I know native is not the prime motivation when picking plants, however, I would like to know whether anyone knows if paw-paw trees grow well in Wisconsin. I am about 20 miles from Lake Michigan and it looks as if I am on the edge of the hardiness zone. I have prairie planted for grazing horses and would like to do at least partial natives in my forest garden. Still in the planning stages. Also, any suggestions for permaculture planners around Waukesha, WI?
We picked up two Paw Paws today from our local native plant nursery. The nursery carries plants and trees from American Beauties native plants, www.abnativeplants.com Their hardiness is listed as Zones 5-9. We are 5-6, so they should grow well here.
We only recently got interested in permaculture, having been inspired by Gaia's Garden, and are using native edible plants exclusively for our erosion control on our slope and its bottom area. We have what might be a very good microclimate for the Paw Paw, so we are hopeful. The area we are dealing with is forest edge.
Good luck in your forest garden planning and planting.
I don't see why native would not be a high priority in selecting plants for a food forest. Most native fruits are under-used.
Here's some information. You might be able to find cuttings from a National Germplasm source.
The one thing they do have is a little tip dieback every winter and since it doesn't seem to matter whether it was a cold or warm winter, I think it's from the fall rather than the winter. Down where I am in Missouri, the pawpaws we have their leaves turn yellow and go dormant like they should, but up in MN they stay green like summer right until the first freeze which blackens them, so I think they don't go dormant in time with that short a season. However the growth each year they got has been way more then any dieback on the ones that have done well.
i really hate to continue to buy things that just aren't going to make it here though
I believe these are trees needing nurse trees their entire life cycle. At least in upstate NY zone 6, that is how they appear in the wild. I would assume the large leaves can gather enough solar energy to survive without being in direct sunlight, and may be to delicate for intense sun unprotected.
Only my observation and opinion, but the 24 revival did give me hope that it is happy where it is now. Just a 16 foot move put it in the correct microclimate. We will see how they survive during the winter.
If you want a quicker fix then buy a grafted Pawpaw tree. For superior cultivars with larger fruit and more flesh/less seeds, check out the work of Neal Peterson. Happy Pawpaw growing
From Edible Landscaping Online:
Note from a customer in Northfield, MN
"I live in Northfield, Minnesota, and my experience with paw paws is
pretty easily summarized:
1) Grafted cultivars do not do well; they tend to die off or grow
poorly (I've tried Davis, Pennsylvania Golden, NC-1, and others)
2) Specimens grown from seed do just fine, but tend to experience some
The problem with seedlings is that there's no way to know if they'll
fruit early enough in Minnesota to be useful. You just have to plant
them, let them grow, and see.
Ditto for the taste. No way to know.
I have no fruiting plants right now (one tree is just getting to the
point where it could bear).
My largest is about six feet tall and has been in the ground for two and
a half years (planted when it was maybe three feet tall).
There's no magic bullet in zone 4. You just have to try things.
I wish I had a half acre I could just plant with these and other
interesting/marginal trees and let nature take its course, but in fact
all I have is a small lot in town.
I am enjoying myself, though."
We're in central VT - been zone 4 historically, more like 5 now. I am not at all sure we've found the most hardy strains though. Have some from Cornell that I started from seed last year and will transplant this year. We'll see...
Very edge though.
pawpaws do respond to warm summers. here in west. pa , 2 years ago we had a cool summer(very few days > 90F) and i had fruit still green at the end of October. this past year we had a warm summer (several days >90F) and all the fruit ripened by the first week of October.
when planting seed outside in the fall in cold climate one has to be concerned about freezing the seed. this can also do them in. but i have had seed germinate this way
I stratify my seed in the fridge over winter (Oct-March)
stratified pawpaw seed planted in the ground are slow to germinate in cool soil. they usually respond better when soil temp is close to 70F. starting them in pots in a warm place gives them a better chance for northern growers. deep pot 10 in or so, to allow for that taproot.
in my opinion, "named grafted varieties" of pawpaws are over hyped. I bought seedlings from Edible Landscaping, in Virginia 20+ years ago. The fruit is as good or better than some fruit I tasted last year from "Peterson's named varieties" I think seedlings from trees that produce good fruit will produce OK
they not taste exactly the same but will be good. part of the mystique of pawpaws is the variation of flavors from tree to tree.
If you want monotonous consistency, plant red delicious apples
I really would love to have them growing here..but not going to spend more $ on plants.
I like the idea of using a nurse plant to shade them in the first few years. Been thinking something like goumie that you can later copice and will fix nitrogen.
the ones I put in from seed never sprouted and the one that I put in 2 years ago from a tiny little plant is still "alive" ..but still very very very tiny
i've been digging up (with my hands) some seedlings to give to some friends. they sprouted from some fruit that ended up in a flower bed. seeds planted may sprout in the second year if the first year was too cool and the second year nice and warm.
roots of pawpaw seedlings start out looking like carrots, one big taproot with a few side shoots. the problems are the root is easily broken and a lack of root hairs. the root hairs only start forming in the spring when the plant starts growing. that's why transplanting in summer or fall is iffy. any roothairs damaged are not replaced until it starts growing again in the spring.
the seedlings are sometimes slow to show any topgrowth the first few years. the roots are establishing themselves first. a good mulch with decaying leaves and wood to provide fungal friends will aid in their growth
i've been growing pawpaws for about 20 years here in west pa (north of Pittsburgh)
pawpaws remind people like a lot of things banana, mango , mellon, pear, pineapple, but really taste unique.
each tree (unless grafted) tastes different. the mix of flavors may be more mango (some varieties even use the name) while others favor banana or some other flavor. but they all taste like pawpaw.
Pawpaw are members of the custard apple family. the texture of a pawpaw is custard or pudding like. I tell people "it's banana pudding on a tree" and when they're really ripe, that's a good description.
they ripen like a banana and people may or may not like them depending on degree of ripeness. imagine trying to sell bananas to someone who has never had one and all you had were overripe black bananas.
some people are also turned off by the "pudding like texture" and richness. (who can each a bowl of banana pudding pie filling?)
making things like ice cream, smoothies,pies ,etc allow you to dilute them but still enjoy the flavor.
freezing is the favored way of preserving them,as the pulp freezes well with little loss of flavor. I froze a number of them whole last fall and were giving tastes of them and free seeds to plant at the local Earth Day this past weekend. (about 300 people found about the word "hugelkultur" for the first time also)
I give talks at local fairs promoting pawpaws as the perfect backyard fruit tree, no spraying, little pruning, not bothered by pests, small managable tree for backyards