Grafting mature pawpaw

Hello all,

I am new to the growing fruit community and eager to learn from your experiences.

I recently purchased a home in zone 7a. On the property I have two mature pawpaw trees (pics attached) which are about 30 feet apart. Neither has really fruited. Likely due to poor pollination. My question is how can I graft onto these mature trees while maintaining the current structure as they are very handsome? Any recommendations as to where to place the grafts/how many to place etc?


You are better off buying new trees and keeping this one. It is young and will fruit soon.

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Ok makes sense. I didn’t know if it was worth it.

I do have 4 other ones I planted last fall in another portion of the property. Each a different Peterson variety.

When the flowers come next year,pollen can be collected from each tree and transferred back and forth,using a small paintbrush or cotton swab.

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I can definitely give that a shot next spring

You did the right thing. Pawpaws need cross pollination from another unrelated pawpaw tree.

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Thats pretty impressive. How long did it take the grafts to fruit? I will take it into consideration, although it will remove the current esthetics of the trees.

I think you’re right in keeping the esthetics and beauty of the trees in consideration.

Multi grafting might ruin the look of the trees. Get another tree and/or do what Brady suggests — pollinate by hand.

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That’s one beautiful pawpaw tree. Wow.

In general try to group all your pawpaws close together. I did not know about this when I planted mine about 20 feet apart which is too far.

Pawpaw wounds heal very slowly so grafting into such a mature tree probably isn’t a good idea- the wounds would be so big. Plus beheading them would ruin aesthetics. I would plant two or three new ones in between the existing mature ones. I’d plant Susquehanna, KSU Atwood, KSU Chappelle, maybe Greenriver Belle.


It’s simple. Here’s what you do. Don’t bark graft. Top work it. Treat it like how they rework apple trees.

I kept my central leader shape of my mature pawpaw by grafting to apical side limbs/branches. You don’t notice the difference until you get close enough. The same amount you remove for the graft is the size replaced from the new scion. Best part is that you get fruit so much faster. Grafted last year. Got fruit on those new grafts this year. The only down side of this approach is that you need LOTS of scionwood. Make sure you have the proper friends to supply it. I went through multiple 1 gallon bags full of scionwood.

Interesting. My pawpaw grafts on small or horizontal wood languish. My only pawpaw grafts that really thrive are vertical on a fat section of the leader with little to no nearby competing limbs. In other words, beheading. My pawpaws love to grow around my grafts on small or horizontal wood rather than through them, given half a chance. I had same experience with persimmon.

Over time and experimenting I learned to harness their strong apical dominance when I graft.

@JustPeachy So if your detailed topworking is working you’re doing something right! Did you topwork 100% of the tree? If so I can see how you forced the tree to cooperate.

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I may give it a shot next spring with a few graft and see what happens. Worth a shot

You don’t do it all at once. You do it bit by bit throughout the canopy. You still need nurse limbs. I leave these undisturbed till the next year when they are replaced/grafted at which point the previous year’s healed/grafted over limbs then serve as nurse limbs. Also, the size of the limbs and apical tips on my pawpaw are still pencil thick up to 1/2 inch diameter grafts.

This is a 1/2 inch secondary limb grafted last year that fruited this year. First fruit harvested about a week ago.


Well done, very interesting. I suspect my sandy/droughty soil doesn’t support lush growth like that even with deep wood chips and spring NPK.

That might be even better for a pedestrian orchard. My 15 year old tree is 16+ feet tall central leader. I need a ladder to work the top.


This is a similarly age 15 year old tree that Neal Peterson grafted for his friend and was planted about an hour south of my location. It’s grown in hard deadpan yellow clay soil (mine is rich loam). This pawpaw pictured above is a squat bush less than 6 feet tall.

Pawpaw bushes exist. You just need the soil for it.>_<

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That’s a beautiful tree that the OP has. I wonder if the blooms/fruit simply got zapped by a freeze this year. I’d be real hesitant to do any major top working on that tree unless I knew for sure that it produced inferior fruit. But I think grafting a few branches in there would be a great idea and lots of fun, even if it turns out to be unnecessary for pollination. Many great suggestions for that above.

I would have thought 30 ft between two big trees would be ok for pollination but that’s just a guess. If they are not clones, but distance is a problem for pollination, it’s pretty easy to hand pollinate to get a crop.

I should point out that even with a varietal branch grafted into the middle of the canopy, that still won’t necessarily ensure proper pollination.

I posted this the other thread.

On my fraken-pawpaw, I have replaced enough of the secondary limbs in the upper and middle canopy that without hand pollination, I still get a decent bit of fruit. (We’re talking about something like 50+ something grafts at this point.) I would still recommend hand pollination if you can do it. It’s really very easy if you have a few grafts on a each tree though. Paintbrush in one hand, dab pollen from the graft and move 1 foot over to non grafted flower, or vice versa. You don’t have to move from tree to tree. Or collect pollen and move between trees. Each tree is self contained in a sense.

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Recommendations from various sources are to have your trees about 8 feet apart. The natural pollinators (beetles and flies) are not necessarily good at their jobs, which is a major reason wild pawpaws reproduce clonally, by sending up shoots from their roots. That clonal reproduction is one reason why you get patches of wild pawpaws that never seem to produce much fruit. So get some scion wood (check with Kentucky State University and England’s Nursery also in KY) and do some grafting, or get a few trees of other varieties and plant them nearby.

How far away from the existing trees? How close together?