Killed a pawpaw?

Looks like I already killed one of the 2 pawpaws I planted this spring. Admittedly I have not been checking on my pawpaws as regularly as I should have been in this heat. The KSU Chappell seems to have dropped most of its leaves and those that remain are not looking so hot. on the other hand, the Shenandoah I planted at the same time still seems to be going strong. The KSU Chappell was in a tiny quart pot and the Shenandoah was in a tall gallon when I received them. I’m guessing the better root system has been helping the Shenandoah along. oh well, there is always next year.

KSU Chappell



Arggg sorry. You had them shaded, right?
Yeah seems like the Chappell may’ve dried up.
Water it and keep an eye on it - you never know.

But yeah the heat and drought here is crazy - can’t recall a June this bad.
I have mature pawpaws with leaves curling up and browning/dying. I’m trying to water but I don’t have great irrigation options.

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Wouldn’t give up on it so quick. I’ve had many of them go down and re-sprout from the roots. If it does you can at least graft it with something.


yes, this is how they started their lives on my property on April 28th. a ring of hardware cloth wrapped in 40% shade cloth. I never changed the setup.


I’m not digging it out or anything. The picture is after doing some weeding. I still have it in the same setup, wrapped in hardware cloth with shade cloth. gave it a good watering today too.

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Deep soak weekly at minimum in this drought. Make sure mulch has smothered grass and weeds in at least a 4 foot diam. circle. Deep mulch.

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they were set up like this (deep mulch, regular watering, weed free area) but I got busy with other things and weeds took over the mulch and I didn’t keep up on watering as much as I should have. I know what I should have been doing, I just wasn’t doing it. Only myself to blame, but that doesn’t means it sucks any less.


I planted 5 this year that I ordered from hidden springs nursery. It is crazy the differences. One tried up and was super unhappy. Pretty sure it is dead. 1 is growing but hardly with 1 leaf and the other 3 are doing amazing even in 90 degree heat with water only once a week or once every 1.5 weeks. I notice the 2 of 3 are in the back where there is more shade from the house and it is cooler (things take about a month longer to come out of dormancy back there). The other pawpaw is under a pine tree and is shaded by asparagus and a pluerry. For whatever reason things just thrive in that pot with the pluerry, asparagus, and strawberry. I have noticed both the pawpaw and blueberry seem to prefer my cooler shaded areas.

Story of my life, especially lately!!!


as shown in the picture with the shade cloth, mine are in near identical full sun locations. the KSU Chappell is “supposed” to be more vigorous than the Shenandoah so the only thing I can think of that contributed to the downfall of the KSU Chappell is the size of the pot/taproot was much smaller. that is the last time I order a pawpaw in a standard quart pot (purchased from edible landscaping).

Keep us posted on your KSU Chappell and don’t give up on it. I have absolutely had some look that bad and come back-often after dropping every leaf and putting out new ones. Not saying its likely, but more than possible. So fingers crossed and keep it watered (as if you needed to hear that! ha)


I should add that the first few years they need a lot of water according to the instructions hidden springs nursery gave me. What likely killed mine was 2 weeks of 90 degree heat with no water. I was told in the instructions to water them with a gallon of water a week for the first few years. They grow in states like TN that will get 59 inches of water every year and have a long season.

I had a whole separate thread regarding maintenance questions when I first planed them. this included watering frequency.

I think I have also killed a pawpaw (or two).

Two summers ago, I moved into my house and the pawpaw trees (two large ones) produced many pawpaw fruit. Last year, a hard freeze in May killed all the blossoms so I got no pawpaw but trees leafed out and looked fine.

It was a dry summer last summer. I did some cursory maintenance, but mostly ignored pawpaw area.

Between fixing house, beating back the wilds, working a full time job, and learning to take care of an orchard, the pawpaw were neglected. Many small pawpaw trees have sprouted around the “original” two.

The happy pawpaw of last summer:
the happy pawpaw of last summer

This year the two big pawpaw did not leaf out AT ALL:

A friend suggested maybe all the little pawpaw plants are root shoots and they stole the nutrients from the big plant. Thoughts? If we think this is likely - I have a plan and will want to check it with you all.

Friend also said that we are in “marginal” pawpaw area should I just call it a loss? (zone 6b mountain foothills, VA. I live at the top of a hill so it’s not really by a river like I see most pawpaw in state forest - should I be irrigating them?)

Another thought is the drought.

I am a newbie to all fruit trees and never tasted a pawpaw until I bought my house, so any advice welcome!

I am in CO and it has been 90s here every day. I water once a week. 4/5 of my pawpaw have lived. VA gets downpours of water. It literally rains like a sheet compared to here. You may have to water the first few years but the downpours should pretty easily do it.

I don’t think this is the case. The baby trees (suckers) are the big trees’ roots sending up new shoots. This is 100% normal; it’s the way pawpaws spread themselves into “patches.”
There’s likely a link, however, to the death of the larger trees and the appearance of the babies. When a tree is stressed or damaged, suckers result.

Don’t agree with this. You’re in a prime pawpaw location but your exact property may or may not be ideal. But pawpaws aren’t terribly picky. True they grow most frequently near streams and rivers, but they can and do grow on ridges too.

Yes, during dry periods for sure. It would be hard to overwater them I’d say.

Did you have a deep cold snap in January like many in the southeast?
This combined with the drought last summer that you mentioned may be what killed the trees, but the root system is still going as evidenced by the suckers.


I would suggest thinning that patch ,so that remaining trees are 6ft - 10 ft apart. They will quickly fill in at that spacing .
The new sprouts look very healthy, just need thinned for the long term.


While that is generally true, the last two years have put my area into the dark orange color on the drought map.

@TrilobaTracker Thanks for the thoughts. I will put irrigation in for them.

I do think the drought + winter killed an unusual number of trees in general in my area. Many did not wake up after winter and you see them all along the road when you’re driving. So perhaps that is what happened.

That sounds good! I will do that. I have already dug up some and moved them, just to see if I could. I have heard that they are very hard to move, but so far, I have had good success. Last year I moved five in early spring and they came back this year. I have moved a few more this year, but did not do so at an optimal time, so don’t know how they’ll fare.

I don’t think I will be moving all of them though and will mosly just cut down in between ones so they’re spaced better.

Also, @Hillbillyhort and @TrilobaTracker I just went to look and one of the big trees has leaves on it now (pic below). But they are only in odd places - not on all the branches. Should I cut those large trees down? Should I leave them be and see if they come back?


Drought is in the perspective of who lives there. Right now there are lawsuits from the Indians with who owns what water right now because it is so scarce right now. My sister loves VA because it is rainy so no risk of fire comparatively speaking and there is a mechanism in the ocean that stops hurricanes.

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definitely! I lived in CA and WY before this. Gardening when I moved here was crazy - I spend so much time weeding and trying to stop things from growing!