Helping a paw paw go dormant?

I need help convincing a pawpaw tree it is time to go dormant. A few years ago I bought a Wabash that grew like a weed it was the fasted growing pawpaw I ever had but it died last winter. This tendency to die in the winter has happened to a few other grafted varieties in the past. I have a hunch they died because they didn’t go dormant in time, the Wabash stayed green long after my other trees dropped their leaves.
This summer the Wabash roots sent up suckers and I let one grow, it grew over 3 ft tall in one season! The other night was our first frost and the reluctant to go dormant pawpaw is showing damage while my others aren’t. It seems the vigor of the Wabash and the tendency to go dormant late came from the roots. I should mention that in the past all of my young pawpaw trees got some frost damage before going dormant. This happens for the first year or two until they figure out their schedule, but never to the extent of this tree. I think this is due to the fact that where I live we have a short growing season, large temperatures swings between night/day and quickly change seasons.
What can I do to save this tree? I’m really impressed with it’s growth rate and would hate to see it freeze again. Would it be ok to pull the leaves off to help it along. Hopefully after a few more years it will figure out what to do. Thanks Greg

The issue is that it’s growing too rapidly. Same thing happens to figs when they freeze back in winter. Next spring the plant has large roots and no top. So it grows back rapidly and frequently keeps right on going into fall. It becomes a self perpetuating cycle: big roots + little top = rapid regrowth.

The plant needs to quit growing in August. Cut back on water and fertilizer as much as possible after mid summer.

1 Like

I fertilized my trees in the spring this year, but you may be right about the water. It is in the center of where I usually place my sprinkler so that tree does get more water… I haven’t watered my yard for about a month but we have been getting rain now. I noticed the main leader stopped growing a few weeks ago and the bark was beginning to harden off, but later than the others. I was under the impression that I had a really quick grower for my area but now it sounds like it maybe to many roots for the top? Either way it has grown quicker than any of my other trees I guess time will tell. Also it sounds like I need to water my other trees even more, as it seems I can never give them enough. Thanks for the info Greg

So,the Wabash was not grafted to a root stock?Brady

The Wabash was grafted to the roots that are now growing really fast.

Could a plant hormone like abscisic acid be used as a last ditch effort in this sort of situation?