Darling Diva Dahlias

Like chrysanthemums, many people associate dahlias with the fall but dahlias can bloom from the beginning of summer to frost. Dahlia flowers are available in a wide range of sizes, colors, and shapes. Each bloom can be 2 inches across to more than 10 inches, in all colors except blue. Plants can reach one to 6 feet tall. Some plants have beautiful dark foliage instead of green leaves. Although there are 40 plus species there are thousands of cultivars. In addition, there are numerous forms such as the single, peony, anemone, collerette, star or single orchid, double orchid, cactus, waterlily, ball, and pompom.

Planting Tubers or Seed

To grow dahlias, you can either purchase tubers or start them from seed. If you purchase a tuber that is a named variety you will know exactly what the plant will look like. Plus, if you purchase cultivars that have been trialed and proven to do well in this area, you will have a good chance of success.  Seed is cheaper than tubers but there is a lot of variability with plant vigor and flower color. Although the seed will grow and produce a plant with pretty flowers for the garden, the flowers may not be exhibition quality.

Tubers can be planted outside in the ground after the average last frost date (Mother’s Day in the Washington DC metro area). Tubers also can be started indoors in April in containers under fluorescent lights or by the window to initiate growth. Seed should be started indoors under lights because planting seed in cold soil may retard the germination rate. Starting seed outdoors in May will only delay the time to reach blooming stage.

Caring for Dahlias

“Put the tuber in a four-inch hole and cover so that it is just peeking through. This way you can see the growth. When it grows, add more soil,” advises John Spangenberg, member of the National Capital Dahlia Society and owner of Crazy 4 Dahlias. John is a long time dahlia enthusiast who also sells tubers from his website.

Growing a dahlia plant is similar to growing a tomato plant: full sun and plenty of water and food. A dahlia can grow in less than 6 hours of sun but would not produce as many flowers. After planting the tubers, insert stakes such as tomato cages or posts. In the beginning, dahlias will require plenty of water, generally one inch of water per week. Dahlias are heavy feeders and will need fertilizer throughout the summer. Slow release fertilizers also work well. Dahlias appreciate a leaf or straw mulch to keep the tubers cool and to prevent weeds.

Encouraging More Flowers

In the beginning of the growing season, John recommends topping the plants to encourage bushier, sturdier plants with more flowers. The center bud (not flower bud but central growth) should be pinched back. “When you see three to four sets (or pairs) of leaves, break the center top off,” explained John.

Later in the season when flower buds appear, disbud or cut off smaller, lateral flower buds to encourage the top bud to form a single, larger flower. When a dahlia flowers, there are three stems with three buds in a v-shape. When the outer two smaller buds are the size of peas they should be cut leaving the center flower bud.

“The more you cut your flowers, the more flowers you get,” said John. If you don’t cut a flower for a vase, make sure you at least deadhead them. Deadheading is cutting off and disposing flowers that are past their prime to encourage the plant to produce more flowers.

Throughout the season, make sure the plant is well staked as it grows, feed it, and make sure it gets enough water.

Saving Tubers in the Fall

Dahlias are native to Mexico. Here in Washington DC they are treated as tender perennials and may or may not come back the following year. In order to ensure that the plants can be grown again next year, most gardeners lift and store the tubers in October.

“In the fall when get the first frost, cut the plant a couple of inches above the ground and let sit for a week or dig them up,” explained John. “You want to have the eyes develop and swell to be able to see them well. It helps to see the eyes when dividing the tubers. You can divide in the spring or fall but it is easier to divide in the fall.”

Dahlia tubers are swollen roots. Each tuber has to have an “eye,” which is a growing point in order to grow. From that eye the stem will emerge. In May, a single tuber with an eye is planted for a single plant. In the fall, when the plant is lifted out of the ground, there will be more new tubers joined together in an area called the crown. The “eyes,” or viable growing points, are in the crown. This can be stored as is or divided to create more plants.

John uses vermiculite in a box to store his tubers but there are many methods to store tubers. He finds vermiculite works best because it absorbs and releases moisture. Tubers should be in the coolest place in the house where there is constant temperature such as a crawl space or basement or a closet next to the outer wall of the house.

