Fact Sheet from
the Just Fruits and Exotics Nursery
by Brandy Cowley Gilbert
rare find. The Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is one of this country's most
over-looked fruits. Native to most parts of the United States, the
Pawpaw thrives with little or no care. It is a small (12-20 feet tall),
deciduous tree with a pyramidal shape. The fruit is 4 to 5 inches long
with a custard smooth, white to apricot flesh. Delicious and complex
banana-like flavor is awesome. The fruit is usually eaten fresh, but
may also be used for making custard pies and preserves.
pollination is worth knowing something about. Now these are truly
strange trees. Two trees are needed for cross-pollination. Their
favorite pollinator is the green bottle fly. Some growers have gone to
great lengths to attract this shy creature. One noteworthy method is to
place rotten hamburger in buckets around the tree for a few weeks
before bloom to build up the fly colony. Whew! Must be a better way!
(We also hand pollinate using small brushes to transfer pollen between
Uses in the Landscape
trees are an under story tree with a neat pyramidal shape (to 20 feet
tall) and tawnygold fall leaf color. So add them as a lower layer in
your edible forest of chestnut, mulberry and pecan. Spot them in
clearings in your woods, where they’ll get some shade when young.
They are small, so you can fit them into a restricted area along a
fence or tree-line. Or add them to your butterfly garden; they are a
host plant of the fabulous Zebra Swallowtail.
Planting and Culture
prefer acidic soil with good organic content. Avoid heavy, wet, clay or
alkaline soils. Young trees require partial shade, so choose a place
with filtered sun or with shade from the west. You can also put plants
under shade cloth for the first two years, after which they actually
prefer full sun. Plant 15-20 feet apart for best results—these
will be small trees that need to be close to one another to fruit
Soil Preparation and Planting
prefer slightly acid soil (pH 4.2-5.5) with good organic matter
content. If you are in doubt about the acidity of your soil, take a
sample to the Cooperative Extension Agent in your county for a soil
Dig a planting hole approximately three times the width of
the pot and at the same depth as the root ball. Set that soil aside and
mix it 50/50 with peat moss or rotted pine bark. Remove the plant from
the pot and place in the planting hole.
Pawpaws have a deep tap root and are difficult to transplant; use care in handling your new plant to keep the root ball intact.
avoid burying too deep, make sure plant is positioned with the top most
roots at the soil line. Fill the planting hole with the mix of soil and
organic matter; gently tamp it in. Water thoroughly to settle the roots
and eliminate air pockets. Do NOT put fertilizer in the planting hole.
Only apply fertilizer if it is the correct time of year (see
Fertilization section below).
If desired, construct a water basin
around the base of the tree approximately 36 inches in diameter. Mulch
in spring and summer with approximately 4-6 inches of acidic mulch
(pine bark or leaves). Pull mulch a couple of inches away from the
trunk for good air circulation.
type of fertilizer you choose may be chemical or organic. Look for a
fertilizer meant for Acid Loving trees and make sure the fertilizer
contains iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, copper and
boron. These minor elements are very important to plants and most soils
are low in these elements. Application rates vary according to age of
|10-8-8 with minerals for|
|1 cup per each year of tree’s life|
Max out at 9 cups for Mature tree
|Espoma Holly Tone|
|6 cups for 1 year old|
10 cups for 2 year old (4-6ft)
18 cups for 7-9ft tree
24 cups for tree over 9ft
the fertilizer evenly under the entire canopy of the plant avoiding a
5-inch area around the trunk. Water or rake in. For Zones 8a-10,
fertilize 3 times each year in late February, late May and late
July/early August. For plants further north (Zone 7), fertilize 2 times
each year in March and June/July. Never fertilize after August (July in
Zone 7) as this will promote new growth late in the year which will be
subject to freeze damage.
first year is a critical time for the establishment of a new pawpaw.
Water thoroughly twice a week on light soils and once a week on clay
soils. Soak the entire root system deeply – this usually takes
40-50 minutes. Pawpaws should receive at least 1 inch of water each
week for best growth and fruit production. Water regularly, especially
during dry periods. Fruit may drop prematurely if insufficiently
irrigated during dry spells. Growth will be fastest in moist, but well
Pruning and Care
have few pests and diseases. Occasional pruning is necessary to open
the center of thetree for greater light and air penetration. Remove
crossing, dead or damaged branches as needed. In adult trees, periodic
pruning to stimulate new growth is done to enhance fruit production,
because fruit is produced on the previous season’s growth.
ripe fruit is soft and thin-skinned with a sweet fragrance. It should
yield easily to a gentle squeeze and the green skin has usually
lightened in tone. The fruit may develop blackish splotches, but these
do not affect flavor or edibility. Pawpaws ripen in August-September.
We gather the seed for this variety from the North Florida area. It
reliably fruits in Zones 8B and 9. Fruit varies in size from 3-5 inches
with a pale yellow flesh. Excellent flavor. Two trees are required for
pollination. Ripens late August-September. Zones 7-9.