Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California

Growing Kiwifruit:
Actinidia deliciosa

Back to Fruit, Berries and Nuts

Botanical Overview

A member of the Chinese Gooseberry family (Actinidiaceae) 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. There are cultivars with self-fruitful, bisexual flowers, but they fail in high summer temperatures.
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: Kiwifruit vine climbs by twining around supports. It has no thorns or tendrils.
Roots: One-half of the total root mass usually grows within a 6-13' depth. The roots probably grow deeper. Cultivars are grafted onto seedling rootstocks.
Cultivars of Note:
'Tomari' a male used to pollinate females.
'Vincent' a female with a low chill requirement.
Wildlife: The flowers attract pollinating insects, but rarely bees and not butterflies due to the lack of nectar.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: China.

social icons Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram

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

Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 7-9.
Chill hours: 100-400, depending on cultivar.
Heat tolerant: Temperatures over 85°F require significant part shade to near full, open shade all day and frequent water.
Drought tolerant: No. Drooping leaves, browning of leaf margins, and leaf drop are symptoms of insufficient water.
Sun: This plant needs full sun during blooming or the crop size is greatly reduced. Part shade during fruit development results in lower fruit quality but can be successful. Temperatures over 85°F require part shade to full, open shade.
Planting: This plant cannot be grown in a region with alkaline soil due to its root depth. In a hot, dry region with neutral soil: [1] Locate the vines in an area that receives full sun which can be switched to part shade in temperatures over 85°F, is sheltered from strong wind, and has at least a 10' soil depth. [2] Dig a garden trench 5' wide and 2' deep, allowing 10' of length for each vine (centered) to avoid root competition for nutrients. For example, with two vines, the trench should be 20' long. [3] Fill the trench with well draining, highly organic, acidic soil. [4] Install a strong trellis. [5] Plant the vines after the last frost date.
These plants do not grow well in containers.
Soil: Well drained, 10' deep, high in organic content, pH 5.1-6.5 (strongly acidic to slightly acidic). It will tolerate a soil pH of 6.6-7.3 (neutral), but becomes chlorotic above pH 6.0. This plant is not salt tolerant and fares poorly in alkaline soil.
Fertilize: Use an organic fertilizer, for acid-loving plants, late winter and early summer, spread up to 2.5' from the trunk. Avoid any fertilizer containing chloride, to which Kiwifruit are very sensitive. An iron supplement is used to treat chlorosis.
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.
Mulch: Spread organic mulch in a 5' radius around, and 1' away from, the trunk, to reduce moisture loss and protect the roots from temperature extremes.
Prune: The 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: Softwood cuttings, collected in July or August, treated with plant growth regulator IBA in 2000-6000 ppm concentration and rooted in full sunshine with automatic misters. Softwood cuttings grafted onto seedling rootstock.
Uses: Ornamental vine, 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.


This plant grows poorly in hot, dry regions with alkaline soil due to its preference to grow very deep roots in acidic soil, and its dislike of high temperatures.

Do you have additional information or a different experience for these plants that you would like to share? Email All contributions are welcome and appreciated.

© 2008-2023 by
Latest update: June, 2022