How to Grow Kiwi: A Guide to Juicy, Sweet Fruit at Home

Are you ready to embark on an exciting gardening adventure and enjoy the delicious, juicy rewards of your efforts?

Look no further, as growing kiwi at home is an excellent way to achieve this goal. Known for their sweet, tropical flavor and unique texture, kiwis are a delightful and nutritious addition to your fruit garden.

In this article, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to grow kiwi plants successfully, whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out.

From selecting the right kiwi variety to understanding the specific care requirements, our easy-to-follow guide will set you on the path to cultivating your very own kiwi vines.

So, let’s get started on this fruitful journey and discover the steps to grow juicy, sweet kiwis right in your own backyard!

Kiwi Growing Guide

AttributeKiwi
Planting MonthsLate winter to early spring
Harvest MonthsLate summer to mid-fall (August to October)
Temperature60 – 75 F
Planting Depth1/4 inch (seeds) or same depth as the nursery pot (transplants)
Spacing10-15 ft apart for vines, rows 10-15 ft apart
Sunlight6-8 hours per day
DirectionNorth or Northwest
DrainageGood Drainage
pH LevelSlightly acidic (5.5 to 6.5)
Companion PlantsGrapes, passion fruit, and pole beans
Health BenefitsAntioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber. Supports immune system, heart health, and digestive system

Climate and Soil Requirements

Temperature

Kiwifruit vines thrive in a temperate climate with mild winters and warm summers. They grow best in areas with an average temperature range of 50 to 85°F (10 to 30°C).

Temperatures below 10°F (-12°C) can cause damage to the plant, while temperatures above 95°F (35°C) can cause sunburn and dehydration.

Soil Type

Kiwifruit vines prefer soil that is acidic, with a pH level between 5.0 and 6.8.

When it comes to soil composition, the vine isn’t super picky but does best in a blend that is fertile, moist, and well-draining.

Heavy clay soil should be avoided as it can retain too much water and lead to root rot.

Before planting, it’s a good idea to test your soil to determine its nutrient content and pH level. If the soil is too alkaline, you can add sulfur to lower the pH. If the soil is too acidic, you can add lime to raise the pH.

Remember, kiwifruit vines have a deep root system and require ample space to grow.

When planting your vines, space each one approximately 10 feet apart to give them plenty of room to grow and thrive.

Choosing Kiwi Varieties

When choosing kiwi varieties to grow, there are a few things to keep in mind.

One of the most important considerations is whether the variety is self-fertile or requires a male and female plant for pollination.

Some varieties, such as ‘Hayward’, require a male and female plant, while others, like ‘Issai’, are self-fertile.

Another factor to consider is the hardiness of the plant. Kiwi plants are generally hardy to USDA zone 8, but some varieties, such as ‘Arctic Beauty’, are hardy to zone 4.

If you live in a colder climate, choose a variety that can withstand your winters.

Finally, you should consider the flavor and texture of the fruit.

Kiwi varieties can vary in flavor from sweet to tart, and in texture from smooth to fuzzy. Some popular varieties include:

  • ‘Hayward’: This is the most common variety of kiwi, with a sweet flavor and fuzzy texture.
  • ‘Issai’: This self-fertile variety produces small, sweet fruit with smooth skin.
  • ‘Arctic Beauty’: This hardy variety produces small, sweet fruit with smooth skin and a red blush.
  • ‘Ken’s Red’: This variety produces large, sweet fruit with smooth skin and a red flesh.
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kiwi varieties

Ultimately, the variety you choose will depend on your climate, pollination needs, and personal taste preferences.

Consider planting a few different varieties to see which ones thrive in your garden and produce the best fruit.

Planting Kiwi

Planting kiwi is an important step in growing your own kiwi fruit. In this section, we will cover the best time to plant kiwi and some planting techniques to help you get started.

Planting Time

The best time to plant kiwi is in the spring, after the last frost. This gives the plant time to establish its roots before the hot summer months.

If you live in a warmer climate, you can also plant kiwi in the fall.

Planting Techniques

When planting kiwi, it is important to choose a sunny location with well-draining soil.

