By: Liz Baessler
Pawpaws are a fascinating and largely unknown fruit. Native to North America and reportedly Thomas Jefferson’s favorite fruit, they taste a little bit like a sour banana full of big seeds. If you’re interested in American history or interesting plants or just good food, it’s worth it to have a pawpaw grove in your garden. But can you transplant a pawpaw? Keep reading to learn more about how to transplant a pawpaw and pawpaw transplant tips.
Can you transplant a pawpaw tree? Maybe. Pawpaws have an unusually long taproot surrounded by smaller, brittle roots covered in delicate hairs. These factors combine to make the trees very difficult to dig up without damaging the roots and killing the tree.
If you do want to try transplanting a pawpaw (say from a wild grove), take care to dig down as deeply as possible. Try to lift the entire root ball with the soil intact to avoid breaking any roots as you move it.
If you do lose some roots in the move, prune back the aboveground portion of the tree accordingly. This means that if you think you lost one quarter of the root ball, you should remove one quarter of the tree’s branches. This will give the remaining roots less tree to have to take care of and a better chance of surviving transplant shock and becoming established.
If you’re transplanting a container grown pawpaw from a nursery, none of these problems are relevant. Container grown pawpaws have their entire root system intact in a small root ball and tend to transplant easily.
An easier, though not necessarily more successful, method of transplanting is to move just a sucker, a shoot that emerges from the root ball at the base of the plant. Your sucker transplant is more likely to succeed if, a few weeks before transplant, you partially cut the sucker and its roots from the main plant, encouraging new root growth.
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It's always best to move trees and bushes as infrequently as possible, but there are several reasons you might need to transplant a fruit tree. Because most fruit trees are hard to grow from seed, every tree will need to be transplanted from its original pot to its final growing location. You may also need to move older trees if they're at risk of damage from building or landscaping activities. In every case, it's important to plan your transplant carefully, because even vigorous specimens can suffer severe damage from transplant shock.
We've fenced the goats out of the steep hillside behind the house and removed most of the bush honeysuckle growing under the trees, so it's close to ready to start planting. I've got a grove of wild pawpaws in the woods and I'd like some closer to the house where I can monitor them and hand-pollinate at the right time (last time I missed the season and got no fruit at all!).
I've read they have a deep tap root and it's hard to transplant them because they often die if you don't get enough of the root. Is it worth it to even try to move them or should I just enjoy them down in the woods where they are now? I've also read that buying suckers from nurseries almost always results in dead trees, but is that because they were shipped bare root, without the soil and its microbes, etc. included?
I was planning on only moving the smaller ones, less than 2 feet tall.
Can you collect seeds and sow directly in place? It might be a little slower but possibly less labour intensive way. I'd plant more seeds than you need and thin to the strongest specimens.
No harm in digging some small trees too, but they will probably need more intensive care for the first year or so.
ANGUS STEWART: I've sold up my bush block after 8 years. It's a real wrench to leave in many ways because you do grow attached to things. And I've got to tell you, I really can't bear to part with some of my plants, so I've done a deal that allows me to take some of the more precious ones with me.
When you're relocating plants, it's important to have the sharpest spade in the shed. It'll make the job a lot easier and you'll do less damage to the roots.
Strappy leafed plants like Kangaroo Paws and Lomandra are really simple to do. This isLomandra hystrix- one of the Mat-rushes (Green Mat-Rush). Dig around the clump and take as big a root ball as possible and shake out the dirt so you can see what you're doing.
In my experience, one of the major causes of death during transplanting is excessive moisture loss due to transpiration - that is, the leaves giving off moisture into the atmosphere. Well there's a really simple solution to that. I just reduce the foliage by at least a half which means much less demand for moisture while the roots are recovering. When you've potted up the divisions, put them in a sheltered spot to recover.
I've had good success in the past moving shrubs and trees like this flowering gum by preparing them well in advance. You need to cut around the root system with a sharp spade at least 8 weeks ahead of time because that gives the existing roots a chance to heal and grow new feeder roots around the cut surfaces. This gives your plant a much better chance of survival when you finally do the transplant.
This is a grafted form of the Red Flowering Gum from Western Australia. (Corymbia ficifoliacv.) It's a beautiful 'redish-pink' so I particularly want to take it with me. Now a couple of months ago, I did prepare by digging around the roots, but before I lift it, I need to reduce the canopy by about a half - just to reduce the moisture loss. Regardless of the type of plant you're moving, fruit and flowers are a drain, so simply remove them.
