Growing paw paw from seed questions

curtis(5)August 6, 2014

I have some paw paws in pots that I started from seeds. I have kept them in afternoon shade based on what I have read here. I would like to get them put out into full sun locations but they are only a few inches tall and have read the rule of thumb that they be shaded from the intense sun until 18".

Can I put them in those light blue grow tubes to get the protection needed?

These are seeds from native. Is there a rule of thumb as to when they can start fruiting?

Anything else to know about these?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bradybb WA-Zone8

I'm growing them from seed also and most are about three years old,2-3 feet tall and they still suffer in direct sun.The new top growth is mostly affected.
I'm trying something I read from John Gordon Nursery in New York,by putting a white plastic trash bag over some stakes that surround the plant.The bag doesn't need to touch the ground.In the writing from the nursery,it said the young plants overheated above 80F. Brady

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 3:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Though not the cheapest way to go, a cylinder-shaped "fence" of 1/4" opening X 3 ft. tall hardware clothe can stand around young paw paw plants to greatly decrease the direct Sun light hitting leaf surfaces. Because of the steep angle of Summer Sunlight, the leaves will be getting mostly indirect light. I use a thin stake beside each hoop to tie it down so that something/someone won't easily knock it down on the young plants. You can fill the lower fence ring with mulch or decomposing leaves......As dinky as baby paw paw root systems can be, the leaves dry out faster than the roots can send replacement fluid upstream. I don't know if your tiny plants just might do better in the long run if you let them develop more before getting yanked out of the only home that they have known and planted in the tougher ground environment. They just don't have the same ambition and equipment to take over the world FAST like mulberries.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 5:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Perhaps not aesthetically-pleasing, but functional - and it doesn't have to be there long... a plastic 5-gallon bucket, with the bottom cut out, and placed around the seedling will do a reasonable job shading and protecting from dessicating wind.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 5:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

I made chickenwire cages for mine, topped with two layers of windowscreen, and saw no sun damage.

My 12 seedlings were started in early 2010, planted in the ground in 2011. This year (their 5th season) a few of them flowered, one set fruit. On the current growth, I see flower buds on all 12. All except 1 have lots of flower buds (the 1 has just a few), so I expect at least most of them to set fruit next year, which will be their 6th growing season.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Paw paws are an understory plant and as such can be grown in limited light for the first couple of years. I have 4 new plants that sprouted this spring in pots. I placed the pots under my hardy kiwi vines to protect them from direct sunlight. I have two 2-year old paw paw trees already in the ground that are not protected any longer and they are doing well.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 11:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A cheap and effective shade idea that I have used is to hammer some stakes in the ground around your pawpaw. Then cut the bottom of a potato sack off and stable it over the stakes. I leave an opening at the bottom of the stakes to allow air circulation. BTW my oldest pawpaw has been in ground for 3 years and it still gets sun damage. I think in my climate they would do better with maybe 6 hours of sunlight verses all day.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 12:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I use an apparently unusual solution.

I use shadecloth.

Made specifically for this purpose, manufactured by the square mile annually, and usually available at least in cheaper versions and small rolls in local garden centers.

A couple of established other plants in big pots closely surrounding the small pawpaw for a few years works too.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 1:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Despite all the recommendations on shading them, I've always just planted them where I wanted 'em - usually as 2-3 yr old container-grown plants - and I usually have to whack off a bunch of circling roots in the bottom of the pot - and I never shade 'em - and they do just fine.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 11:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
garymc(7 S.E.Mo)

I planted 2 of them 4 or 5 years ago. One is mid calf high and I wonder if it will make it every year. The other is now about waist high. This year was the first for it to look really healthy. Then I got some from the Missouri Department of Conservation, which I'm assuming were wild seedlings. They grew this year as much as the best of the 4 year olds. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to them that I can see. The puny one sits on the west side of a young tulip poplar and the vigorous ones are out in the sun.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 3:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I plan to start my first paw paw from seed this winter under lights. I did some reading and asking around. Here is my plan:

I'll start them this winter under lights in rootmaker 18s. I'll transplant them to 1 gal rootbuilder II containers when they are 12 to 16 weeks old. I will keep them on my lower deck that get some direct sun for the first few hours of the morning followed by filtered sun later in the morning and shade in the afternoon. In year 2 I plan to transplant them to Rootbuilder II High 5 pots and keep them in the same location.

