Vesper
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How to care for bare root pawpaw trees in winter?

I will be getting a shipment of 2 bareroot pawpaws soon. They will be about 12 inches long. I live in zone 5 and I know I cannot plant a pawpaw outdoor now, so I need some advice on the best way to keep the plants alive and dormant. I'm thinking the basement would be best? But I also don't want to run into fungus problems...Any advice would be appreciated. Yes I know this isn't a good time to be having bare root pawpaws shipped in bareroot, but there's nothing I can do about that now, just need advice please :)

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applestar
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Who in their right mind would send you in zone 5 (where everything must be frozen solid) barefoot anything, let alone pawpaw?!!! Are you sure they aren't holding shipment until spring planting time? :shock:

Here, it's currently 18°F. I wouldn't believe a package can be sufficiently insulated to keep the bareroot 12" babies to survive the transit.

My recommendation is to tell them NOT to dig up and ship until right time for you to plant in spring. Better mail-order nurseries will know better than I do when that is. IF they are able to dig the trees now, I would also be concerned that these trees are acclimated to more moderate winters than yours. (It may also mean that it would be impossible for them to comply because the trees would be out of dormancy by the time you would be able to work the ground).

I try to buy fruit/nut trees and perennials from nurseries located in same USDA Zone or colder for winter hardiness, or warmer for heat tolerance, depending on what I'm looking for.

Vesper
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Thank you for the info applestar. As I said before, I know this isn't the best time for shipment of these trees. However, my question is in regards to how I should care for the bare root trees until spring if they survive shipment. Any advice on that would be appreciated.

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applestar
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Well, I really wanted to see if you could forestall the shipment.

In my area, I wouldn't be able to plant until mid to late March, so I would think you wouldn't be able to plant until late March to early April? I honestly don't know if there IS a good way to keep them alive and dormant, and would hesitate to even hazard a guess. Will the seller give you a refund or credit if they don't?

Maybe someone else has a better answer for you....

:idea: You might check the Bonsai library forum for how dormant trees are kept in winter. Pay particular attention to hardiness zones/temps for your pawpaw (what did the seller say?)

Vesper
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To be honest, I bought these on a whim on ebay because they were relatively cheap and I didn't think I would win the bid, but I did :? :?
I contacted the seller, and he said the order has already been shipped...but I just won the bid about 2 hours ago, so I dunno. Anyway, the seller is from michigan. He said that the plants have been growing outdoors and that there is no danger of losing them during transit. He also said that I should plant all three of them in a big pot and keep outdoors until spring, then I should seperate and plant them. I would think the cold would kill them?? I'm pretty sure I just got screwed over, and I know it's my fault, but I need advice on what I should do here. At this point, I don't think there's any way I can get him to delay shipment.... :(

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rainbowgardener
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They are quite cold hardy. I would take the sellers advice about sticking them in a big pot and leaving them outside. If you have a protected area, like next to your house or something, that would be good. Be sure the pot drains well so the roots don't rot, while they are waiting for spring.
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applestar
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Hmmm.... OK, Alright. I'll just do my idea burst then.

The typical advice is to "heel in" bareroot trees that can't be planted. Google search (or whatever) this and see what you think. I would adapt that technique for these trees. There must be a reason for keeping them at the 45° angle. Remember to take care not to bend or disturb the taproot. provide PLENTY of root space. RBG's advice to put in protected location is a good one.

I think I would wrap the pot and "sticks" in burlap, perhaps stuffed with leaves or put straw around the little trunks first. Unused "so called" tomato cage (three legs and circular hoops) might provide a good support for the burlap.I would consider protecting with hardware cloth if mice or rodent is any kind of possibility. alternatively, bury in leaves/straw then cover with spare fencing.

I was also thinking refrigerator as a wild alternative if you're the sort of person to have empty shelves in the fridge. But it sounds like that won't be necessary.