Because they are native to Mexico, one would think that dahlias would be easy to grow here with our sunny, warm summers. In fact, dahlias are native to a mountainous region in Mexico with more wind, less humidity, and cooler temperatures. Thus dahlias grow very well in the Pacific Northwest but have some difficulty in the mid-Atlantic. They need quite a bit of water, yet as heavy feeders, the rain can leach the nutrients. Plus the humidity can encourage disease. “In this area, we have issues with slugs, earwigs, rabbits, groundhogs, and deer,” said John. “Plus we have noticed that Japanese beetles prefer white and yellow flowered dahlias.”

Selecting Dahlias for Washington DC Metro Area

To choose a dahlia that performs well here, look to the National Capital Dahlia Society for recommendations. A branch of the American Dahlia Society (ADS), the National Capital Dahlia Society is comprised of dahlia enthusiasts and breeders who meet on a regular basis. Every year they manage a trial garden at the Agricultural History Park in Derwood, MD. “The display garden is a trial garden to test new introduction from across the country to see how they do here. We look at bloom quality and plant vigor and report this to the American Dahlia Society,” said John. Later in October, the Society members will dig up the dahlias at the trial garden and demonstrate how to save the tubers (open to the public). They also sell tubers next year so if you are interested in growing dahlias that do well in the Washington DC metro area, contact them via their website: http://www.nationalcapitaldahlia.org.

This past weekend, the National Capital Dahlia Society held their annual dahlia show at Brookside Gardens where flowers were judged using the ADS criteria. The photos in this article are dahlias from the Court of Honor, those dahlias that have been selected from all entries for final judging. The video is a scan of the Court of Honor.

Pretty Poisonous Pokeweed

mature pokeweed berries

A common sight in Virginia now are the purple berries hanging from green shrubs along the roadside. Pokeweed (Phytolacca decandra) is an herbaceous perennial, considered a weed by most gardeners. Pokeweed is easy to find on roadsides, fields, and ditches as birds eat the berries and drop the seeds. From summer to fall, pokeweed blooms small white flowers on peduncles (stems) making them stick out. In the fall, the berries appear first as flatten green balls with a dimple in the center on hot pink racemes and later, as if they had been inflated, as deep purple, ¼ -inch balls on red racemes. The contrast of purple and red or green and pink is so pretty that pokeweed is often used for fall floral arrangements.

immature pokeweed berries

Pokeweed berries are attractive but it is important to know that all parts of the plant are poisonous. Some people even get rashes from touching the plant. If you have children or see pokeweed in areas where children frequent such as school playgrounds, you should remove the plants. Pull the thick stems after a rain when the soil is loose and when the plants are young. If they mature, they develop taproots, making them difficult to remove completely. If you are not worried about children, consider growing them as a native food source for birds in your garden.

white pokeweed flowers with both green immature and purple mature berries in background

Abelia: A Modern Look to an Old-Fashioned Shrub

Abelia is an old-fashioned shrub. Chances are your grandparents knew them as 6-foot plants with green leaves and small flowers. Now however there are so many varieties they may not even recognize the new cultivars. Abelia is available in compact sizes and in a wide spectrum of foliage color. Depending on the cultivar, foliage can be variegated green and cream or green and yellow or even red, bronze, and orange. Sometimes the new growth is a different color than the old growth.

A member of the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, abelia has sweetly scented, funnel-shaped flowers that attract pollinators. They bloom from spring to fall. Right now in the Washington DC metro area the bushes are covered in flowers.

Abelia plants are deer resistant with minimal pest and disease issues. They are called “semi evergreen,” which means they will drop leaves in areas such as ours with cold winters but will retain leaves in the south. The shrubs are ideal for borders, foundations, screens, and hedges, and for erosion control on banks and slopes. Now is a great time to purchase them while you can see how they bloom and look. Select the variety you like best at your local independent garden center.

 

 

 

Giveaway for October Pegplant’s Post: CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator

Here is a great giveaway for the October issue of Pegplant’s Post: the CobraHead Original Weeder and Cultivator. The CobraHead has a very sharp blade that cuts through our clay soil, creates furrows for planting seeds and transplants, slices out weeds, and rakes up debris. The narrow blade, made from forged temperate steel, is able to get in between and under your flowers and veggies. The ergonomically designed curve shaped handle is made of recycled plastic composite and is comfortable for either right or left handed gardeners. Made in Wisconsin, the CobraHead is a multi-functional, lightweight tool built to last a lifetime. The CobraHead company also sells a mini version of this tool and other useful gardening products.

