A member of the Actinidiaceae family which includes 3 genera and about
360 species. Actinidia deliciosa: Kiwifruit, or Chinese Gooseberry,
is the best known plant in the family.
Form: A woody, twining vine.
Lifespan: 50 years.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Moderate to rapid.
Mature Size: 30' long.
Flowers: White changing to pale yellow, 5-6 petals, fragrant,
lacking nectar, male and female on separate plants, both sexes having
many stamens but without pollen on female.
Bloom: Spring, after leaf-out, or fall. Plants tend to bloom heavily and
lightly in alternate years, affecting fruit production.
Self-fruitful: No. Both male and female plants need to be grown,
in a ratio of 1 male to 6-10 females. The male should be upwind if in
a prevailing wind location.
Years before fruiting: 2-5. Full productivity after 8-12 years.
Fruit: Skin is tan and fuzzy. Flesh is green with small black seeds
and a pale yellow center. The entire fruit is edible on the best
Months for fruit to ripen: About 6. Fruit is mature when seeds have
turned black. One fruit must be picked and cut open each week from first
week of October on until seeds have turned black. Remove fruit of the
same size when harvesting and save the smaller immature ones until later.
Do not wait until fruit have softened before harvesting. Fruit ripens off
Storage after harvest: Refrigerated and placed in a vented plastic
bag, hard kiwi can last 2 months. Fruit will ripen at room temperature
and becomes ready to eat when soft. Soft kiwi should be eaten within 2 days.
Leaves: Green, round to nearly heart-shaped.
Stems: No thorns or tendrils. Climbs by twining around supports.
Roots: Shallow. Cultivars are normally grafted onto special rootstocks.
Cultivars of Note: 'Jenny' is self-fertile, not needing a male plant,
and is ripe when fruit is entirely brown. 'Tomari' is a male used to
pollinate females. 'Vincent' is a female with a low chill requirement.
Wildlife: Attracts insects, but rarely bees and not butterflies due
to lack of nectar.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 7-9.
Chill hours: 100-400, depending on cultivar.
Heat tolerant: Slightly. Temperatures over 85°F require 50% all day shade and
Sun: Full sun to part shade.
Drought tolerant: No. Drooping leaves, browning of leaf margins, and
leaf drop are symptoms of insufficient water.
Water after becoming established: Deep water 2-3 times a week in the hottest part of year,
especially when fruiting. Do not allow soil to dry out.
Soil: Well drained, moist, high in organic content, pH 5.1-6.5 (strongly acidic
to slightly acidic).
Fertilize: Use composted manure late winter and early summer
spread up to 3' from the trunk.
Mulch: Aged compost, spread 1' away from trunk, reduces moisture loss.
Prune: Vines must be supported with a strong trellis. One main stem is allowed to grow 6' high
and then sideways. Lateral shoots are cut back in winter after fruiting.
Litter: Leaves in fall and fruit if not harvested.
Propagation: Cuttings grafted onto selected rootstock, seed.
Uses: Edible fruit, eaten raw. Slightly under-ripe fruit (high in pectin)
used to make jams and jellies. Also used to make wine, and as a meat
Not related to the Gooseberry. Another species, very similar, and becoming
more available, is Actinidia chinensis, which has yellow flesh. Hardy Kiwifruit,
Actinidia arguta, is cold hardy and grows farther north.
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