Could use advice planning a Paw Paw orchard

Marc, what grafting methods do you like best? When I’ve had decent size scions and rootstock I can match in size, whip and tongue grafts have done well for me. I’ve had less success with bark grafts on pawpaws so far. I don’t have a whole lot of experience grafting pawpaws altogether, though.


Cousin, my favorite pawpaw graft by far is the cleft. It’s fast and very effective. I know folks who do a beautiful whip and tongue–it’s beautiful and is more seamless than the cleft in the first year. But it takes me much longer, is no more effective, and by the second year looks about the same as my cleft. I have learned that if you are careful, it’s only necessary to line up one side of the cleft. I start doing them at pencil size stock, on up to about .75". After that it gets difficult to split the stock. Bark grafts work if I have to deal with larger stock. I would rather not have all that dead area around a larger graft. Pawpaw wood is not the most solid of woods.

The cleft graft is also a very safe graft. You can do all the cuts going away from you. Not so with whip and tongue. I’ve heard of whip and tongue grafting clinics with blood all over the place. Not for me. I don’t have the best knife skills, but with a $5 utility knife I can complete dozens of cleft grafts in a day. No blood! Close to 100 percent take. I’ve been experimenting with how important it is to wrap the entire scion with Parafilm vs just the joint area. Full wrapping takes a bit longer, and sometimes the poor little buds struggle to break through. In a completely controlled environment (tunnel or greenhouse) there is no need to fully wrap. But in the orchard, I’ve found that full wrapping does improve your odds. Cut–insert–rubber band–Parafilm–foil on joint.

I teach beginners how to graft, and in just a couple of minutes they can complete a cleft graft that works. Line up the “green lines.” And do it when the temperatures reach into the low 80s. That’s important. In my old age I’m also more picky about my scionwood. Look for buds that look like nice little feathers–the larger the better. Those tiny little knobby nodes without feathers don’t have much of a chance.


What are feathers on a bud?

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You might want to focus on cultivars with low potential toxicity. Sunflower and Wells have the lowest reported toxicity. NC-1, Overleese, Mitchell, Middletown, and Susquehanna have higher levels of toxins.

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I’m thinking about putting 2 of these paw paws in the same hole. Thoughts? Anyone else do this. Seems logical. image

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2 in a hole would work, if you are short on space .?
But …
To get the most return on your investment …
(Fruit per tree)
I would think a wider spacing is better 8-10 ft.?
If you have the room ?

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They don’t seem to mind the crowding as much as other trees, so I’d say to go for it if you’re low on space, but giving them more room (and then grafting between them to help the pollination) will probably give you more fruit in the long run.

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Rooms not an issue. I have twenty acres. All four will come grafted already. Just was wondering if same hole planting for two each (like Lehman did) is better than spreading all four out 8-10 feet? Thanks to you both for replies. @Hillbillyhort @tjasko

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Oh wow, my old thread has been brought back from the dead lol.

I agree with the others that it should work just fine planting 2 per hole, if you really want to do that. I don’t think it’s better to do it that way though, especially since you are spending money to buy different pregrafted trees. I would rather give each variety enough room to not cause competition for resources and risk one variety dominating another.
If you were planting seeds/seedlings this way or doing it to conserve space, then that would seem a more reasonable method.

Solid choices on varieties, by the way!


I planted three paw paws years ago. 10 feet a part. Now there are at least 30 growing in a 20x20 area. I didn’t plant the 20 plus more, they all grew on their own.

Thanks. Love your input. Makes sense.

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Wow. Incredible Bob. How are they fruiting and was the initial planted three paw paws native seedling stock or grafted varieties?
Probably wouldn’t matter for suckers anyways.

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If you have not seen this pic, it’s a pawpaw grove at a farm of a lady known as “a pawpaw lady”. She planted Peterson’s: Shenandoah, Susquehanna and Rappahannock (?) about 10-12 years ago. They were planted anywhere from 8-12 feet apart.

She also let a couple of tasty seedlings grow to maturity. They have grown into one another and shaded one another. It was somewhat inconvenient when walking through those trees looking for fruit.


Pretty neat. Thanks for sharing.

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I get some fruit nothing to write home about. It took about 8 years before the fruit started up. They are all the same American pawpaw however, I’ve grafted several varieties to them and for the most part all have taken and going well.

I’m not sure if they are suckers or have grown from all the fruit that has fallen. Probably suckers.

Paw paw grow wild in abundance in the woods around me. One thing to keep in mind with those small pots you have. The root is usually twice the length and size of the above growth. So you will need to plant or re-pot soon. As the other poster had said two in a hole might not be a bad idea. Pollination is the paw paws biggest problem. Plus with two in a hole if one dies no need to replant and if one of them has poor taste you can cut it out without affecting anything.


I like it!

Just adding in a comment here…

I have a small yard, an eighth of an acre (including the house and a 2.5 car garage) and I find that all my pawpaws fruit well (there are 7) except for one. This one is physically separated from all the others (none of its branches touch another) and though it is only about 15 feet from its neighbor it never has fruited. It blooms well and it is by far the largest (height) pawpaw I have, it just hasn’t set any fruit.

Between this tree and its closest neighbors is a large mulberry. My thought is that the pollenators which take care of the rest of the trees don’t make the effort to go to this other tree because of the mulberry being in the way.

Next year I will be hand pollenating this tree myself to see if I can get it to bear for me.


PS… this seems like a good place to ask. Anyone willing to share a cutting or two of Mango pawpaw?


I have Mango pawpaw scionwood. I’m looking to trade for lots of different types of scion and seeds if you’d be interested in trading. My current list of haves and wants is in my profile description.

I did the same! 3 paw paws - about 10 feet apart. Planted several years ago. I have ‘Shenandoah’ and ‘Susquehanna’ . . . and don’t recall what the 3rd one is.
But, mine are growing so s l o w !!! So last year I cleared a wider space around the trunks, mulched, and fertilized with 8-8-8. Seemed to give them a boost - but still not what I would call ‘thriving’. Can’t figure out why.

We have paw paws native to this area.
Everyone says to plant them in the sun . . . but the ones we find here, growing wild, are always under a canopy of trees - in the woods. ?

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