By the second dormant season, these air pruned trees should have a very dense root system and I plan to then plant them in full sun.

We will see how this method works. I'm worried that if I plant them in shade they will have reduced fruiting compared to full sun. I also worry that if I plant them in full sun they won't survive the first few years. I worry that growing them in smooth sided containers for two seasons will cause root circling and j-hooking issues. That is why I've settled on this plan.

Time will tell how well it works...

    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 7:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Depends on your location but pawpaws definitely don't like full sun like the type we have here. They will die within a few days of being outside in July-August. After they get several years old they get hardier.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 8:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

I may have to make a new thread for this, but my question is so related to the title of this thread that I'm going to give it a try. If anyone thinks I'm hijacking this thread, just say so and I'll apologize and start a new one. Here is my question, simple as it is:


I've heard not to dry them out, to cold stratify them, etc. I've already left a lot out to dry, are they ruined? How do I cold stratify them? I've also read to save them in ziplock bags, but my experience with garden seeds is that ziplock bags don't allow seeds to "breath" and therefore hold in whatever moisture they have to the point that it causes the seed to mildew/mold and even rot. So I'm reluctant to seal the seeds in ziplock baggies.?.?.? Last but not least, how much do I clean them. Obviously I remove all the loose pulp. But those familiar with pawpaw will know that the seeds have sort of a clear membrane that surrounds each seed. Not the brown outer covering, but a clear covering that is over the brown. I've read that this is to help the seed slide through an animals digestive system so it can pass before being damaged by stomach acid, etc. Anyway, I'm not sure if I should remove this or not.
If anyone wants some wild pawpaw seeds, just let me know. I'll trade or even give you some if you need them.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 8:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have not tried paw paw yet, but that will happen this year. I have grown other trees from seed that need cold stratification. One of the most problematic I've found is chestnut. They are high in carbs making them prone to mold.

Stratification requires both cold and moisture. If moisture levels drop to low, stratification stops. If temperatures drop too low (much below freezing) stratification stops. This doesn't kill the seed, but it does not stratify. Low but not too low moisture levels slow stratification. So seed that might require 60 days of stratification under ideal conditions may require 90 if moisture levels are low.

High moisture levels promote the growth of mold. Some folks use a bleach mixture on nuts before stratification, but with chestnuts, I've found that there is some acid/base reaction that occurs that can cause other issues with chestnuts so I no longer use bleach.

My preferred method is to put nuts/seed in a ziplock bag. I then soak long-fiber sphagnum (not the sphagnum that comes in bales). After the sphagnum is totally soaked, I hold a handful over the sink and squeeze as much water out of it as possible with my fist. I then put that damp sphagnum in the bag with the nuts. I only seal the bag about halfway and put it in the vegetable crisper. This keeps things at about the right temperature.

I generally don't put all my nuts/seed in one bag. Mold moves quickly from nut to nut, Keeping portions of my nuts in different bags reduces chance of catastrophic loss. I check my nuts regularly for signs of mold.

Long-fiber sphagnum helps because it has natural antifungal properties and it seems to keep the nuts at about the right moisture level.

I'm sure there are other seeds/nuts that are much less sensitive than chestnuts so depending on the seed you may be able to take a short cut. I can't yet speak to paw paw specifically. I would guess they are less susceptible to mold than chestnuts. So, you may be able to take some short-cuts, but I'm sure if you follow the procedure I use for chestnuts it will work.

Some folks try to control germination date by controlling moisture. I know some folks want to delay chestnut germination so they start them with no added moisture in the ziplock bag to delay stratification. They then add the damp sphagnum after they have been in cold storage for a while to start the stratification process. I have not had much success trying to control germination date. It may be a matter of practice and timing.

I realize this is not a direct answer to paw paw, but I'm sure much of it applies...

