Last year I got some paw paw from a generous donor and from the Paw Paw Festival. Of course I saved the seeds and stratified them over the winter in my fridge. This spring, I planted them in rootmaker trays (32’s) and they are doing really well. Just thought I’d share a photo:
I’m planning on putting them in an unheated greenhouse in a overwintering box that my son made. The greenhouse is made of double walled polycarbonate and so is the box. I figure that space basically lets me gain 2 zones, but because it is tinted, it doesn’t overheat.
Next year, I’d like to graft named varieties to 1/2 of them, move them up to the next size rootmaker trays (18’s) and keep them in that tray for two years. I am also planning to keep them outside in a protected situation. Year three, I’d like to plant half and move half up to a larger rootmaker. My ultimate plan is to keep them in rootmakers for 5 or 6 years and then start offering them for sell. It will be a miracle if I make it that far with them, lol.
Edited to say that I have 3 trays, and I’m planning on doing this every year!
The roots the first summer are longer than the above-ground growth.
One little anectdotal tid-bit. I moved half a dozen one gallon pawpaw seedlings that were 2 years old from North Carolina to Kentucky in February 2004. Set them in the shade. Long story short, 5 years later I sold one of these one-gallon plants and 18 years later it’s a big tree. And one of the remaining little guys from those original half dozen still is alive, still in it’s one gallon pot, and still not over knee high. Did not water nor care for them since 2003. They can be tough little buggers!
Try to keep them growing. Keep shifting them. Keep feeding them.
seed to about mid-June (before they stop their first growing cycle), get them shifted and feed them hard. Shift them again if you can.
I like personally I guess flats with 5-6" side walls. You can watch the seedling come up and you’ll know (whatever it is) after it sets a first true set of leaves (after Coteledyn), you can move it to a quart let’s say or instead go immediately to your 4" x 4" Rootmaker tray and watch closely so that they do not get rootbound but instead you’re just beginning to see white roots on the rootball’s outsides. Then shift to gallons! Feed em again. Do this all the same year.
About a month before your last frost, sow your tree seeds…
That’s about all there is to it. Raised beds and air-pruning beds work even better that are 24" or more. I stand in my raised beds and dig out grafted trees. 2-3 year old pecans are easily wiggled out out after you take a shovel to the first row. You put your hands deep into the raised bed and remove the plants in a swooping motion. keep wiggling on them and up they come.
A 5 year old paw paw will fetch a premium price. Just have to repeat it all every year. I would also get scions of every variety there is to be found. Plant those at your property and later you can sell scion as well.
Yes, I know Robert. There is a nursery a few hours away from me that sells them for $100-160 a piece (seedlings are $100, grafted up to $160). I will confess that I bought two seedlings from them (I don’t go on vacations… buying rare fruit trees are my hobby and work). That is where I got the idea from in the first place, lol. These had a few flowers this year and I was even able to pollinate one, but alas the fruit dropped. I’m hoping that I’ll get a few to stick next year:
And yes, I have been collecting and planting all the varieties that I can get my hands on. I also have seedlings planted so that I can just buy scion and graft to them (cheaper than buying them already grafted).
I also wanted to say that the main reason that I bought these was to see if they would transplant okay before I start trying it myself. The Paw Paws that I bought from @Hillbillyhort were a MUCH better deal (he really did me right) and don’t seem to be all that far behind these. I’m going to have to find some way to make it up to @Hillbillyhort !
I’m surrounded by millions of wild ones, but I’ve never had much luck digging them up. In pots they transplant pretty well, but like blueberry said they don’t really like pots. I would advise going with the bigger pots up front.
Hope it helped. I actually have more seedlings than I have any purpose for, once in awhile I have sold one or three for fifteen or twenty bucks apice. There is a good deal of variation in fruits from differing locations, etc. Sometimes if the seeds don’t come up the first year, they will germinate the following season…I’ve had it happen to maybe 10% of the seeds I’ve planted over the last 4 or 5 seasons.
I bought a seedling from a local nursery. 3 footer for $30 in 3 gal pot. No way I could have dug that and it short cut quite few years. Seems like a waste of time to walk out of a nursery empty handed.
We have paw paws growing everywhere on our 56 acres. Plus we cultivate them in a couple of places as well. First, it takes at least 7 years before they will produce. Second, you should move them to a deep pot as they like to run their roots deep, and don’t like to be transplanted, in my experience. I rarely eat them, but my wife loves them. I have tasted wine and beer made with them at the paw paw festival we have here in Ohio (near Athens). Good luck as they can be difficult.
Yes, I know that they take 7 years to produce, hence buying (and eventually selling) 6 yr old trees. I was at the Paw Paw Fest. last year and that’s where I ran into the guy who’s selling older trees. I got a lot of advice from him on how to do it (it was nice of him to share). Thanks for your input!
Size probably has more to do than age as for first bloom on the pawpaw.
If you can get one to 6 or 7 feet sooner than 6 years, it probably fruits before being 7 years old. And a 7 year old three feet tall is not going to produce anything. (The species native to Florida being an exception).
If you germinate the seed in flats and go to the landscape with the flat to direct transplant and face shade fabric to the south and west to keep them sun off for two years, you can very easily have 8-12 foot tall trees in less than 5-years.
One of the tricks is to jam a bamboo pole or anything as deep as you can to make a tunnel for the root to grow un-obstructed. plant the little seedling with fertilizer & never let the soil dry out all year so it continues to grow roots or foliage.
It’s the same way with all trees. push a stake into the ground for a long tunnel for the tap root to grow.
You can cheat by grafting from an older tree to the sapling. Cuts it to about 3 years before they bear. There are several folks at the festival that are fountains of knowledge. Look up Brad Bergefurd as he is usually hanging out and giving a talk or 2.
@Barkslip has some good advice as does @Blueberry. Moving them out of the shallow flats during the active growing season into either a permanent place or deep 15” grow bags s a good idea since the tsp root grows very fast and you do not want it to start curling around itself. Some of my seedlings that a friend gave me last year were about 8” high this spring with 8-10” tap roots, so it was time to transplant as soon as they leafed out well and the weather was above 70F.