This giveaway opportunity is for subscribers of Pegplant’s Post, a free, online newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC metro area. Each issue provides:

  • Monthly events. Plan your social life with local gardening events. Each issue will have at least 50 events. Depending on the season, there can be more than 100 events, many of which are free.
  • New books. Stay abreast of gardening trends and practices with recently published books. Use this list for birthday and holiday gift ideas.
  • Tips and advice. Learn timely tips and advice relevant to our area and the current gardening season.
  • Giveaways. Enter the monthly giveaway contest to win items such as seed packets, books, tools, and plants.
  • Articles from pegplant.com. Catch up with articles from my website, pegplant.com, about plants, gardens, and resources.

To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter your e-mail address in the box above “subscribe!” on the right column. Pegplant’s Post will be issued on the last weekend of the month.

National Indoor Plant Week: Snake Plant

Snake plants vary in stripes, color and leaf shape.

This is the last day of National Indoor Plant Week. To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, I published an article each day on low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. I also collaborated with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Snake plants provide a strong vertical accent.

Today, Day 5, is about the snake plant, Sansevieria. The snake plant has one to 1 1/2 feet long, sword-shaped leaves, which usually are a mottled green, with yellow, gray or silver margins. There are varieties with more yellow or silver coloring in the leaves. For a new take on snake plant, look for Bantel’s Sensation, which has narrower leaves with white vertical strips or the cylinder snake plant with very narrow, cylindrical leaves. All are low light level, low humidity plants where the soil is kept barely most. Fertilize once a year.

To learn more low light, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home, see Day 4, pothos; Day 3, Chinese evergreen; Day 2, Arrowhead, and Day 1, the ZZ plant.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Pothos

This particular variety of pothos is called Marble Queen.

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Neon pothos has yellow leaves.

Today, Day 4, is about the devil’s ivy or golden pothos, Scindapsus. The heart-shaped leaves are variegated green and yellow or green and white with a waxy sheen. In the tropics, this is a vine so indoors it has a trailing or cascading effect. Take advantage of the roaming nature by putting on top of office credenzas or kitchen cabinets. Or cut the stems back to keep a round shape in a planter. This is a low light level, low humidity plant where the soil is kept barely moist. However, this plant roots very easily in water and can be grown in a vase of water for a period of time. Fertilize once a year.

To learn about previous plants, click on Day 3, Chinese evergreen; Day 2, arrowhead, and Day 1, the ZZ plant.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen plant with white and green stripes

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Chinese evergreen plant with more pronounced silver bands

Today, Day 3, is about the Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema. Plants have large, wide leaves with variegated green and cream or green and silver coloring. There is a new variety called red aglaonema with red, pink, and green leaves. The plant has an upright appearance and grows from a foot to two feet. This is a low light level, low humidity plant where the soil is kept barely moist. Fertilize once a year.

Click here for Day 2, the arrowhead, and for Day 1, the ZZ plant.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Arrowhead Plant

Arrowhead plant with a blush of pink in the center of the leaf

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Today, Day 2, is about the arrowhead plant. Like the name suggests, arrowhead plant, Syngonium, has arrow-shaped leaves. The leaves usually are white and green but there are gold and green varieties and varieties with a blush of pink.  As the plant matures the leaf shape and color changes so that mature leaves can be all green. To keep the variegation, just cut off older leaves. The plant grows to about one foot tall. This is a low light level, low humidity plant where the soil is kept barely moist. Fertilize once a year.

Baby arrowheads are often available for small containers or terrariums

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant (see Day 1 for a description), subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Low Light, Low Maintenance Plants

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Today, Day 1, is about the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), which has distinctive foliage. The pinnate leaves are about a foot long with 6-8 pairs of leaflets, about 3 to 6 inches long. They are spaced in such a manner they look like a ladder. The dark green leaves are so glossy they look like they have been polished. Although ZZ plants are not grown for flowers, they do bloom at the base of the plant with peace lily type flowers. The plant can grow to a few feet tall, does well in low humidity, low light, and low soil moisture, and is pest resistant. The roots are actually swollen rhizomes, which means the plant can tolerate very dry conditions. Water when the soil dries out and use a general purpose houseplant fertilizer once a year.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

American Heritage: Native Paw Paw Trees

Paw paw flowers in the spring

It’s paw paw season! Paw paws (Asimina triloba) are native trees that bear fruit in August, September, and October. Fruit of cultivated trees look very similar to mangos—green, kidney-shaped, and about 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. They have a variety of common names such as Indiana banana, poor man’s banana, and bandango. When cut in half, the interior reveals a yellow, custard-like pulp with two rows of large seeds. Paw paws can weigh from ½ to 1 pound. Technically a berry, they are the largest North American edible fruit. Paw paws taste like a cross between a banana and a mango with a splash of pineapple. They can be eaten raw or used in ice cream, pudding, smoothies, butter (such as apple butter), baked goods like cookies and pies, and even beer, brandy, and wine!

