How To Grow & Care For the Pawpaw

pawpaw plant

The Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a deciduous tree native to the Eastern United States. Its unique tropical appearance and delicious, custard-like fruit make it an attractive addition to gardens and landscapes. The fruit is known for its sweet flavor and is often referred to as the “poor man’s banana.”

The Pawpaw tree has an interesting cultural history and has been utilized by indigenous peoples and early settlers for both its fruit and its medicinal properties. Its large, glossy leaves and dark brown bark add to its visual appeal, while the fruit provides nourishment for various wildlife.

Growing Pawpaw from seeds is a rewarding yet challenging endeavor. The seeds are known for their particular care requirements and can be successfully cultivated with proper attention to detail. This guide provides comprehensive information on growing and caring for Pawpaw trees, focusing on the unique aspects of the seeds.

Common NamesPawpaw, Custard Apple, Poor Man’s Banana
Botanical NameAsimina triloba
Plant TypeDeciduous tree
Mature Size15-30 feet tall
Sun ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Soil TypeRich, well-draining soil
Hardiness Zones5-9
Native AreaEastern United States

Pawpaw Care

Growing Pawpaw requires specific attention to factors such as light, soil, water, and temperature. These plants thrive best in well-draining, slightly acidic soil, rich in organic matter. Though they can tolerate some shade, Pawpaw trees flourish in full sun to partial shade.

Care should be taken during the early stages of growth, as young Pawpaw trees are particularly sensitive to environmental conditions. Providing adequate care during this period will ensure a strong, healthy tree that produces abundant fruit.

Light Requirement for Pawpaw

Pawpaw trees thrive in full sun to partial shade. While they can tolerate some shade, especially when young, providing ample sunlight will promote healthy growth and fruit production.

Soil Requirements for Pawpaw

Well-draining, slightly acidic soil rich in organic matter is ideal for Pawpaw trees. A soil pH of 5.5 to 7.0 is preferable. Sandy loam with good moisture retention supports optimal growth.

Water Requirements for Pawpaw

Regular, deep watering is crucial for the Pawpaw tree, especially during the growing season. However, overwatering or poor drainage can lead to root rot.

Temperature and Humidity

Pawpaw trees are hardy in USDA zones 5-9 and prefer temperatures between 55-85°F (13-29°C). While they can tolerate some cold, protection from harsh winter winds is beneficial.


A balanced slow-release fertilizer can be applied in early spring to support growth. Avoid excessive nitrogen, as it may hinder fruit development.

Pruning Pawpaw

Pruning is not typically necessary for Pawpaw trees, except for removing dead or diseased branches. Minimal pruning encourages a bushier growth habit.

Propagating Pawpaw

Pawpaw can be propagated from seed or by grafting. Seeds must be fresh and kept moist until planting. Grafting is a more reliable method for ensuring fruit quality.

How To Grow Pawpaw From Seed

Growing Pawpaw from seed requires fresh seeds that have not been allowed to dry out. Stratification is needed before planting. Plant seeds in well-prepared soil, 1 inch deep, and provide consistent care.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases


Monitor for aphids and treat with insecticidal soap if necessary.

Fungal Diseases

Avoid overhead watering to prevent fungal diseases.

Common Problems With Pawpaw

Poor Fruit Set

This may be due to inadequate pollination. Hand-pollination can improve fruit set.

Seed Germination Issues

Fresh seeds with proper stratification are key to successful germination.

Pro Tips

  1. Plant two or more trees for cross-pollination to ensure fruit production.
  2. Protect young trees from harsh winds and cold snaps.
  3. Provide a mulch layer to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
  4. Monitor for signs of pests and diseases, addressing promptly.
  5. Consider grafting for more predictable fruit characteristics.