How To Plant Paw Paw Seeds [ Full Guide ]

Paw paw, also known as Asimina triloba, is a unique, tropical-like fruit native to North America. The paw paw tree is a small, deciduous tree that produces large, delicious fruits with a custard-like texture. If you’re a fan of the paw paw fruit and want to grow your own tree, planting paw paw seeds is an economical and rewarding way to cultivate this delectable fruit. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of choosing the right paw paw seeds, preparing the soil, and the steps involved in planting and caring for paw paw seeds.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Paw Paw Seeds

To plant paw paw seeds, choose the right seeds from a reliable source, prepare rich, well-draining soil, soak the seeds in water for 3-4 days, and then scarify the seeds before planting them in the soil. Keep the soil consistently moist and maintain a warm temperature until the seeds germinate. Once the seedlings grow, provide them with adequate sunlight and regular watering.

Choosing The Right Paw Paw Seeds

When it comes to planting paw paw seeds, it is crucial to select high-quality seeds to ensure successful germination and healthy tree growth. Opt for fresh paw paw seeds as they have a higher chance of germination. You can collect seeds from ripe paw paw fruits or purchase them from reputable nurseries or seed suppliers.

Fresh seeds are encased in a gelatinous pulp, which should be removed before planting. Choose seeds that are plump, without any signs of damage or mold. Additionally, it’s essential to select seeds from a reliable cultivar or variety that suits your climate and growing conditions. Some popular paw paw cultivars include “Sunflower”, “Mango”, and “Pennsylvania Golden”.

Before purchasing or collecting seeds, research the best paw paw varieties for your specific region. Consider factors such as chill hours, heat tolerance, disease resistance, and fruit flavor to find the most suitable seeds for your location.

Preparing The Soil For Planting Paw Paw Seeds

Paw paw trees thrive in well-draining, fertile soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Before planting paw paw seeds, you need to prepare the soil to provide an optimal growing environment for the seeds and the future trees. Here’s a step-by-step guide to preparing the soil for planting paw paw seeds:

Step 1: Selecting The Planting Site

Choose a planting site that receives partial shade, especially during the afternoon, as paw paw trees prefer dappled sunlight or partial shade. The soil should be rich in organic matter and capable of retaining moisture without becoming waterlogged. Additionally, ensure that the site has good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases.

Step 2: Testing The Soil

Conduct a soil test in the selected area to determine the pH level and nutrient content of the soil. Most paw paw trees prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH ranging from 5.5 to 7.0. Based on the soil test results, you may need to amend the soil with organic matter or sulfur to adjust the pH as per the tree’s requirements.

Step 3: Amending The Soil

Incorporate organic matter such as well-rotted compost, leaf mold, or aged manure into the soil to improve its texture and fertility. Organic matter enhances the soil’s ability to retain moisture and nutrients, which is beneficial for the establishment and growth of paw paw seedlings.

Step 4: Improving Drainage

Ensure that the planting site has proper drainage to prevent waterlogging. If the soil tends to retain water, consider adding sand or organic materials to improve drainage.

Step 5: Clearing The Area

Clear the planting area of any debris, weeds, or competing vegetation that could hinder the growth of paw paw seedlings. Create a clean and spacious planting bed to provide ample room for the seeds to germinate and the young trees to grow.

By following these steps, you can create an ideal growing environment for planting paw paw seeds and nurturing healthy paw paw trees.

Soaking And Scarifying Paw Paw Seeds

Before planting, paw paw seeds need to undergo a process of soaking and scarifying to enhance their germination rate and speed up the emergence of seedlings. Here’s a detailed overview of soaking and scarifying paw paw seeds:

Step 1: Soaking Paw Paw Seeds

  • Place the fresh paw paw seeds in a container filled with water, ensuring that the seeds are fully submerged.
  • Allow the seeds to soak in the water for 3-4 days, changing the water daily to prevent mold and bacterial growth.
  • Soaking helps soften the seed coat and triggers the germination process, increasing the likelihood of successful seedling emergence.

Step 2: Scarifying Paw Paw Seeds

  • After soaking, paw paw seeds need to be scarified to break through the tough outer seed coat and promote germination.
  • Using sandpaper or a file, gently rub the outer seed coat to create small scratches or abrasions on the surface of the seed.
  • Alternatively, you can carefully nick the seed coat with a sharp knife, taking caution not to damage the seed inside.
  • Scarification allows moisture to penetrate the seed coat, stimulating the embryo’s growth and increasing the speed of germination.

By soaking and scarifying paw paw seeds, you can improve their germination rate and facilitate the emergence of healthy paw paw seedlings.

