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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (Answered!)

1. I am transplanting a pawpaw tree. What sort of hole should I dig?
2. What sort of soil does a pawpaw need? Can it grow in clay? Sand? pH?
3. How should I care for my pawpaw tree the first year it's been planted?
4. How tall will my pawpaw tree grow?
5. How long will it take for my pawpaw tree to bear fruit?
6. How and when do I fertilize pawpaw trees?
7. Do pawpaw trees come in male and female types?
8. Do I need two trees (varieties) for pollination?
9. I have a pawpaw tree that has never/seldom borne fruit. What's wrong with it??

1. I am transplanting a pawpaw tree. What sort of hole should I dig?

Dig a hole twice as wide as the diameter of the root ball, and with a depth only as deep as the roots. Loosen the soil thoroughly. [If you have clay soil this may be difficult, but possible when your soil moisture is just right.] Generally, it is better NOT to add any amendments to the soil. [However, if you are an experienced gardener with success at planting trees, who uses amendments, continue doing whatever is working for you.] Sift the soil around and among the roots completely, eliminating air pockets. Build a circular berm around tree at the edge of the hole, and fill the berm with water, creating a small pond. This will thoroughly water the roots and will eliminate air pockets.

2. What sort of soil does a pawpaw need? Can it grow in clay? Sand? pH?

The best soil for pawpaw is a deep, rich, humusy loam with good drainage and a steady moisture supply. Fortunately, pawpaws are adaptable and will tolerate many different soils including heavy clay or sand. They do not tolerate water logged soils, however. Avoid sites where water stands for periods of time. Sandy soils possess good drainage but present problems of low fertility and low moisture holding capacity. The soil acidity should be in the range of pH 5.5 to 7.0.

3. How should I care for my pawpaw tree the first year it's been planted?

Keep all weeds away for at least 18 inches ( meter). Freedom from weeds is the #1 rule. Rule #2 is keep the tree is well watered, especially during dry spells.

4. How tall will my pawpaw tree grow?

Pawpaws are a short statured tree, typically 15-20 feet tall. That's without pruning. Naturally there is variation in size.

5. How long will it take for my pawpaw tree to bear fruit?

Usually 3 or 4 years. The first year the young tree is just recovering from transplant shock. If the tree flowers the next spring, don't permit any fruits to form. Encourage the tree to send its energy reserves into the roots and shoots. In the long run, a great root system and good branching structure will produce more fruit.

6. How and when do I fertilize pawpaw trees?

Do not fertilize the pawpaw trees in the first year of being transplanted. An exception to this rule is that if the tree is putting out vigorous growth, then you can apply a light fertilizer up through July. Foliar fertilization is generally acceptable in the first year. In later years, you can fertilize more heavily. Nitrogen is the most commonly deficient nutrient in the soil. Nitrogen should be applied in the spring in one or two applications, at the rate of 50 lbs N to the acre, or the equivalent of 1 ounce N to 50 square feet. Applications of other nutrients depends on the relative availability of each. During heavy fruiting years, the trees are depleting the soil of certain nutrients, and those need to be resupplied to the soil.

7. Do pawpaw trees come in male and female types?

No. The flowers on each tree develop both male and female organs - anthers for pollen and ovaries for eggs.

8. Do I need two trees (varieties) for pollination?

Yes. Scientists have not determined whether there are any clones (varieties) that are self fertile.

9. I have a pawpaw tree that has never/seldom borne fruit. What's wrong with it?

Probably your tree lacks a pollinator. Root suckers off the tree in question are genetically identical to the main tree, and are therefore incapable of dependably pollinating your tree. Another problem can be a lack of suitable pollinators, which are various species of flies and beetles. A third reason is simple bad luck of genetics; some wild trees just don't set fruit.

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For questions regarding pawpaws, email: neal@petersonpawpaws.com