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Growing Kiwifruit: Actinidia deliciosa

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A member of the Actinidiaceae family which includes 3 genera and about 360 species, Actinidia deliciosa: Kiwifruit, 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 the female.
Bloom: Spring, after leaf-out, or fall. These 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 occurs after 8-12 years.
Fruit: The skin is tan and fuzzy and usually not eaten. Its 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. The fruit is mature when its seeds have turned black. One fruit must be picked and cut open each week from the first week of October on, until the 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. The fruit ripen 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 become 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 the 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 the lack of nectar.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: China.

By Luca83 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid-2801141.jpg

Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 7-9.
Chill hours: 100-400, depending on cultivar.
Heat tolerant: Slightly. Temperatures over 85°F require significant part shade to near full, open shade all day and frequent water.
Sun: Part shade to full, open 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 compost 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) are used to make jams and jellies. It is also used to make wine, and as a meat tenderizer.


Another common name is Chinese Gooseberry, although it is not related to the Gooseberry. A similar species, and becoming more available, is Actinidia chinensis, which has yellow flesh. Actinidia arguta, Hardy Kiwifruit, is cold hardy and grows farther north.

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Latest update: December, 2018