Planting paw paw seeds is a fulfilling endeavor that allows you to grow your own paw paw trees and enjoy the delectable fruits they produce. By carefully selecting high-quality seeds, preparing nutrient-rich soil, and following the soaking and scarifying process, you can increase the chances of successful germination and robust tree growth.

The journey from planting paw paw seeds to harvesting ripe fruits may take several years, but with patience and proper care, you can experience the joy of nurturing these unique and flavorful fruits in your own backyard. From selecting the right seeds to providing optimal growing conditions, each step plays a crucial role in the successful cultivation of paw paw trees. Embrace the process, and soon you may be savoring the sweet, tropical taste of homegrown paw paw fruits.

Planting Paw Paw Seeds In Pots Or Containers

Paw Paw trees (Asimina triloba) are native to the eastern United States and are known for their delicious tropical-like fruits. While it is possible to purchase paw paw saplings from nurseries, growing them from seeds can be a rewarding experience.

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Before you start planting paw paw seeds, it’s important to note that they have a significantly low germination rate and may take several weeks or even months to sprout. Here’s how you can get started with planting paw paw seeds in pots or containers:

  1. Prepare the seeds: Paw paw seeds are enclosed in a thick, gelatinous pulp. Start by collecting ripe paw paw fruit and placing them in a bowl. Mash the fruits gently with your hands, making sure to extract the seeds along with the pulp. Once you have collected the seeds, rinse them well under running water to remove any remaining pulp.

  2. Soak the seeds: Paw paw seeds benefit from stratification, which is the process of exposing them to cold temperatures and moisture to simulate natural conditions and promote germination. Fill a bowl with water and place the seeds in it. Let them soak for 24 hours prior to planting.

  3. Choose the right pot: Select a pot or container that is at least 12 inches deep and has drainage holes at the bottom. The volume of the pot will depend on how many seeds you plan to plant. It’s advisable to plant a couple of extra seeds to compensate for the low germination rate.

  4. Prepare the potting mix: Use a well-draining potting mix that is rich in organic matter. A suitable mix can include equal parts of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. This type of mix ensures good drainage and provides the necessary nutrients for the seedlings.

  5. Plant the seeds: Fill the pot or container with the prepared potting mix, leaving about an inch of space from the top. Make small depressions in the soil, approximately one inch deep. Place one seed in each depression and cover them with a thin layer of the potting mix. Water the pot thoroughly until you see water draining out from the bottom.

  6. Provide consistent moisture and temperature: Place the pot in a warm and well-lit area, preferably with a temperature between 70-80°F (21-27°C). Cover the pot with a plastic wrap or a clear plastic dome to create a greenhouse-like environment that retains moisture. Check the moisture levels regularly and mist the soil if it starts to dry out. Remember to keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged.

  7. Be patient: Paw paw seeds have a slow germination process that can take anywhere from one to three months. It’s crucial not to give up during this time, as the seeds may still sprout even if it takes longer than expected. Multiple seeds may germinate at different times, so it’s important to be patient and wait for them to grow.

Transplanting Paw Paw Seedlings

Once the paw paw seedlings have sprouted and grown to a height of about 6-8 inches, it’s time to transplant them into larger containers or into the ground. Follow these steps to successfully transplant the seedlings:

  1. Choose a larger container or a suitable planting site: Paw paw trees have a taproot system, so it’s essential to select a container or planting site that allows for deep root growth. If transplanting into a container, choose one that is at least 18 inches deep and wide. If transplanting into the ground, select a location with well-drained soil, plenty of sunlight, and enough space for the mature tree, as paw paw trees can reach heights of 15-30 feet.

  2. Prepare the transplanting hole: Dig a hole in the new container or in the planting site that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the seedling’s root system. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole to encourage the roots to grow.

  3. Remove the seedling and place it in the hole: Gently tap the sides of the current container to loosen the soil and ease the seedling’s removal. Once the seedling is out, place it in the prepared hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.

  4. Fill the hole with soil: Backfill the hole with the surrounding soil, ensuring that there are no air pockets around the roots. Gently press the soil down to secure the seedling in place.

  5. Water the transplanted seedling: After transplanting, water the seedling thoroughly to settle the soil and provide ample moisture for the roots. Maintain consistent watering until the seedling establishes itself.

Providing The Optimal Growing Conditions For Paw Paw Seeds

To ensure healthy growth and successful fruiting, paw paw trees require specific growing conditions. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Sunlight: Paw paw trees thrive in full sun to partial shade. They require at least six hours of direct sunlight per day for optimal growth and fruit production. If planting in a hotter climate, providing some afternoon shade can be beneficial.

