Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Save My Paw Paw Plants!

It's that dreaded time of year, when it is time to say goodbye to the garden.

Saturday morning, portions of Johnson City, New York (near to where I live) experienced frost.  At my house, it got down to an unexpected  35 degrees F (1.6 Celsius).  We had not expected it to get that cold, never mind cold enough to get a frost.

But my guardian angel was watching over my garden, apparently, and my plants are still alive and not frost damaged - for now.

My spouse and I have been busy doing all our fall preparations and we should be nearly set - except for one thing.
Paw Paws 9-21-14

Our paw paws.

These are two of the three surviving plants we started from seed

What are paw paws, anyway?

Paw paws are a native American fruit. They taste like a cross between bananas and mangoes.  They grew wild in Arkansas, where we lived nearly 30 years ago, and that is where I first ate them.  Last year, a Binghamton, NY resident brought some paw paws to Old Barn Hollow, a locavore store in Binghamton - I bought one, ate one for the first time in nearly 30 years, and saved the seeds. 

Of the seeds, we got almost perfect germination although it took a long time - and only three plants are left.

They don't look as good as they did on September 21 - slugs or something else are eating the leaves.  And, with the frost, these trees should go dormant.  We shouldn't be ovewintering these indoors, and we have no where to plant these.  We can't overwinter them in pots outdoors.  They are marginally hardy in this area, and really need to be in the ground.

So, a dilemma.

What should I do to save my paw paws?

Do my gardening friends have any suggestions?


  1. Until reading your post, I never knew there was a plant named Paw Paw. The only Paw Paw I have known is my children's grandfather :-)

    I can understand your concern. My wife became attached to some plants she rooted from her grandmother's farm some years ago. It really hurt her when we have to sell our home but couldn't take the plants with us.

    As for how to save your Paw Paws, I am without any recommendations. Does your area have an Extension Agent or perhaps a Dept. of Agriculture that might be of some assistance? There's also Google, if you haven't tried that.

    Best of luck to you.

    1. We have Cornell Extension in Binghamton - strangely, I never thought of contacting them because paw paws aren't your normal horticultural plant. But i am going to pursue this. Thank you for your suggestion.

  2. Why CAN'T you overwinter them inside. I know it's not ideal but it's just two little pots...

    1. I've tried overwintering them indoors a couple years now with new plants each time and each time they stunt and never resume proper development :\
      This year, they're staying outside, come what may.

  3. You don't want any suggestions from me, Alana, I kill plants without even trying ... BUT, you post brought back fond childhood memories, when in the third grade we grew pumpkins from the seeds, just about this time of year. Perhaps I will do it again! Thank you for putting a smile on my face! HUGS <3 (And BTW, in Israel weather still hot and dry ... waiting for rain.)

  4. Paw paws grow wild in northern Australia, too. We came across them on our trip around the country in the 70s. Hippies living off the fruit were covered with sores--too much sugar. The trees need heat to survive, so your climate isn't right. What about planting them in a sheltered spot amongst other bushes and covering them with straw? You have to leave gaps so they can breath, though. Good luck!

  5. Oh dear. I'm having the same problem with my crotons. Yesterday, I figured out that it might be pigeons' droppings that were causing a problem. I hope you can figure out something to save your paw-paw plants.

  6. Thanks for sharing :) As a fellow poor plant care giver I appreciate this and I'm going to be following the comments and suggestions!

  7. I can understand your feelings. I got some seeds from UK to plant them in India. ( Where i live , we do have a fertile soil and anything grows. After sprouting into small plants they wither away. I am trying ...
    Your post has made me curious. Will check out Paw -paws in India. Elese i plan to smuggle them from my next trip to the US. ( Carrying seeds is illegal .. but worth the thrill ... )


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