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.
How to Transplant a Pawpaw Tree
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.
Transplanting a Pawpaw Tree Sucker
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.