    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 9:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bradybb WA-Zone8

It's possible the dry seeds are not vital anymore or maybe some of them.I've always kept mine moist from start to finish,but I've read that them drying or freezing can destroy the embryos.
I've never had problems stratifying in damp baggies of peat moss,put in a refrigerator's crisper at about 35-40F.
Haven't had a mold issue.They have a tough shell.Pre-soaking the seeds in 10% bleach/water should be enough.I may have done that when first starting,but now, just put them in a bag. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Pawpaw Planting Guide

    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 10:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

Thanks for those responses. They were incredibly helpful and informative....and also a bit upsetting because I have about 60 pawpaw seeds that I sat out and let them dry for about a week. I have now put them in a ziplock bag with moist newspaper ( I always heard that newspaper has some slight antifungal properties?) since I have no sphagnum. and put them in the fridge. I figure I have nothing to loose, and I also was thinking that if an animal passed a seed this time of year it would likely dry out so maybe there is some hope??? Either way, thanks to you all I know what to do with future seeds. THanks!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 7:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Again, this is not specific to paw paw, but unless you set them directly in the sun or on a heat source, I doubt a week is long enough to kill them. I'd soak them in a bowl of water for an hour or so to rehydrate them before putting them in cold storage.

I would guess that paw paw seeds would have less of a mold issue, so you may be able to get away without the long fiber sphagnum. It is hard to find the live stuff which I like best, but you can get the dried long fiber sphagnum at Home Depot and it works too.

The link below shows you which sphagnumto use. The stuff that comes in bales comes from a different place in the bog and is fully dead without the antifungal properties of the long-fiber.

Here is a link that might be useful: Long Fiber Sphagnum

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 10:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Last year I saved paw paw seeds on the counter for an extended period. ( month? 2? ) before I read info like above. I was worried I had killed them all, but Tony Tran told me to just plant them and be patient, they are slow to appear above ground. As per normal, he was right. Germination rate was very high. Kinda like Orville Redenbacker popcorn.

You now have them properly stored. So sit tight and don't worry.

I'm doing more this nest spring, I'll probably do as Forestandfarm did, start them early in the house.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 10:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

You guys make me feel better....I was really upset that I may have wasted so many pawpaw seeds because they are very hard to come by around here. I've searched miles (literally) of riverbanks and other semi-wet areas and only found 3 small pawpaw patches....but I was thrilled to find them and 2 had fruit. Oddly, the biggest patch didn't have a single fruit. Not sure if they fell earlier, if animals got them all, or if they just didn't produce? Oh well. thanks again.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 4:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

duplicate of above post deleted

This post was edited by thecityman on Thu, Oct 2, 14 at 22:07

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 10:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)


I think the patch without any fruits were all clones or root suckers from the original tree. No pollination there.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2014 at 10:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

Thanks Tony! That makes perfect sense because the barren patch is fairly large (by my standards, which only means about 20 adults and several small ones) BUT it also is really dense-more so than the other patches I found. When I think about that patch now, it is very conceivable that every one of those trees is on the same root and therefore basically same tree. I had really been very curious about why I found no fruit there, and nothing else I could think of made sense. That's why I love this forum....I always get great information. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2014 at 8:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


So take some seeds and plop them in the ground near the stand and in a few years you'll have yourself a private pawpaw stash.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2014 at 9:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was thinking the same thing as Milehighgirl, although I would pot start them and transplant Would also make trips to look after them, like take a jug of water or whatever.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2014 at 10:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

What a simple but GREAT idea! I don't have anything to loose so I'll definitely give it a try. I'll do a little johnny appleseed on the whole area this spring.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2014 at 12:25AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Can I store apple rootstock in the fridge?
I'll be getting a couple apple rootstocks the first...
Window blinds, fence wire, electric engraver, drill, and pliers
What can make with window blinds, fence wire, electric...
Lime and lemon tree Houston area?
Best lime and lemon tree for Houston area? What are...
Haskap or Honeyberry?
I am in zone 6 in southern Illinois, so I get extreme...
Any idea what's causing this on my blueberry?
A couple of the newer branches are turning black at...
ferroplasm Zone 7b
Sponsored Products
Progress Lighting Lighting Kits North Park Collection 3-Light Brushed Nickel
$65.43 | Home Depot
Ambella Home Collection - Escher Console Table - 27046-850-001
Great Furniture Deal
Chicology 'Blaze' Faux Wood Window Blinds
Harco Loor | Big Bubbles HL 35 Chandelier
Seaside Oushak Rug 4' x 6'
$1,199.00 | Horchow
Vienna Cast Aluminum Arm Chair
Signature Hardware
Schonbek Quantum Collection 9" High Crystal Wall Sconce
Lamps Plus
Solid Outdoor Pillow - Blue, 12" x 20"
Grandin Road
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™