Kiwi vines prefer soil that is acidic, with a pH level between 5.0 and 6.8. If your soil is not acidic enough, you can add sulfur to lower the pH level.

Before planting, dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the root ball of the plant. Gently remove the plant from its container and loosen any tangled roots.

Place the plant in the hole and backfill with soil, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Water the plant thoroughly.

Kiwi plants are dioecious, which means they require both male and female plants to produce fruit.

Be sure to plant at least one male plant for every 8-10 female plants. Male plants do not produce fruit, but are necessary for pollination.

It is also important to provide support for your kiwi vines. They can grow up to 20 feet tall, so a strong trellis or support system is necessary. You can use a wire trellis or a sturdy fence for support.

Caring for Kiwi Plants

Now that you have planted your kiwi vines, caring for them properly will ensure a healthy and fruitful harvest.

Here are some tips on how to care for your kiwi plants:

Watering

Kiwi plants require consistent and regular watering, especially during the growing season. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, as kiwi plants do not tolerate waterlogged soil well.

Water your kiwi plants deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather and soil conditions.

You can also mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Fertilizing

Kiwi plants require regular fertilization to thrive. Fertilize your plants in the spring with a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer.

Apply the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package, and make sure to water the plants well after fertilizing.

Avoid fertilizing your kiwi plants in the fall, as this can promote new growth that may be damaged by winter frost.

Pruning

Pruning is an important part of caring for kiwi plants, as it helps to promote healthy growth and fruit production.

Prune your kiwi vines in the late winter or early spring before new growth appears.

Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased wood, as well as any shoots that are growing in the wrong direction or crossing over other branches.

Thin out the center of the plant to improve air circulation and sunlight penetration.

Also, remove any lateral shoots that are growing from the main trunk or older wood, as these can compete with the main branches for nutrients and water.

Caring for kiwi plants may seem daunting at first, but with a little knowledge and effort, you can grow healthy and productive vines that will provide you with delicious fruit for years to come.

Pest and Disease Control

When growing kiwi, be aware of the potential pests and diseases that can affect your plants.

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By taking preventative measures and knowing how to identify and treat these issues, you can help ensure a healthy crop.

Common Pests

Kiwi vines are susceptible to a variety of pests, including:

  • Two-spotted spider mites: These tiny pests can cause yellowing and stippling of leaves. They can be controlled with horticultural oil.
  • Leafrollers: These caterpillars can damage fruit and foliage. They can be controlled with insecticidal soap or Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
  • Thrips: These pests can cause stunted growth and leaf damage. They can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Japanese beetles: These beetles can skeletonize leaves and damage fruit. They can be controlled with handpicking or insecticides.

Common Diseases

Kiwi vines can also be affected by various diseases, including:

  • Root rot: This fungal disease can cause wilting and yellowing of leaves. It can be prevented by planting in well-draining soil and avoiding over-watering.
  • Crown rot: This fungal disease can cause wilting and dieback of branches. It can be prevented by planting in well-draining soil and avoiding over-fertilization.
  • Anthracnose: This fungal disease can cause brown spots on leaves and fruit. It can be prevented by practicing good sanitation and avoiding overhead watering.
  • Bacterial canker: This bacterial disease can cause sunken cankers on branches and trunks. It can be prevented by avoiding mechanical damage to plants and practicing good sanitation.

Harvesting Kiwi

Once your kiwi vines have produced fruit, it’s time to harvest them. Kiwis are ready to be picked when they are soft to the touch and have a sweet aroma.

Make sure you wait until they are fully ripe before harvesting, as they will not ripen further once they are removed from the vine.

To harvest kiwis, gently twist the fruit off the vine or cut the stem with a sharp knife. Be careful not to damage the fruit or the vine.

Kiwis can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six weeks. If you plan on storing them, it’s best to pick them just before they are fully ripe.

If early fall frosts are a concern, you can harvest kiwi fruits when they are still firm but have black seeds.

These fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six weeks. Remove them from the refrigerator and allow them to soften for a couple of days before eating.

Softness is not always a reliable indicator of ripeness. Size, date, and when in doubt, cut open a fruit to access the seeds inside- when seeds are black, it is time for kiwi fruit harvest.

