How Can You Update a Plant That’s Gone?

Funny you should ask.

In June, the roots of the gone pawpaw were sending up shoots, but not in good spots, so I cut them down.

Lime-green pawpaw root sprouts are everywhere. Photographed on June 19, 2021.

By mid-July, a promising candidate appeared.

A pawpaw stump sprout! Photographed on July 18, 2021.

Pawpaws grow fast. I put a stake in to keep this sprout from snapping off or developing a permanent lean. I think these stakes are normally used with delphiniums, lilies, and other tall, slender plants that would be damaged if they flapped around too much.

The now-staked pawpaw stump sprout, ten days later. The unhappy plants behind it are sunburnt Japanese dwarf Solomon’s seal. Photographed on July 28, 2021.

I did my usual garden rounds early in the morning last Monday, which is pretty amusing considering the small downtown lot. I eyed my lawn,  ran my toes through it, and decided that it needed mowing.  It was dry at 7:30 a.m., so it should have been dormant. But it’s not. We’ve had rain when we do not normally have rain, so it’s still growing. Since it was dry, I mowed. A few hours later, it rained, and it’s been raining off and on since. When it’s “on,” it’s a monsoon. We are having the edge-of-the-hurricane-system rains that you would expect in late August or September on the east coast.

We had close to 3 inches of rain overnight at the airport, but other weather stations in town reported up to 5 inches. I need a rain gauge. I suspect we had more than 3 inches. It was a dramatic electrical storm—a crack of thunder right over my bed blasted me to consciousness shortly after 1 a.m.

The pawpaw stump sprout was standing in a big puddle in its unofficial rain garden at 7:15 this morning. It was far too wet to go outside and get a picture, but it’s enjoying the sunlight between the storms right now.

The same pawpaw, after an invigorating night of electrical storms and deluge. Photographed on August 12, 2021.

The stake keeping the pawpaw from flapping around too much has not been moved. Notice how much more plant there is above the stake than there was two weeks earlier.

This is definitely coming up from the stump in a good spot, so the plan for now is to let it grow. The gone tree was the one with the good pawpaws, and there will be no pawpaws at all until this sprout blooms. The shade-loving spring ephemera surrounding it will be relieved to have the shade.

Now you know how you can have an update on a gone plant. More rain is coming. Soon.