times. I live in northern illinois.

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when I got mine, I built a cage...about 3x3x1.5 and about a foot above the ground from the bottom. the shade was about 40% and was used for the first two years, now they are in
full sun. they seem to be growing faster now...but we shall see.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:44AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

Don't start with bare root trees, get them potted.

Can you tell us more about what happened to your trees?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 1:16PM
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I got some pre-stratified seeds from someone here on GW. Planted them 3 to a container (DEEP containers!) and have gotten about 2/3rd's sprout rate so far.

The real trick to sprouting them is that they take *FOREVER* to sprout, even when done right. I planted these things back in February during the warm spell, brought them inside when it got cold again, took them back out when it warmed up. Its only been in the past month that most of the sprouted, and I'm still getting new sprouts within the last week.

So yeah, it took me upwards of 5-6 months to get my seedlings sprouted, so don't toss them out just because they don't appear to be doing anything.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:46PM
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Same here. They take quite a while before you see topgrowth; planted some back in March that have just shot up above-ground shoots in the last couple of weeks.
I've had an occasional pawpaw seed not germinate until the next spring - well over a year after being planted.
Planted some one year in March, and one didn't sprout a shoot until October.

I've seen, somewhere in the past, a scientific paper indicating that pawpaw seed, planted in the fall, germinate and begin shoot growth significantly earlier than seeds stratified in the fridge and planted out in spring. Haven't tried it that way, personally.

I had dismal success with bare-root pawpaws, early on. Have container-grown them and planted out at 2-3 years with good success - and did not 'shade' them. Personal experience with transplanting grafted pawpaws has been that they grow OK for a year or two, then the graft declines and the rootstock takes over;, I get seedlings established and growing well, then topwork them to named-varieties.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 5:33PM
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Pawpaws are native to the eastern us, up to southern ontario. Usually found in river plains. They are understory trees, which means they can take shade.

Seeds need to be planted in the fall outside where you want them, or in deep pots, and stratified over the winter (3 months at least). They first grow a long tap root, then put up shoots about 4 - 6 weeks later. Damaging the tap root can be fatal. DO NOT LET THE SEEDS DRY OUT!

Seedlings cannot under any circumstances be in direct light for 2 - 3 years. They need well draining, highly organic soil, but shouldnt be let to dry out. As suggested, you could built a small shade house using fabric, or use existing plants to create shade, then remove them in a few years (like forest succession)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

I read about a guy on the Cloud Forest website that grows or grew them in the San Jose,CA area.They said he didn't use any kind of shade but made some kind of watering system,possibly a misting out on open ground.
If I find the article again,I'll post it. Brady

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 11:12AM
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I call bs on the fatal taproot damage myth.
I grow 'em en mass in 3 gallon pots - and even did some in 20oz styro cups a few years back. Invariably, they have taproot circling around the bottom of the pot - if not exiting through a drainage hole. I just cut off the circling part when I re-pot or transplant - and they do just fine.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 11:30PM
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swvirginiadave(z6 VA)

I've had good success many times by planting multiple seeds in a pot with loose topsoil or potting mix and leaving them outdoors until January, then bringing the pot indoors to a warm spot. Alternately, I have stratified them in the refrigerator instead of outdoors. This will usually cause them to come up months earlier than leaving them outdoors. As Canadian says don't ever let the seeds dry out before planting. One can separate the seedlings easily and replant each in its own pot, them place them in a shaded area for the remainder of the season. Afterwards, they can be transplanted to where they will grow anytime it's convenient for you.

If you get plants via mail order, potted is the best choice. They can be transplanted bare root but it's risky. They can best stand to have their roots disturbed at the beginning of the growing season in the Spring just as they begin to break dormancy. Any other time is asking for trouble.

I agree with Lucky: I've had much better success grafting on established rootstock than buying those little one year old grafted plants from a nursery.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 9:33PM
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I usually start multiple seeds in a 3-gallon pot of loose potting mix/pinebark fines, grow 'em out for a year (or two), then, just before they break dormancy, I dump 'em out, untangle roots, and re-pot to individual pots - trimming off any excess root mass that won't fit their new pot. Grow 'em for an additional year in individual pots, then transplant to permanent location.

Drying of seeds = embryo death.
However, properly stratified seed can remain viable for extended periods - think I read a published manuscript on long-term storage/germination a few years back.
I've got a nice batch of seedlings sprouting from 2-yr old seeds right now, and several years back, I misplaced a bag of A.parviflora seeds in my fridge - found 'em 3 years later, planted them, and got probably 75% germination.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 10:25AM
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swvirginiadave(z6 VA)

Lucky: How does parviflora fruit taste? I've seen this in Florida with immature fruit so couldn't collect seeds or taste ripened fruit.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Not much pulp surrounding the seeds on any of the parvifloras I've seen - tastes like...pawpaw - just not much of it there.

I'm growing this one mainly for nostalgia's sake - the ortet grew on the family farm, back in east-central AL - a heavy fruiter, branches would be festooned with the little 2" fruits all along the length of its branches; presumably it was self-fertile, as the nearest other pawpaw was easily 100 yds away. I had it grafted on triloba understock, and was fruiting well here, but the Easter Big Freeze Disaster of 2007 killed it back to the ground - as it did with many other trees that would otherwise have been iron-clad cold-hardy here.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 11:50PM
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