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Growing pawpaw seeds is not a simple task for the beginning gardener. The pawpaw seed is delicate, and must be kept moist constantly. Before they germinate, they must pass through a cooling period to activate the seed. A newly germinated pawpaw seed is sensitive to direct sunlight and must stay planted in a totally shaded area for a long time.
Unlike many other types of seeds, the pawpaw seed relies on a moist environment to stay alive. It is a bad idea to let a seed stay dry for more than a day or two because the seed dies if it becomes dried out, even for just a few days. The seed is dormant until it enters a cool, moist period lasting around three months.
Subjecting the seed to a cool, moist period is essential for successful germination. This can be done by planting the seed outside in a shady place in climates that have mild winters. In areas with unreliable weather, stratifying the seed in the refrigerator may prove safer and more reliable. A standard method for this is to seal a clean pawpaw seed in a plastic storage bag with moistened gardening moss.
Caring for a young, newly germinated pawpaw tree can be tricky. Once they are matured to about a year, pawpaw seeds can handle direct sun and mildly hot temperatures, but the first year of life for a young pawpaw tree should be spent in a shady area or greenhouse. Seedlings are highly intolerant to direct, hot sunlight and cannot simply be planted as seeds and grown in open space. If shade during germination is an issue, it may be a good idea to start with a year-old sapling that will be more tolerant to direct sunlight.
The pawpaw tree thrives in well-drained soils rich in fertilizing nutrients. These trees also need a deep growing bed, since their roots push far into the ground. Trees grown from pawpaw seeds generally do not begin producing fruit for five years. Its flowers are of a type called fetid flowers, which means they tend to stink like rotting death and should be planted far away from any populated areas where people might be offended by the smell.
Often confused in name with papaya, another tropical fruit that is vastly different, the pawpaw fruit is something like a mango-flavored banana. Though pawpaw seeds look like edible nuts and have flavor properties in common with some edible nuts, they are poisonous, and thus not remotely edible. Keep pawpaw seeds away from children and pets. Consuming these will, at best, land the eater a day or two of perpetual restroom visits, and, at worst, could cause death.
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