Amend Pawpaw Soil?

All you pawpaw growers: when I plant pawpaw seed in the ground, in its permanent spot, should I amend the soil with compost or perlite or anything else? I have silt/loam, decent drainage but not a ton of organic matter.
I get the feeling the latest trend is not to amend but top-dress with compost then mulch???

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It is best to start seeds in the long pots or a empty gallon of milk jugs. I used miracle gro potting mixed but you can use 50% compost and pertile. The good thing about the milk jug is that you can move the jug in the shade area for the first season and I can overwinter it in the gargage if needed. I try to start the seeds from the ground with poor results.


Ive found pawpaw growing in clay to sand. I would plant to field or transplant from pots to field when saplings are dormant. I would not put much in the hole besides water when planting.

Top-side dress with mulch.

I like to direct seed into the ground. I amend the loam with perlite & vermiculite. A little compost won’t hurt. They like loose rich deep flooded loam. They are all about dropping that tap root, which is super fragile.

Keep 'em shaded the first two years or the sun might zap them to death.

Be patient; they grow slowly.

Thanks for info. This year I tried hanging catfish stinkbait to attract pollinators in my two eight year old pawpaw trees. It appears to have not worked well at all, just a handful of tiny fruit and expect many of them will abort as in years past. So next year have to master the collection of pollen by hand.

I only have a few years of experience with starting pawpaws from seed, but I’m inclined to favor direct seeding in place so long as providing shade isn’t too much of an issue.

I’ve found that the root structure of pawpaws often doesn’t hold potting soil together at all well, so I haven’t found any easy way to reliably get pawpaws from a pot into the ground without the potting mix falling from the roots and breaking some roots in the process.

I’ve also had much worse vole trouble (with pawpaws but also in general with other trees) from trees planted from pots as opposed to growing in place from seed or planting bare root (which lots of people advise against with pawpaws, although I had pretty good success transplanting fairly bare root seedlings until I “knew better”).

My inclination would be to not do anything to amend soil like you, Steve, described, particularly not in the hole.

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I’m still learning when it comes to Pawpaws. I started my first ones from seed this winter in Rootmaker 18s which pruned the tap root. After about 16 weeks, I transplanted them to 1 gal Rootbuilder II pots. I had no problem keeping the rootball intact during the transplant. This is likely due to tap root pruning forcing much earlier secondary and tertiary root branching. I’m keeping them in these posts for the first growing season. I will transplant them to 3 gal pots for the second season and then plant them in the field.

These rootbulder II pots shouldn’t have any issues with the rootball. You just snip a couple cable ties and the pots unwrap from around the root ball.

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From the England’s Orchard site: Pawpaws should be watered with an acidic solution, (Beer or vinegar one pint to a 5-gallon bucket of water) once a month throughout the summer in addition to normal watering.

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SMC - where did you find the watering tip on England’s site? I looked and could not find any growing tips for pawpaws there. Cliff England is a great pawpaw expert so would love to read more about his advice.

I’ve heard of sharing beer with my paw, but never my pawpaw.


My Pa Pa does not drink beer and my pawpaws are still in juvenile stage so I’m keeping all the beers for myself!

On amending or not amending pawpaw planting soil, I got an email from Cliff England, expert pawpaw grower at England’s Nursery (KY):

Only put in the hole what came out of the hole no amendments in the hole. Do amend with compost on the surface (no fertilizer first year) and mulch well. Even if the soil is clay by amending the soil with anything else the conditions create the fish bowl effect where water will stand and the roots will rot. Now if the soil drains well it is not so much an issue but in localized suburban planting site very few folks have feet of top soil and or poor soils