Timing is all-important. You shouldn't do this at a time of year when the plant is actively growing, otherwise pruning will simply stimulate new growth and demand for water.
Now I'm going to wrap the rootball in hessian because it will be a lot less traumatic on the roots than trying to fit it into a pot. Now the tree's not coming out easily, so I'm thinking there's probably a tap root going down underneath, so I'm mining in from the sides so I can get under and sever it so the whole rootball comes away as one piece.
Don't overdo it when you're lifting the plant out. Make sure you get a helping hand. I'm just going to do our hessian sack up with a bit if twine. I didn't get as big a rootball as I'd hoped for, but I think it'll still do the job.
I'm applying a biodegradable anti-transpirant which provides a coating on the leaf to slow moisture loss because every little thing you can do will increase your chances of success.
It's important to get your tree planted into its new home as soon as possible - especially if its had a bit of extra root disturbance like this one - and in the meantime, make sure that you don't let the rootball dry out at all.
Now people get emotionally attached to all sorts of things in life, but for me, it's my plants and also it takes a long time to get them up this big, so it's well worth taking the time and the effort to transplant them and take them with you. See you later.
COSTA GEORGIADIS: Take a look at this. It's called Sweet Leaf (Sauropus androngynus) - a tropical evergreen shrub that's essentially a vegetable tree. Tastes a bit like a sweet pea, but a bit more nutty. In fact it's one of the most nutritious and popular vegies in Asia. It'll grow to anywhere between one and two metres, but you can harvest the leaves and keep it to whatever height you like.
Well it's time to join Jane now, who's in a meadow of flowers.
QUESTION: I have a 3-foot-tall podocarpus growing in the shade, and I would like to transplant it to a sunny site. When and how do I make the move?
ANSWER: This small plant can be moved anytime of the year. But early spring is ideal because the plant is not under the added stress of hot days.
Make the move by digging around the podocarpus to shape the root ball. A ball of soil about 18 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep should be adequate to contain the roots. Do make sure the soil is moist when you dig.
Move the plant to its new home in the sun and keep the soil moist. Water every day for two months, then every other day until the summer rains begin. Give the podocarpus its first feeding four to six weeks after moving.
Q: I have two papaya trees that produce a lot of fruit, but they stay green and do not ripen. When are they ready to eat?
A: Papayas normally start to ripen about five months after the small fruits form on the trees. Cool
weather may slow their development by a few weeks. Many papayas turn yellow to orange as they ripen, but some just turn lighter green. All develop a soft texture when ripe. When you can squeeze a fruit and it gives a little, it is ready to eat.
Q: We covered the tops of our hibiscus during the February freeze with sheets, but the plants still were damaged. Why wasn't the plant protected?
A: Coverings have to drape over the plant and to the soil to give good cold protection. By using this technique you are entrapping heat from the soil that rises up around the stems and foliage. If the covering is too thin, as is plastic, the heat escapes through the barrier. Sheets, blankets and similar fibrous materials work the best at protecting plants.
When the temperature remains below freezing for several hours, even coverings may not keep plants from being damaged. Some gardeners add a light bulb or two under the covering to provide extra warmth. To be safe, use only electrical equipment approved for use outdoors.
Q: My builder has given me the choice between a queen palm and sabal palm for the landscape. Which should I choose?
A: Your two choices are quite different in appearance, and each may give a different look to the landscape. Queen palms have fernlike leaves that create a light willowy look. The sabal palm, also known as the cabbage palm, has fan-shaped leaves and gives a formal appearance. Both grow to 40 feet tall.
When it comes to hardiness, the sabal palm is the winner. It survives Florida's coldest winters. The queen palm is injured by temperatures in the mid- to upper 20s. Both are easy to grow, but the sabal palm is the more reliable.
Q: Our navel orange tree was planted about six years ago. It bears many large fruits. This year they were dry at the top. Why?
A: Many gardeners have written about their dry fruits from several varieties of citrus. The lack of juice and woody texture can be blamed mainly on the weather. The long rainy season and hot fall were probably at fault. Also young trees are more likely to have the dry fruit problem. A little maturity and another year probably will produce plump, juicy navels.
Q: I have a sago that gets plenty of sun, water and fertilizer, but the new leaves turn brown shortly after they develop. What can I do to keep them green?
A: Brown and often twisted new growths are a common complaint about sagos. The discoloration appears to be caused by a manganese deficiency. Correct the short supply with an application of manganese sulfate available from garden centers. One treatment should be adequate follow label instructions.