  2. Soil: Paw paw trees prefer well-drained, loamy soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5.5 and 7.0. The soil should be rich in organic matter and have good moisture retention capabilities. If your soil is heavy or compacted, consider amending it with additional organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure.

  3. Temperature: Paw paw trees are adapted to temperate climates and are hardy in USDA zones 5-9. They require a minimum winter chill period of 400-600 hours below 45°F (7°C) for optimal fruit production. However, they can also tolerate high temperatures during the summer months.

  4. Pollination: Paw paw trees are not self-pollinating and require cross-pollination between different cultivars for successful fruiting. It’s advisable to plant at least two different cultivars near each other to ensure proper pollination. In the absence of natural pollinators, hand pollination can be done by transferring pollen from male flowers to female flowers using a small brush.

  5. Pruning: Pruning is essential to maintain the shape and health of the paw paw tree. Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Remove any dead or damaged branches and thin out overcrowded areas to promote adequate airflow. Avoid heavy pruning, as paw paw trees have a natural branching habit.

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Watering And Fertilizing Paw Paw Seedlings

Proper watering and fertilization are crucial for the healthy growth and establishment of paw paw seedlings. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Watering: Paw paw trees have moderate water requirements. Adequate watering is essential during the first few years to ensure proper root development. Water the seedlings deeply, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Avoid overwatering, as paw paw trees are susceptible to root rot. Mulching around the base of the tree can help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

  2. Fertilizing: Paw paw trees are heavy feeders and benefit from regular fertilization. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth begins. Use a fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of around 10-10-10 or a similar ratio, following the package instructions for application rates. Avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers, as they can promote excessive leaf growth at the expense of fruiting.

  3. Micronutrient deficiencies: Paw paw trees may develop micronutrient deficiencies, especially zinc. This can cause yellowing of the leaves and poor growth. If you notice these symptoms, apply a chelated zinc fertilizer according to the package instructions.

  4. Mulching: Mulching around the base of the paw paw tree helps conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and improve soil fertility. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded leaves, around the root zone, taking care to leave a small gap around the trunk to prevent rot.

Growing paw paw trees from seeds can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully plant and grow paw paw seeds in pots or containers, transplant the seedlings into larger containers or the ground, provide optimal growing conditions, and ensure proper watering and fertilization. With patience and care, you’ll soon enjoy the delightful tropical-like fruits of your own paw paw tree.

Pruning And Training Paw Paw Seedlings

Paw paw (Asimina triloba) is a tropical fruit native to North America. It is also known as Indiana banana, poor man’s banana, or custard apple. Paw paw trees are a great addition to any garden, as they not only produce delicious fruits but also have beautiful foliage and flowers. While you can purchase young paw paw trees from nurseries, growing them from seeds is another viable option.

Once germination occurs, it is important to prune and train the paw paw seedlings to promote healthy growth and shape the tree. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Choose the strongest seedling: Paw paw seeds can produce multiple seedlings, so select the healthiest and most vigorous one to continue growing.

  2. Prune to a single stem: When the seedling reaches about 24 inches in height, prune away any side shoots or branches to promote a central leader. This will give the tree a strong, upright structure.

  3. Stake the seedling: Gently insert a stake into the ground near the seedling and tie it loosely with a soft material to provide support. This will prevent the tree from bending or breaking during strong winds.

  4. Prune damaged or weak branches: As the seedling grows, inspect it regularly for any damaged, weak, or crossing branches. Prune these branches off to maintain a strong framework.

  5. Train the central leader: As the tree grows taller, continue tying it to the stake to encourage upright growth. This will help create a well-structured tree and facilitate future harvesting.

  6. Remove suckers: Paw paw trees can produce suckers, which are shoots that sprout from the base of the tree. These suckers will compete for nutrients and water with the main tree, so remove them as soon as they appear.

Protecting Paw Paw Seedlings From Pests And Diseases

Like any other fruit tree, paw paw seedlings are susceptible to certain pests and diseases. To ensure their health and productivity, it is important to take preventive measures and promptly address any issues that may arise. Here are some tips for protecting paw paw seedlings:

  1. Prevent fungal diseases: Paw paws are prone to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and black spot. To prevent these, make sure the seedlings are exposed to good air circulation and avoid overhead watering. Apply organic fungicides if necessary.

  2. Manage pest infestations: Paw paw trees can be affected by various pests like spider mites, aphids, or scale insects. Regularly inspect the seedlings for signs of infestation such as distorted leaves or sticky residue. Use organic insecticides or insecticidal soap to control the pests.

  3. Protect from wildlife: Paw paw fruits are often enjoyed by squirrels, raccoons, and birds. To protect the seedlings and fruit, you can use physical barriers such as netting or install scare devices like reflective tape or noise-making devices.