From Florida to Texas, north to New York, and west to Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, paw paws are native to 26 states and grow as understory trees in hardwood forests near streams and rivers. In the wild, the trees grow to 15 to 30 feet and sucker, creating colonies. Reminiscent of cucumber magnolias, they have foot-long, dark green leaves. Unlike other fruit trees, paw paw trees are not subject to a high level of pests and diseases.

Paw Paws in American History and Folklore

Paw paw trees are part of American history and folklore. Jamestown colonists wrote about them in the 1600s. John Lawson, an Englishman, described them in his travels in the Carolinas in the 1700s. Danielle Boone enjoyed eating them. Members of the Lewis and Clark expedition ate paw paws for pleasure as well as sustenance. George Washington grew paw paw trees at Mount Vernon and ate the fruit as dessert. Thomas Jefferson grew them and sent seeds to his colleagues in Europe.  William Bartram, a naturalist, described the trees in Bartram’s Travels. His father, John Bartram, a botanist, sent seeds to Europe. During the Civil War, soldiers as well as African American slaves collected the fruit in the wild to supplement their meager diets. There is even a popular folk song called “Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch” about collecting ripe paws paws from the ground and putting them in a basket.

Paw paw fruit develop in clusters

Finding Paw Paw Trees and Fruit

Currently, Washington DC residents can see paw paw trees in the wild along the C&O Canal and Potomac River and as native plant representatives in public gardens. There are paw paw trees at the Smithsonian Pollinator Garden, next to the National Museum of Natural History, and at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s newly renovated Bartholdi Park and their National Garden’s Regional Garden of Mid-Atlantic Native Plants. 

Although paw paws are part of American heritage, you may not find them in grocery stores. When the fruit is ripe enough to eat, it drops to the ground and is highly perishable. The thin skin bruises easily, discoloring to black. Paw paws are best eaten immediately or preserved by removing and freezing the pulp. You may find them at local farmers markets in peak season and you will definitely find them at paw paw events across the country in the fall.

Growing Paw Paws in the Home Landscape

Paw paw fruits can be eaten raw

“There is a paw paw renaissance now,” said Michael Judd, owner of Ecologia, an edible and ecological landscaping service in Frederick, MD. Author of Edible Landscape with a Permaculture Twist, Michael currently is writing a book about paw paws and hosts an annual paw paw festival that will be on September 22 this year at LongCreek Homestead. “I call the paw paw an edible landscape all-stars because the tree is very attractive, low maintenance, and very fruitful.”

As native, hardy trees, paw paws can be grown in typical suburban plots. “Paw paws grow easily here,” said Michael. “This is paw paw country.” Although they are not self-fertile, that is, there must be two trees to cross pollinate to produce fruit, one can trim the trees to fit in residential properties. Michael recommends growing the trees in full sun, 10 to 12 feet apart, and cutting the central leader back to keep the trees at 8 feet. This shorten stature also makes them easier to harvest the fruit. Therefore, homeowners could have two 8-f00t trees in the yard producing 50 pounds of fruit each year. If full sun is not possible, they can grow in part shade but will produce less fruit.

Paw paw trees have a pyramidal shape

Michael recommends purchasing either a grafted tree, a select seedling, or a specific cultivar. Starting from seed takes years to produce fruit. Also starting from a wild paw paw seed will result in less than desirable fruit. The taste of wild paw paws varies plus the fruit is small with a poor pulp to seed ratio.  Breeders spend years selecting desirable characteristics such as large fruit, a high pulp to seed ratio (more pulp, less seed), and good flavor.

You can’t go wrong planting paw paws. They are native, deer resistant trees that provide fruit and pretty yellow fall color. “Paw paw trees are very ornamental, they have a beautiful pyramidal shape,” explained Michael. “The leaves turn to a beautiful yellow golden color in the fall and when the leaves drop they reveal a tree with nice architecture in the winter.”

All photos taken by Michael Judd.