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Where to plant a paw paw?

 
Posts: 57
Location: Mid-Missouri
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I'm in mid-Missouri, and just got 4 seedlings from Forrest Keeling, but I'm not sure where to plant them. The soil here is heavy clay, and I've been told the seedlings like well-drained soil + shade when young but full sun when mature for better fruiting. Problem is, if I plant them in a draw where I've got some standing trees and more organic matter they will be in shade their whole life from the hickories and oaks, but if I plant them on higher ground they will have heavier clay soil, though I can then shade cloth them for some protection from the full sun.

Where would be best? That is, what's more important, and are my sources correct on their needs? If I place them under shade cloth, what percentage should I use?

Thanks Michael! Perfect timing on your book :)
 
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Bryan,
I had the same dilemma a few years ago when I planted 4 paw paws in my backyard. I opted to plant them on the side of a large maple tree-- so they would get some shade, but the backfire is that now they don't get enough light and are growing very slowly. They are in a row and you can directly see the growth effect of the shade from other trees. Trees need light! Duh-- These paw paws may never mature in my lifetime! If I had to do over, I would plant in sunny spot--and just cover with shade cloth when young. Oh well, backyard homesteading is an experiment, right?
 
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Location: Frederick, Maryland
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Bryan de Valdivia wrote:I'm in mid-Missouri, and just got 4 seedlings from Forrest Keeling, but I'm not sure where to plant them. The soil here is heavy clay, and I've been told the seedlings like well-drained soil + shade when young but full sun when mature for better fruiting. Problem is, if I plant them in a draw where I've got some standing trees and more organic matter they will be in shade their whole life from the hickories and oaks, but if I plant them on higher ground they will have heavier clay soil, though I can then shade cloth them for some protection from the full sun.

Where would be best? That is, what's more important, and are my sources correct on their needs? If I place them under shade cloth, what percentage should I use?

Thanks Michael! Perfect timing on your book :)



Defiantly full sun. Draining clay soil is fine, challenge us not so much direct sun after the first year as it is adequate moisture, aka tons of organic matter. Be cautious of windy sites which desiccate paw paws large luscious leaves and inhibit pollination.

Your seedling is at least one year old so it is heavily mulched and not exposed to drying winds “technically” no shading is needed. I think the repeated need for shade on paw paws after the first year is because folks aren’t providing sufficient moisture retention, aka MASS mulch.
What I recommend is a minimum of 3-4 foot diameter mulch ring 8-10 inches deep, whatever you got- wood chips , straw, leaves, bought mulch, just lay it on wide and deep- imitate that forest floor.  
 
Bryan de Valdivia
Posts: 57
Location: Mid-Missouri
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Thanks Wayne! Thanks Michael! Appreciate both your insights. Full sun it is, and I'll pick a spot on a slope so it can help with drainage. Will also do a heck of a lot of mulch.
 
gardener
Posts: 895
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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Full sun.  (babies shade the first year or so)

When I started planting paw paws about 7 years ago I read a lot about them.  They are generally an understory tree and forest edge tree when found in nature, so that's the type of sites I used for my first paw paw seedlings.
Then as I bought more, I tried other locations including full sun.    The ones I planted at forest's edge have barely grown (two feet or less) the ones in full sun to lightly shaded top out at 10 feet, and those are the younger trees.

The first year I put tomato cages around them with translucent plastic over them to shade some, but in full sun this year with no damage.
 
pollinator
Posts: 173
Location: WNC 6b
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We just purchased 5 paw paws this past summer. They are all still in pots. Hoping to find an superb space for them. Full sun is ok? That's def helpful. I was thinking more understorey too. Then I heard it stunts their growth. Lots of large mulch rings. I am so pumped to learn more about these amazing trees.

We live in zone 7b. Should I plant now? or wait until fall?
Thinking I should wait..
 
Posts: 30
Location: Vancouver Canada zone 8b
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Just a quick question. Planted some seeds in spring of this year and the two that survived are now a few inches high. Do I need to protect them from frost snow and otherwise miserable weather in zone 8 Pacific Northwest? They are both planted outdoors in a forest clearing. Also another question.  One of the sites is in a depression has become waterlogged from a week of rain. Should I worry about lack of oxygen for the roots? Thanks
 
Cris Bessette
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Posts: 895
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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Cameron Whyte wrote:Just a quick question. Planted some seeds in spring of this year and the two that survived are now a few inches high. Do I need to protect them from frost snow and otherwise miserable weather in zone 8 Pacific Northwest? They are both planted outdoors in a forest clearing. Also another question.  One of the sites is in a depression has become waterlogged from a week of rain. Should I worry about lack of oxygen for the roots? Thanks




I would worry more about water than temperature.  
Make sure they don't dry out the first few years so they have a chance to get their roots dug in.  Definitely would try to rectify the situation with the waterlogged one.

Personally, given your situation, I might put a bucket or something over them to keep them from being damaged physically by having weight of snow on them, but they are not going to freeze.
 
Cris Bessette
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Posts: 895
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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Sena Kassim wrote:We just purchased 5 paw paws this past summer. They are all still in pots. Hoping to find an superb space for them. Full sun is ok? That's def helpful. I was thinking more understorey too. Then I heard it stunts their growth. Lots of large mulch rings. I am so pumped to learn more about these amazing trees.

We live in zone 7b. Should I plant now? or wait until fall?
Thinking I should wait..



I'm not clear on your location, but here in the USA it is already fall, and yes, this is the time to get trees in the ground.  
Like I said in my previous message, I've had the best results and growth in full sun.

They should be shaded the first season just to let them more gently acclimate to your climate vs the climate where the grower had them.
Water them occasionally if you have a dry winter, but they will be fine in 7B and will be dormant through winter.

 
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