Kiwi has more fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K than oranges, apples, bananas, strawberries and blueberries. It also helps you absorb more iron from the foods you eat. There are approximately 50 types of kiwi fruit. The variety you choose to grow in your landscape will depend upon your zone and the space you have available. Choose your kiwi plant types by your location but also by your flavor and size preferences.
How To Grow Your Own Kiwi?
1. Kiwi Plant Identification
In order for the plant to set fruit, both male and female kiwi vines are necessary. In fact, at least one male plant for every eight female kiwi plants is required. Understanding the difference between male and female kiwi vines will determine whether the plant will set fruit.
Male kiwi flowers have a brilliantly colored yellow center due to its pollen bearing anthers. Males are really only useful for one thing and that is making lots and lots of pollen, hence, they are heavy producers of pollen that is attractive to pollinators which carry it off to nearby female kiwi vines.
Because the male kiwi vines do not bear fruit, they put all of their energy into vine growth and are, thus, often more vigorous and larger than their female counterparts.
Female kiwi plant identification will appear as flowers with long sticky stigmas radiating out from the center of the bloom. Additionally, the female flowers do not produce pollen. When determining the sex of kiwi blooms, the female will also have bright white, well defined ovaries at the base of the flower, which, of course, the males lack. The ovaries, by the way, are the parts that develop into fruit.
The burden of pollination rests mostly with honeybees, though wind and other beneficial insects also play a role. With few exceptions, a separate, non-fruiting male plant is needed to fertilize (and induce fruiting) of female plants. The male should be no further than 35 feet from females. Do not be surprised if it appears that female flowers have stamens, the male flower parts. The stamens are there, but the pollen they shed is sterile. Similarly, male flowers have small, nonfunctional ovaries.
The male flower is charged with pollinating the female flower and is equipped with pollen-heavy stamens that attract the birds and the bees. The female flower has stamens though they are sterile and cannot pollinate themselves. Upon close inspection, you can see the ovule and stigma whose “sticky disposition” helps hold the pollen. One male plant can fertilize the flowers of 8 or so females and male and female plants need not be the same species of kiwi tree in order to cross-pollinate. Bloom times of male and female flowers must coincide, though.
2. Location and Soil
This subtropical fruit adapts well in USDA zones 8-10. One mature kiwi plants may yield up to 50 pounds or more of fruit after an eight to 12-year period. They should be planted on north facing slopes or sites shielded from low winter and early spring sun by buildings or trees. They must also be planted in well drained soil. Soil pH should be between 5.0 and 6.5.
We have established that planting female kiwis next to males is recommended if you desire fruit production. Set the vines in the spring in loose soil amended with plenty of compost and a time release organic fertilizer. Space female vines 15 feet apart generally. The males do not need to be right next to the females but at least within a distance of 50 feet. They can also be planted right next to the female if you have a space issue.
When setting plants in the ground in soil that doesn’t drain perfectly, plant each vine atop a raised mound of earth. Kiwi trees are rampant plants and their trunks never become sturdy enough to hold the plants up off the ground of their own accord. You can train your kiwi fruit onto a pergola, fence or up a tree in warmer climates. A trellis used by commercial kiwi tree growers consists of wires stretched between 6-foot-high T-bar supports spaced 15 to 20 feet apart.
In order to keep your kiwi vines healthy and growing, the soil will eventually need to be replenished with nutrients. We suggest feeding it an organic fertilizer, once it has developed a nice little set of leaves. Dig a little trench around the base of your vines, fill it with compost and water it well. Or, serve it up as compost tea. Try feeding your vines a few times each year or as needed, but do not overfeed! When it comes to fertilizing, less it best; so if in doubt, put it off a bit longer. If you’re not sure how much fertilizer to use, read this guide from Owens Bros Tree Service.
The only way to keep a kiwi vine vigorous and productive is to adhere to a regular pruning schedule. Pruning also stimulates an annual flush of new wood, important because flowers and hence, fruits, are borne toward the bases of current seasons shoots that grow from canes that grew the previous year only. Not all the new shoots that grow from the previous year’s canes will fruit.
Some canes may have been too shaded the year before, or the vine may be too young. Those canes that are fruitful will produce fruiting shoots at their basal half-dozen or so buds. The buds further out are capable of producing shoots that will fruit the next year. Do most of the kiwi plant trimming in the cool season while the plant is dormant. However, you’ll also need to prune the vine back several times during the summer to keep it under control.
Summer pruning of kiwi trees is aimed at keeping the lusty vines in bounds. The trunks must be kept clear of shoots, so any that form are cut away as soon as noticed. Also, cut back excessively rampant shoots growing off the cordons to short stubs, which leaves buds for future replacement arms. Any tangled shoots should be cut away before the vine starts to strangle itself. One other bit of summer pruning: shorten fruiting arms and their laterals if they get too long.
Since male plants are needed only for their bloom, they can be pruned sharply right after they bloom, removing about 70 percent of the previous year’s growth. Cut back their flowering shoots to a new shoot, which will flower the following year. Male vines do not need to put any energy into fruit production, so generally are more vigorous than female vines.
If you neglect pruning, kiwis quickly grow into a tangled mess of woody vines. The first step to pruning overgrown kiwi vines is to remove all of the branches that wind around the kiwi trellis. Also, remove vines sections wound around other branches or nearby plants. When you are pruning out these branches, use sharp, sterilized pruners. Make the cuts at 45-degree angles about one inch from the main vine.
The next step when pruning mature kiwi vines is to trim out cross branches. This includes branches growing over or crossing other branches. An arborist can cut these back to an inch from the main vine stem and trim out shoots growing straight out from the stem since these will not bear fruit. Select a principal stem for the kiwi vine and train this straight up a trellis. It should get some 6 feet long. Just beyond this point, allow two lateral side shoots to grow over the trellis. Prune these back to three buds, then remove all other lateral shoots. All kiwi trees need annual pruning for maximum fruit production.
A mature kiwifruit vine can produce more than 200 pounds of fruit. Harvest semi-tropical kiwifruits by snapping them off their stalks when the skins turn brown and samples of cut fruit show black seeds.
The fruit will be hard, but will soften and sweeten in a week at room temperature. In a cool room, such fruit will keep for two months. If the fruit is refrigerated to near freezing, and the humidity maintained at 95 percent (with a plastic bag having just a few small holes, for example), the fruit will store for 9 months.
If your kiwi is not blooming?
The reason could be due to a number of reasons. Kiwi plants must reach a certain maturity before they are able to produce flowers and fruit. Typically, this takes three years. Sometimes it takes longer.
Kiwis, like many other fruiting plants, require a certain number of winter chill hours, between 32 F and 45 F to set flowers and fruit. Make sure you purchase kiwi vines that are appropriate to your climate.