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greenthumbomaha January 30, 2018 10:19 PM

PawPaw Seeds
My package of 5 seeds arrived from Baker Creek. The package had a baggie with a damp cloth inside.

I am assuming they went thru a cold period since the instructions say to plant them immediately and keep them warm. I'm going to start them in a 6 pack, one each, until they germinate. I'll find a large pot for each down the road.

What temperature do they need to germinate? Should I keep them on a heat mat 24/7 for 3 weeks? What medium works- Jiffy Seed Start , soil, or a heavier soil less peat potting mix, coir. coir with nutrients?

How wet do you keep it. kinda drippy like a tomato until they germinate or barely moist .

Thanks for any help!

- Lisa

clkeiper January 31, 2018 07:36 AM

Paw paws don't transplant well. they do not like their roots disturbed. try using large coir or peat pots so you can plant the whole thing. Do not drown the seeds while germinating them. just damp. not drippy. like you would wring out a dishcloth to wipe the table with... that kind of damp. you need two trees for pollination Good luck. I have one tree. the other got ripped out for a septic installation and I have never gotten a paw paw off of it.
as per KYSU bulletin:

Seed Propagation

Pawpaw seed is slow to germinate, but it is not difficult to grow seedlings if certain procedures are followed. Do not allow the seed to freeze or dry out, because this can destroy the immature, dormant embryo. If seeds are dried for 3 days at room temperature, the germination percentage can drop to less than 20%. To break dormancy, the seed must receive a period of cold, moist stratification for 70-100 days. This may be accomplished by sowing the seed late in the fall and letting it overwinter; the seed will germinate the following year in late July to late August. Another way is to stratify the seed in the refrigerator (32o- 40o F/0o- 4o C). In this case the cleaned seed should be stored in a plastic ziplock bag with a little moist sphagnum moss to keep the seed moist and suppress fungal and bacterial growth. After stratification the seed should be sown 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep in a well-aerated soil mix, pH 5.5-7, with an optimum temperature of 75o- 85oF (24o- 29o C). Use tall containers, such as tree pots (ht. 14"-18"/35-45 cm) or root trainers (ht. 10"/25 cm), to accommodate the long taproot. The seed will normally germinate in 2-3 weeks, and the shoot will emerge in about 2 months. Germination is hypogeal: the shoot emerges without any cotyledons. For the first two years, growth is slow as the root system establishes itself, but thereafter it accelerates. Trees normally begin to bear fruit when the saplings reach 6 feet, which usually requires five to eight years.

the whole page if you are interested.

pmcgrady January 31, 2018 10:36 AM

My seeds from a kind TV member are still in the fridge. I've been reading up on growing them and saw where a guy got 4 or 6 inch black plastic coragated drain pipe and cut them about 2 foot long put them in a plastic tote with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. He filled the pipes with potting soil and planted seed in each pipe. This allows the tap root to grow up to 2 feet. Sounds like pawpaws don't like full sun the first 2 years of growing so place the tote in shade or partial shade. When it comes time to plant in permanent spot cut off pipe and plant to correct depth.

greenthumbomaha January 31, 2018 11:55 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I called Baker Creek and the agent didn't have horticultural information. He wanted to send out an email to see if the seeds were pre-chilled prior to shipment, but I decided to place my own email inquiry.

Tank you for the reference, Carolyn. That was my starting point too. I guess it is the first hit on google. I went on to youtube and looked at the soil people were using for seed germination. Most looked like a compost or garden soil, but I don't have that available at this time. I need a bagged product in winter.

I did see the video with the french drain pipe. A few years ago I bought one with holes at a garage sale and only recently threw it out when I had to do a major clean up of the yard for vinyl siding installation. I also threw out my 6 tree pots (maybe I saved two) because a allowed them to store their equipment in my garage so it wouldn't get stolen. AarrrhQ!

I found another youtube from a woman that grows pawpaws and other tropicals.

Pawpaw Journey Germination to Seedlings

I like her style!

I'll just go ahead and use some Black Gold in a large 6 pack for now.

