Pawpaw fruit has a creamy texture similar to that of a banana, though its skin is similar to that of a mango. Although it seems like a tropical fruit, it is actually native to the northeastern United States and thrives in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8. Preparing pawpaw seeds for germination can be a difficult task, but once they have evolved to seedlings, pawpaw plants are easy to raise with regular care.
Things You'll Need
- Sphagnum peat moss
- Spray bottle
- Resealable zipper bag
- Planting pot
- Potting soil
- 20-20-20 fertilizer
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Fill the plastic storage bag with sphagnum peat moss and moisten it with the spray bottle. The peat moss should feel like a wrung-out sponge. Press the pawpaw seeds into the peat moss and seal the bag.
Place the storage bag in a safe place in your refrigerator. Store the bag at 32 to 40 degrees for three to four months without disturbing it. If you don't do this, the seed will remain dormant and will not germinate.
Fill 18-inch planting pots with potting soil and water it until the soil is moist. Remove the seeds from the sphagnum peat moss and press one into each pot of soil to a depth of about 1 inch. Cover the seeds with soil and place the pot in a warm spot away from direct sunlight. Water the seeds often to keep the soil from drying out, but don't saturate the soil.
Fertilize the pawpaw seedlings when they have two sets of leaves each, typically about four months after planting in the pots. Use a 20-20-20, water soluble fertilizer with twice as much water as directed on the packaging.
Transplant the pawpaw seedlings outdoors when they each have six pairs of leaves. Choose a spot in your garden that gets partial shade. Dig a hole as large as the planting pots, remove the plants and place them into the holes, backfilling as necessary. Leave approximately eight feet of space between each plant. Water immediately after transplanting.
Fertilize the seedlings once a month—using the same method you used before—and water the plants once a week for the first three years. After that, the trees likely will be established and you may stop watering and fertilizing them.