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Learn about Maypops

Maypops: Potted Fruit Plant

How to Plant

Planting Potted Plants: 

  • Choose a location in full sun in an area with loose, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0. Maypops prefer to be sheltered from cold winds, so near a south-facing wall would be ideal. Bear in mind that maypops is a vining plant and will need a support to grow on. 
  • Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 6-12 inches removing any debris, and lightly raking as level as possible.
  • The addition of organic matter (leaf mold, compost, well-rotted manure) benefits all gardens and is essential in recently constructed neighborhoods.
  • Space plants 3-5 feet apart in the garden. 
  • Dig a hole at least 2 times the size of the root ball.
  • Set the plant in the hole so that the root ball is level with the surrounding soil, back fill and press the soil firmly into the hole cavity. 
  • Water deeply. The water will seal off any air pockets around the root ball. 
  • Use a stick or marker to indicate where the plant is planted.  

How to Grow

  • Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients. Control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
  • Mulch around the plants to a depth of 2-3 inches or organic matter to preserve moisture and prevent weeds. For fruit plants an organic mulch of aged bark or shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
  • Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1-2 inches of rain per week during the growing season. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
  • Maypops prefers a poor soil and too much fertilizer can cause the plants to produce lush vegetative growth at the expense of flowers.
  • As the vines grow, train them on a support system such as a trellis or fence. Maypops grows with tendrils that will twine around a trellis.  
  • Maypops can send up runners from the roots; remove them to keep the plant in check.
  • Monitor for Pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
  • Plants die back to the ground in fall. In spring prune off only dead and broken shoots and foliage, leaving the main vine to grow on.
  • Mulch roots after the ground freezes in the winter.

Harvest and Preserving Tips

  • Some hand pollination can help with fruit set.
  • Harvest in late summer to early autumn; September- November.
  • Ripe fruit will be about the size of an egg.
  • Ripe fruit is wrinkly and will pull easily from the vine; or wait for the mature fruit to drop before harvesting.
  • Fresh fruit can be stored for a week or two at cool room temperature. Do not let the fruit dry out.

Common Disease Problems

Fusarium Wilt: This is caused by a soil-borne fungus. The fungus enters through the roots and passes up into the stem producing toxic substances. Spores can also enter through the leaves from water splashing onto them as well. The first sign is yellow leaves followed by dying and dropping leaves. Burpee Recommends: Destroy affected plants at the first sign of fusarium.

Leaf Blights: These cause tan spotting on the foliage and the plants to lose vigor. Burpee Recommends Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations. 

Root Knot Nematodes: Microscopic worm-like pests that cause swellings (galls) to form on roots. Plants may wilt or appear stunted. This is a serious problem in many Southern states. Burpee Recommends: Do not plant into infested soil. Grow resistant varieties. Try planting ‘Nema-Gone’ marigolds around your plants. 

Virus (Various causes): The most characteristic sign of virus is distorted or stunted leaves, small or distorted fruit and poor growth. Plants may weaken or die. Healthy plants usually recover from it. Burpee Recommends: Keep plants healthy and growing. Weak or dying plants should be removed.  There are no available treatments. 

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap. 

Leaf Scorch: Leaves suddenly turn black and no disease or insects are present. Leaves are scorched from the sun. Burpee Recommends: This usually is only an aesthetic problem and no action needed. If this is a serious problem consider providing afternoon shade. Water in the morning or evening during times of drought.

Scale: Small bugs look like brown, black, gray to white bumps on the stems of plants. Scale may not have any apparent legs and may not move. Scales have a sucking mouth part. Scale may produce honeydew so leaves and stems may be sticky. Scale can weaken the plant causing it to grow very slowly and may wilt at the middle of the day. Burpee Recommends: Completely spray the stems with insecticidal soap. Destroy vines at the end of the year; do not compost them. For a severe infestation contact your local Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations for your area. 

Slugs: These pests leave large holes in the foliage or eat leaves entirely. They leave a slime trail, feed at night and are mostly a problem in damp weather. Burpee Recommends: Hand pick, at night if possible. You can try attracting the slugs to traps either using cornmeal or beer. For a beer trap, dig a hole in the ground and place a large cup or bowl into the hole; use something that has steep sides so that the slugs can’t crawl back out when they’re finished. Fill the bowl about ¾ of the way full with beer, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, the bowl should be full of drowned slugs that can be dumped out for the birds to eat. For a cornmeal trap, put a tablespoon or two of cornmeal in a jar and put it on its side near the plants. Slugs are attracted to the scent but they cannot digest it and it will kill them. You can also try placing a barrier around your plants of diatomaceous earth or even coffee grounds. They cannot crawl over these.

Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations. 

Maypops FAQs

Do maypops attract pollinators to the garden? Maypops are visited by bees, butterflies and humming birds.

There are caterpillars on my maypops, what should I do? Maypops are host plants for butterfly larvae including: gulf fritillary, variegated fritillary, julie and zebra longwing butterflies. Unless it is a very bad infestation it is best just to leave them alone.

What do maypop fruits taste like? Maypops have an apricot-like flavor.

How do I eat a maypop? Like citrus fruit, the outer rind is peeled away to reveal a cavity of edible pulp and seeds.

My maypop isn’t up yet what should I do? Maypops start growing late in the spring after most plants have already started growing. They usually pop up in mid to late May.

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