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Growing Kiwifruit / Chinese Gooseberry: Actinidia deliciosa

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Overview
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.

Description
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 cultivars.
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 the vine.
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.
Origin: China.

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 frequent water.
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 a high nitrogen fertilizer late winter and early summer broadcast up to 3' from 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 tenderizer.

Comments
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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Kiwifruit / Chinese Gooseberry: Actinidia deliciosa - fruit



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