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Feb 1, 2021 7:00 PM CST
Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
Birds Houseplants
I've never grown a fruit tree before, but have read a little about the Paw Paw and am very interested in growing them.

Anyone ever grow them have some tips and tricks?

We plan to buy a mature tree. Not really sure where to put it in our yard. And is it necessary to have 2 trees? I have a very pollinator-friendly garden.

My soil is clay. My front yard is wide open and is west facing, getting all the afternoon sun, but there is some cover from large maples in my next door neighbor's yard. It's at the upper end of a gradual downward slope, so doesn't collect water.

Thanks for any input or suggestions!
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Feb 1, 2021 7:16 PM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
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From what I read, you are going to have trouble. They enjoy a deep, rich, well draining soil. They like soil in the ph range of 5.5-7.0.
How are you going to improve your clay soil?
Good luck!
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Feb 2, 2021 1:06 AM CST

The first big problem you are going to have with pawpaw is pollination. To put it blunty butterflies, bumblebees and bees have no interest in its flowers: pollination is carried out by blowflies and carrion beetles, neither of which is a particularly efficient pollinator so pollination is a relatively rare event. On top of this it's a self-sterile plant, meaning you'll need two cultivars in the garden for pollination.

The second big problem is location. Pawpaw likes shady, rich bottomlands near rivers. It's a fussy plant: nurseries here routinely push them aggressively as a "miracle fruit" but since people plant it like they would an apple or pear tree it doesn't last long. There are cultivars selected to be grown in various US states like Pennsylvania and Kentucky and I suggest you look into those selected to grow in Virginia.

The third big problem is price. Pawpaw are expensive trees, sometimes very expensive trees, and they need to be bought in pairs. I would never recommend them to somebody with little or no experience in growing fruit trees: while they are relatively trouble-free in the ideal growing conditions their low pollination rate (fruits you find at farmers' market are usually hand pollinated) and especially need for very specific growing conditions make them unsuited as beginner's fruit trees.
The Saviour.
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Feb 4, 2021 6:00 PM CST
Name: Sally
central Maryland (Zone 7b)
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Bria,
I was curious about pawpaws, even wrote an article for Dave's Garden, which convinced me not to try growing them in my yard. They are actually very common in woods in my area when you learn to ID them. They are found very close to rivers or streams, under other trees, and I have seen them bloom but finding a ripe fruit is elusive. I once saw ripe fruit fallen at Flag Ponds in Calvert Co, MD, since then I am never there at the right time, or never see developing fruit on the trees- lots of fruitless leafy branches.
ElPollo is right.

I think pear and cherry are supposed to be less problematic around here than some. I tried peach and plum, cannot commit to spraying and proper pruning, and brown rot took over.
If you loved me half as much as I love you, you wouldn't worry me half as much as you do...
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Feb 5, 2021 8:07 AM CST
Name: Bria
Northern VA (Zone 7a)
Birds Houseplants
Thanks so much for this super helpful input, guys! I had no idea this would be such a challenging tree.

We'll have to find something else to grow. Maybe, pears or cherries as you suggest, Sally!

I also need to figure out where I can buy the paw paw fruit! I had my heart set on making icecream with it, admittedly, my main reason for wanting to grow it! 🤦‍♀️
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Feb 5, 2021 6:17 PM CST
Name: Sally
central Maryland (Zone 7b)
Let's all play ukulele
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
Good luck, I don't think anyone sells it. Maybe at very rare times, July August? at some way out produce stand...
Start scouting local woods, near rivers, learn to ID it, then watch for fruit. The unusual flowers will be the first easy sign. late March?
If you loved me half as much as I love you, you wouldn't worry me half as much as you do...
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