  4. Monitor soil moisture: Paw paw trees prefer moist soil, but excessive moisture can lead to root rot. Monitor the soil moisture regularly and ensure it is well-drained. Avoid overwatering and make sure the seedlings are not in standing water.

  5. Maintain proper nutrition: Paw paw trees require balanced nutrition to thrive. Test the soil to determine any deficiencies and adjust the fertilizer accordingly. Apply organic fertilizers rich in potassium and phosphorus in early spring and mid-summer.

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Harvesting Paw Paw Fruits From Seed-Grown Trees

Growing paw paw trees from seeds requires patience, as it typically takes four to five years for the seedlings to reach maturity and start bearing fruits. Here’s what you need to know about harvesting paw paw fruits from seed-grown trees:

  1. Determining fruit ripeness: Paw paw fruits are ready to harvest when they turn yellow-green and yield to gentle pressure. They should feel slightly soft but not mushy. If the fruit is hard, leave it on the tree for a few days until it softens.

  2. Harvesting the fruits: Gently twist or cut the stem of the fruit to detach it from the tree. Be careful not to damage the fruit or the surrounding branches. Use a pair of pruning shears or a sharp knife for a clean cut.

  3. Post-harvest storage: Paw paw fruits have a short shelf life and should be consumed or processed within a few days of harvesting. If you need to store the fruits, refrigerate them at a temperature of around 45°F (7°C). They can last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

  4. Processing the fruits: Paw paw fruits can be enjoyed fresh, but they can also be used in various recipes like pies, smoothies, or ice cream. To process the fruits, scoop out the soft flesh and remove the large seeds. The flesh can then be blended or mashed depending on the intended use.

Troubleshooting Common Issues In Paw Paw Seed Germination

While growing paw paw trees from seeds can be rewarding, it may also present some challenges in the germination process. Here are some common issues and their solutions:

  1. Low seed germination rate: Paw paw seeds have a relatively low germination rate, averaging around 25-30%. To improve the chances of success, soak the seeds in warm water for 48 hours before planting. This will help soften the seed coat and increase moisture absorption.

  2. Slow or uneven germination: Paw paw seeds may take several months to germinate, sometimes even up to six months. Maintain consistent moisture levels and warmth during this period. Germination can be encouraged by providing bottom heat with a heating mat or by using a germination chamber.

  3. Damping off: Damping off is a fungal disease that causes seedlings to rot at the soil line. To prevent this, use sterilized soil or seed starting mix. Avoid overwatering and ensure good air circulation. If damping off occurs, remove the affected seedlings and adjust the watering routine.

  4. Seedling transplant shock: Transplanting young paw paw seedlings can potentially cause shock due to root disturbance. To minimize this, transplant the seedlings when they are small and handle the roots with care. Water the seedlings after transplanting and provide shade for a few days to reduce stress.

  5. Cold stratification failure: Paw paw seeds require a period of cold stratification to break dormancy and promote germination. If seeds fail to germinate after stratification, it might be due to inadequate chilling. Ensure that the seeds receive at least two to three months of cold stratification before planting.


Planting and growing paw paw trees from seeds can be a rewarding process that allows you to enjoy the unique tropical flavors of this fruit. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully plant paw paw seeds, train the seedlings, protect them from pests and diseases, harvest the fruits, and troubleshoot any issues that may arise. With time and care, your paw paw seedlings will grow into mature trees that produce delicious and nutritious fruits for years to come. Happy gardening!


What Kind Of Soil Is Best For Planting Paw Paw Seeds?

Paw paw seeds prefer well-drained, loamy soil that is slightly acidic with a pH between 5.5 and 7. They do not do well in heavy clay soil or soil that is constantly wet.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Paw Paw Seeds?

The best time to plant paw paw seeds is in the fall. This allows the seeds to naturally stratify (a process of cold treatment) during the winter months, which can help improve germination rates.

How Should I Prepare The Planting Site For Paw Paw Seeds?

The planting site should be well-drained, cleared of any weeds or debris, and have an area of at least 3 feet in diameter for each seed. If needed, add some organic matter or compost to the soil to improve its quality.

How Deep Should I Plant The Paw Paw Seeds?

Paw paw seeds should be planted about 1 inch deep in the soil. Make sure to water the soil after planting to ensure the seeds are well-settled.

How Often Do Paw Paw Seeds Need To Be Watered?

After planting, paw paw seeds should be watered lightly but consistently until they germinate. Once the seedlings emerge, they should be watered deeply once a week, making sure the soil stays evenly moist but not waterlogged. As the tree grows, it will require less frequent watering.