I'm relieved to hear the seller is in Michigan. I realy think there must be different localized species because quite a while ago when I started even considering pawpaws, ALL catalogs I got, that offered them said "hardy to zone 6". More recently, within the last 7 or 8 years, there has been more hoopla about pawpaw as a desirable home garden item, and named cultivars, etc. started snowing up. Now they say Zone 5 or often even Zone 4. I'm still adjusting to the idea that pawpaws are cold hardy.... (though for people who liv in areas where pawpaw are native and "everywhere" this might be a strange notion :wink: )

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microcollie
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I would be tempted to skip the pot altogether and bury the trees in a mound of topsoil directly on the ground, then cover that with a thick layer of mulch. This seems that it might protect the roots a little better. I had a similar situation a few years ago when I had forgotten to prep a hole for a Christmas tree before the ground froze, and it made it through. You'll need to tend to it as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring, though. I'd uncover it and treat it like any other bare-root tree then. (Remove any damaged-looking roots, soak it in water, and plant)

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applestar
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OT -- Llooking back at my posts, I just realized that there's a typo where it says "barefoot" instead of "bareroot". :roll: It's not me, I swear! The browser's idiot auto speller/spell checker keeps replacing my correctly spelled words with it's own, and I missed that one! :o :lol: You'll see me make other equally hilarious spelling errors on occasion. :? I'm an excellent speller, really! :>

Vesper
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Thanks so much rainbow, micro, and applestar for the advice. I think I will keep them in a pot on my unheated porch, so they are protected from the cold winds at least. Is there a particular potting soil that would be best for pawpaws? And how much should I water when first planting them?

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microcollie
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Another thought came to me after I had already posted...What do you think would happen if they were potted up and kept indoors for the winter, then planted outside in the spring. I've never tried it, But at this point it seems just as safe as leaving them outside to bear the winter.

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!potatoes!
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inside is too dry and warm, you'd be exceedingly lucky if pawpaws would survive it; you'd be confusing them, they might try to leaf out early, they might just dessicate. either way, bad news.

one other option is bagging well with a slightly damp piece of paper towel or such, and refrigerating until planting time (like you'd do with a winter-grafted tree.

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rainbowgardener
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absolutely agree with potatoes. You want them to stay dormant now until spring. bringing them inside where it's warm would cause them to try to leaf out, but then the conditions would be all wrong and the timing would be all wrong for planting them later. The unheated porch would be just fine.

It doesn't particularly matter what kind of potting soil as long as it is free draining. Water them in lightly and then water very little after that. Dormant plants need very little water or light. Worst thing you can do is over water. A little bit of water every couple weeks is plenty.
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soil
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just stick the roots in a bucket of moist sand, plant it as you would normally at the base of the trunk. your basement will be ok if its not too cold. but you don't want warm, that will fool the plant and possibly cause death if it gets cold again. other wise it will be fine for more than a few weeksl, last year the local nursery was selling there bare root trees in jan, i simply layed them at a 45 degree angle outside and covered the roots with a big pile of sand. planted them over a month later and they are fine and happy.
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applestar
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I don't know, soil.... Around here, we're still looking ahead to negative single digit nights and daytime high of teens or mid-twenties at most sometime in January and Feb. I would suppose that Vesper's area will be experiencing even more challenging conditions....

Vesper
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The saplings arrived! The roots were bundled together with wet pine shavings wrapped in wet newspaper, then tightly wrapped in a plastic bag. All of this was in a cardboard package. The box looked like it did well during transit. I did as the seller suggested and planted all three in a large pot. I then lined a garbage bag with straw and set the pot in there and lined between the pot and bag with some more straw. So hopefully it's pretty well insulated. It's on my unheated porch as well. Applestar, the weather here can be variable, but were looking ahead to twenties in the day and teens at night. The worst we usually get here is single digits at night, and if it ever gets below zero, it only last for a few days, but that's rare. I'm hoping they will last through the winter. I have always wanted paw paw trees in my yard. They are native to my state, but a pretty rare sight around this area. Again thanks to everyone for the advice, I really appreciate it! :) :)

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