Growing Pawpaws

A few tips for growing pawpaws at your place.

| July/August 2011

  • Pawpaw Bud in Bloom
    Grafting pawpaws might be the way to go to make sure your tree bears quality fruit before it's too late.
    Bill Johnson

  • Pawpaw Bud in Bloom

Pawpaws are quite hardy, and strains native to the northern part of their range, from Nebraska through Michigan and into southwestern Ontario, Canada, are able to withstand temperatures down to minus 25. It is doubtful that strains from the Deep South are this hardy. 

Pawpaws do not do well in areas that have low humidity, strong winds or cool marine climates. They do best when planted in rich, well-drained soil in a location protected from wind. Pawpaws are normally found in wooded areas and often form dense thickets. Although the pawpaw trees that get the most sun usually produce the most fruit, when the trees are small they should be protected from intense sunlight. Planting them about five to 10 feet from the north side of a house, garage or similar building is often ideal. If you plant pawpaw trees in the open, they should be protected from direct sun for at least the first two years.

You can grow pawpaws from seeds or transplants. Seeds tend to be cheaper. Just plant three to five seeds 1 to 2 inches deep in the fall, in a permanent location. If you wish to plant the seeds in the spring, make
sure they have gone through a 3- to 4-month cold period (stratification) before planting.

The downside with planting pawpaw seeds is that you won’t know a tree’s qualities until it starts bearing fruit. To overcome this, you can choose grafted trees. One grafted variety, Convis, is said to produce pawpaws up to a pound each. Many other varieties are available, but may take some searching to find.

Pawpaws require cross-pollination for fruit set, so plant at least two different varieties for best results. Or, if you plant seeds, plant at least two viable seeds; if you plant grafted varieties, you must plant two different varieties or one grafted pawpaw along with a seedling.

Pawpaw trees normally do not begin bearing fruit until they are 5 years old. However, well-grown grafted varieties sometimes begin bearing earlier. 

Hans Quistorff
9/20/2011 11:59:05 PM

Although I live in a marine climate, I have a sheltered southern exposure that generally breaks out of the fog. I have soil that goes from clay flood plain to light sand gravel. Which would be best? I can plant them north of plum trees which would shelter them from direct sun until they grow taller than the sheltering plums.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds