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Plant Manual for Sunflower Pawpaw

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Plant Description

Delicious 3-6" fruits. This reliable and productive variety offers pawpaws with greenish yellow skin, buttery flesh and only a few seeds. Fruit has a creamy, banana custard flavor and carries a good dose of vitamins, minerals and protein. Tree bears in just 2-3 years! Cold-hardy. Ripens in late September to early October. Grafted. For proper pollination, plant another grafted pawpaw variety.

Acclimate

Plants grown in a greenhouse must be acclimated carefully before planting or placing them outdoors. This is especially true in hot or sunny locations. Many species should never be grown in full sun. Before purchasing a plant, learn about its sun requirements. Knowing the plants requirements can avoid any damage to the plant by incorrectly giving it the wrong conditions.

If your plant has been grown in a greenhouse, here are a few steps we recommend you follow:

  • After purchasing your plant, place it outside in a sheltered, shady spot or on your back porch.
  • Leave it there for 3-4 hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by 1-2 hours per day.
  • Bring the plants back indoors each night.
  • Water it regularly to keep the plant moist.
  • Occasionally spray the leaves with water.
  • After 2-3 days, move the plants from their shady spot into morning sun, returning them to the shade in the afternoon.
  • After 7 days, the plants should be able to handle the outdoor temperatures, if they stay around 50 degress F.
  • After 7-10 days, your plant is ready to be planted in its permanent location. Try to do this on a cloudy day and be sure to water the plant well.
  • Observe foliage daily. If any type of leaf discoloration occurs, put the plant back into filtered light and attempt this step at a later date.
  • Special care must be taken to avoid burning the leaves.

These are general guide recommendations. Some plants take longer than others to acclimate.

Planting

Successfully establishing a young fruit tree in your yard starts with your planting site and method. Once a fruit tree is established, it needs little assistance to grow and bear fruit; but you’ll want to make sure you give your trees the right foundation.

Stark trees that are grown and shipped in bottomless pots are part of our continuing quest for producing better and stronger trees for the home grower. By following these simple instructions, you will be assured of getting your young tree off to the best possible start.

Fruit trees require fertile soil for good growth, so before you plant, check your soil pH. Contact your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. Pawpaw trees enjoy a soil pH of 5.5-7.0. Steer clear of soils that are extremely heavy or poorly drained.

Before Planting

  • When your tree arrives, carefully take it out of the package, making sure not to damage any of the branches. The potted tree has been watered prior to shipment and should arrive moist, but it does need another drink when it arrives at your home. Be sure the container is moist clear through. If you can’t plant your tree immediately upon arrival, keep the pot moist until you can plant it and keep the tree in a sheltered location. DO NOT place your potted tree in a bucket of water. This could cause the roots to rot, and kill your tree.
  • Your tree is ready for planting as soon as it arrives at your home. Simply grasp the sides of the container and carefully slide the tree out. The potting soil should remain intact around the tree’s roots. You will want to keep this soil with the tree and plant it, soil and all, into the prepared hole.
  • The first year is critical for a pawpaw. Protection from direct sun by shading the first few growing seasons is highly recommended. Use a wooden shingle, evergreen bough, or a screen with mini fence or similar method to provide shade. Plant two different varieties to assure proper pollination.

Planting Steps

  • Space your trees 15-25 feet apart, depending on variety.
  • Dig the hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room. (Keep the topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it’ll do the most good.)
  • Roots grow better in soil that’s been loosened, so mix in our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium into your pile of topsoil. You can also use dehydrated cow mature, garden compost or peat moss (up to 1/2 concentration).
  • Plant the same depth as grown in nursery row or in pot.
  • Fill the hole, putting the topsoil back in first. You can avoid creating air pockets by working the soil carefully around the roots and tamping down firmly.
  • Create a rim of soil around the planting hole 2” above ground level. This allows water to stand and soak in. (In the fall, spread soil evenly around tree to prevent damage from water freezing around the plant.)

Post-Planting

  • Fertilize sparingly with Stark® Tre-Pep® Fertilizer. (If planting in the fall, wait to fertilize until spring for best results.) This effective starter fertilizer helps trees and plants grow quickly and vigorously. After watering, if soil compacts, be sure to add enough soil to fill the hole to ground level.
  • No pruning is necessary at planting time.

Pollination

A pawpaw’s flowers have both male and female reproduction parts, but they are not self-pollinating. Also, the female stigma may mature and no longer be receptive when the male pollen is shed. They do require cross-pollination from another pawpaw tree. Bees have little interest in pawpaws; flies and beetles can do some pollination. The best solution is to pollinate by hand. Male pollen is ripe when the ball of anthers is brownish in color and loose. When collected, pollen grains will appear as small, beige-colored particles on the hairs of an artist’s brush. The female part of the flower is receptive when the tips of the pistils are green, glossy and sticky.

Fertilizing

Pawpaws are sensitive to fertilizer their first couple of years, so apply Stark® Tre-Pep® sparingly. After your tree is more mature, follow the guidelines below.

Fertilizing Tips

  • For optimal growth and fruit production, fertilize 2 times each year (March and June) with a well balanced fertilizer.
  • Spread the fertilizer evenly under the entire canopy, avoiding a 2-inch area around the trunk.
  • Water or rake the fertilizer into the soil.
  • Do not fertilize after the first of July, as this may promote new growth late in the year that could be subject to freeze damage.

Insects and Diseases

Every fruit tree has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your tree encounters. If available, disease-resistant trees are the best option for easy care; and for all trees, proper maintenance (such as watering, fertilizing, pruning, spraying, weeding, and fall cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.

Adequate nutrition is as much a tool in disease control as the use of sprays. Plants deficient in potassium, phosphorous and magnesium are more susceptible to attack by black spot and powdery mildew. Simply increasing the potassium (sulphate of potash and/or lucerne mulch), phosphorous (rock phosphate or chicken manure) and magnesium levels (Epsom salts) helps to make plants more resistant to disease. Pawpaws are most susceptible to black spot disease during the cooler months. Spraying with sulphur or copper based compounds prior to the onset of the cool weather and watering with liquid seaweed can help reduce the severity of infestations.

Black Spot

Disease causing defoliation and black spots on leaves and thrives in moist conditions. Twigs may also be infected. Black spots are circular with fringed margins, if severe, spots can combine to cause a large black mass, can weaken and kill plants.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Powdery Mildew

Whitish-gray powdery mold or felt like patches on buds, young leaves and twigs. Leaves may crinkle and curl upward. New shoots are stunted.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control

Asimina Webworm Moth

Caterpillar feeds on leaves, buds and twigs.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar

Caterpillar appears initially all black before developing black and yellow stripes and feeds on the underside of leaves.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Pruning

Most potted fruit trees need very little initial pruning, but as the trees get older, corrective pruning may be necessary. The top two reasons you should prune your pawpaw tree is for stimulation and shaping.

Keep these pointers in mind:

  • The best time to prune is late winter or early spring, when the tree is dormant..
  • Corrective pruning consists of removing broken, interfering, dead, or diseased branches.
  • Since pawpaw fruit is produced on new growth, annual pruning will stimulate new growth on older trees.

Spraying

Spraying is important to the survival of your trees. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control for powdery mildew.

Watering

The following guidelines can be used to ensure your pawpaw tree receives the proper amount of water during it’s life cycle.

General Guidelines

  • Pawpaw trees need about 1" of rain per week so keep an eye on the weather. If rainfall is inadequate, you’ll need to supplement with water from a hose. The best way to do this is to let your garden hose trickle slowly. This gives the water a chance to soak in instead of running off. You can also use a soaker hose to water several trees at once.
  • Avoid letting the soil dry completely.
  • Avoid over watering.
  • Premature fruit drop is more likely to occur during dry spells.

Harvesting

Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit from your tree, and how to store the fruit.

When to Harvest

This native North American fruit has delicious custard like flavor. Pawpaws normally start bearing fruit in the sixth or seventh year, so have patience and reap the rewards in a few years.

Pawpaws begin to ripen mid-August thru September. Harvest them when they are soft to the touch. If you give the pawpaw a gentle squeeze the skin will usually lighten from green to yellow or brown. Occasionally they will develop blackish splotches. These splotches do not affect the quality of the fruit.

Annual average yield per tree: 1-3 bushels, 9 pounds at 5 years old.

Storage

Pawpaws will keep for 2 to 3 days if picked ripe. If not fully ripe, they will keep up to 3 weeks refrigerated.


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Which option is best for me?

Bare-root Trees

Trees that are shipped without soil to ensure good contact with soil in your yard. When shipped, they are about 3-4' tall with 3/8" or larger trunk diameter. When they mature, they will be one of three sizes*:

Dwarf

Matures to be about 8-10' tall and wide. Provides an abundance of full-size fruit.

Semi-Dwarf

Matures to be about 12-15' tall and wide. Gives maximum fruit yield per square foot.

Standard

Matures to be about 15-25' tall and 20' wide. A multi-purpose fruit and shade tree.

Stark Supreme Tree®

Top-grade, bare-root trees that give you a head start on growing. When shipped, they are about 4-5' tall with 5/8" or larger trunk diameter.

EZ Start® Potted Trees

Trees in bottomless pots that allow some roots to be air pruned, so that a dense mass of productive, feeder roots can grow within the pot to make transplanting easier. Mature sizes vary. When shipped, they are about 1-2' tall.

Select EZ Start® Potted Trees

Top-grade, potted trees chosen to give you a head start on growing. When shipped to you, they are about 3-4' tall.

*Tree sizes may vary by variety. See our Growing Guide for details.