Nan_PA_6b January 31, 2018 01:37 PM


Originally Posted by clkeiper (Post 680660)
... you need two trees for pollination Good luck. I have one tree. the other got ripped out for a septic installation and I have never gotten a paw paw off of it...

I have two of the same variety, and they don't pollinate each other well.

1. What does work is using a Q-tip on the blossoms, the same Q-tip for all the blossoms, to spread the pollen around.

2. Just this year, some tiny flies have begun appearing in the blossoms, to help with pollination.

3. Mason bees are active about the time Pawpaws blossom, but I never had mason bees around.

4. Carrion flies are also listed as pollinators, but you'd need to put out rotten meat to attract them./puke (I've never tried this.)


carolyn137 January 31, 2018 05:25 PM

I barely saw the Paw Paw seeds title in passing and I thought that this is what was being referred to.

I was wrong.:lol:


PhilaGardener January 31, 2018 07:12 PM


Originally Posted by Nan_PA_6b (Post 680713)
Carrion flies are also listed as pollinators, but you'd need to put out rotten meat to attract them./puke (I've never tried this.)

The old Quakers in my neck of Penn's Woods would hang roadkill in the trees to attract these pollinators . . . :twisted:

pmcgrady January 31, 2018 07:27 PM

This may explain why there aren't any pawpaws around here,and they are native to this area. Persimmons are rare too, I only know of one in 300-400 acres of timber/ bottom ground.

greenthumbomaha February 1, 2018 12:00 PM

I tucked them in to peat pods as suggested above. This was a good idea as I will be able to better monitor germination. I only had a handful of the standard size pod (I do love the larger ones promoted for tomatoes though). The seeds took up almost half the pod and I carefully made a big hole so the top doesn't dry out. I soaked 5 pods, only to open the baggie and see there were six. I went back and soaked another pod and when I separated them I found there were 7 seeds. So soaked another pod and now the wait begins. One seed looked like it was trying to open as I saw white on the end.

Haven't heard back on the pre-shipment chill so fingers crossed. Hopefully the very cold weather we have didn't do any damage to the embryo in transport.


Nan_PA_6b February 1, 2018 04:19 PM

They're native here in Zone 6, so the seeds must be able to tolerate cold.


sliphorn February 1, 2018 08:47 PM


I've been growing pawpaws for decades and have several cultivars on my property. I love 'em. The fruit is luscious and very tropical tasting; banana/mango like. The problem with seedlings is you do not know what the quality of the fruit will be.

Keep those seeds moist and in the fridge and come springtime plant 'em in a deep container like a 2 liter pop bottle. In nature they are an understory tree. They typically will emerge late June to July and have a long tap root. To transplant, slice off the bottom of the pop bottle and push 'em into a hole. They will produce the most fruit if they get sun, so simply put a tomato cage around them and wrap it with burlap to protect them from the sun. After a year or two they are good to go.

Please know that are dirty trees with brittle wood that makes a mess, and they throw off tons of runners. In nature they create their own patch that way. I have never had any trouble with pollination and hanging dead critters or raw meat in the trees is not necessary. I get bushels and bushels of them every year. The fruit ripens on the tree and then falls to the ground, so you need to beat the critters to 'em if you want your fill. They can not be picked green.

They are very delicate and go bad quickly, though refrigeration will give you a few days of fresh fruit. The pulp can also be frozen and/or made into sorbet......Outstanding. When cooked they lose their flavor because of their volatile compounds. Man, I love pawpaws. It's my favorite time of year when my pawpaws begin to ripen in late September. I'd suggest you purchase two different grafted, named cultivars for success. Stark Bros has a decent selection.

Good luck.

sliphorn February 1, 2018 08:54 PM


Originally Posted by pmcgrady (Post 680771)
This may explain why there aren't any pawpaws around here,and they are native to this area. Persimmons are rare too, I only know of one in 300-400 acres of timber/ bottom ground.


I have a friend that lives in Chester, IL, south of St Louis on the high bluffs of the Mississippi river and he has shown me several very large stands of native pawpaws. There's nothing like foraging for pawpaws in late summer early fall. Scrumptious! There's loads of native persimmon there too. Life is good.


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