[NAFEX] transplanting paw paws

Alan Haigh alandhaigh at gmail.com
Fri Dec 19 10:38:03 EST 2008

In spite of my original skepticism, I am very impressed with the amount and
quality of the evidence supplied here about the efficacy of stripped leaf,
summer transplanting of paw paws.  So far no one has offered a theory of why
it works so well and it interests me enough to submit my own.  I can only
hope my theory interests you.

Various species have different seasons of root growth- something that is
rather understudied, I think.  Species also vary in the general vigor of
their root growth.  Paw paws have large fleshy leaves that may transpire
more water then most species and judging from the sluggish establishment
they are famous for, root growth seems to be less than vigorous.  This would
include the crucial regenerative root growth following transplanting.  Even
potted paw paws are often said to establish more easily if partial shade is
provided the first year or 2 but perform well in full sun once established.

My theory is that transplanted paw paws may have very vigorous root growth
in mid-summer but are nevertheless unable to provide enough water if the
leaves are left on the tree.  They have fleshy roots that presumably are a
good reservoir of stored energy and this energy is directed to "emergency"
root growth when planted after the remaining buds on the tree have gone into
dormancy by mid-summer.  When these buds finally spring to life the
following season an adequate fibrous root-system has already been
established to provide adequate moisture for these emerging buds.

On other species of fruit I have observed tremendous root growth during bud
break in Spring.  I've also observed significant but less vigorous root
growth as late as December from leafless trees.   Perhaps paw paws put out
similar root growth, but not sufficient to support the rapidly emerging

I still wonder if those of you who had trouble establishing paw paws with
spring planting couldn't achieve better results if you kept your transplants
in heavy shade for the first month or so of the growing season and then
gradually reduced that shade to approximately 50%.

It wouldn't surprise if this method worked better than strip-leaf mid-summer
transplanting because I get good results just by transplanting dormant
plants to a shady spot in the fall without wasting the plant energy lost
when stripping leaves.
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