Once you have harvested your kiwis, you can enjoy them fresh or use them in a variety of recipes.

Kiwis can be eaten on their own, added to fruit salads, or used to make smoothies. They can also be used in baked goods, such as muffins or pies.

TipDescription
Wait for full ripenessHarvest kiwis when they are soft to the touch and have a sweet aroma.
Handle with careGently twist the fruit off the vine or cut the stem with a sharp knife to avoid damaging the fruit or the vine.
Store properlyKiwis can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six weeks. If you plan on storing them, it’s best to pick them just before they are fully ripe.

Conclusion

Congratulations on taking the first step towards growing your own kiwi fruit! With the right care and attention, you can enjoy the sweet and tangy taste of fresh kiwi from your own backyard.

Remember to choose a sunny, sheltered spot with fertile, well-draining soil, and to plant both male and female vines for optimal fruit production.

Be sure to provide adequate support for your vines with a sturdy trellis or pergola, and to prune them regularly to maintain their shape and promote healthy growth.

Water your plants regularly, but be careful not to overwater, as kiwis prefer moist but well-drained soil.

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Don’t be discouraged if your kiwi vines don’t produce fruit right away – it can take several years for them to mature and begin bearing fruit. In the meantime, enjoy the fragrant flowers and lush foliage of your kiwi plants.

Remember to be patient and consistent in your care, and you will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest of delicious kiwi fruit. Happy growing!

How to Grow Kiwi FAQs

How long does it take to grow a kiwi fruit?

It typically takes between 3 to 7 years for kiwi plants to reach maturity and produce fruit. The exact time it takes for kiwi plants to produce fruit depends on the variety of kiwi, growing conditions, and the age of the plant when it was planted. Some kiwi varieties, such as the hardy kiwi, may produce fruit as early as 1-2 years after planting, while other varieties may take up to 7 years to produce fruit. Kiwi plants require proper care, including regular watering, fertilizing, and pruning, to ensure healthy growth and fruit production.

What climate does kiwi grow in?

Kiwi fruit grows best in temperate climates with mild winters and long, warm summers. The ideal temperature range for kiwi plants is between 65-80°F (18-27°C) during the growing season. However, the optimal temperature range may vary depending on the variety of kiwi being grown. Generally, kiwi plants need warm temperatures to set fruit and develop a sweet flavor. When temperatures dip below 65°F (18°C), kiwi flowers won’t set fruit, and the fruit that does develop will be of poor quality. Kiwi plants also require a period of cold (around 45 degrees Fahrenheit for at least a month) to set fruit, making them well-suited for regions with cool winters. Additionally, kiwi plants prefer well-draining soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 and require regular watering during the growing season.

Do you need 2 kiwi plants to get fruit?

Yes, you need both male and female kiwi plants to produce fruit. This is because kiwi plants are dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers are produced on separate plants. Female kiwi plants produce the fruit, while male kiwi plants produce the pollen necessary for fertilization. Therefore, it is necessary to have at least one male kiwi plant for every six female kiwi plants to ensure proper pollination and fruit production.

How do I know if I have a male or female kiwi plant?

You can determine if you have a male or female kiwi plant by examining the flowers. Female kiwi plants produce flowers with a multibranched stigma in the middle of the flower, while male kiwi plants produce flowers with a circle of anthers in the center. Additionally, female kiwi flowers have bright white, well-defined ovaries at the base of the flower, which are absent in male flowers. The ovaries are the part of the flower that develops into fruit. If you have both male and female kiwi plants, the female plant will produce fruit while the male plant will only produce flowers. 

Can you eat the skin of a kiwi?

Yes, you can eat the skin of a kiwi fruit. In fact, the skin of the kiwi fruit is entirely edible and contains many beneficial nutrients. Kiwi skin has a high concentration of antioxidants, particularly vitamin C and vitamin E, which fight free-radical damage in many areas of the body. Eating a whole kiwi with the skin on also increases its fiber content by a whopping 50% more than if you eat it without its skin, making it a great source of fiber. However, some people may not like the fuzzy texture of the skin, and it is recommended to wash the fruit thoroughly before consuming it to remove any dirt or pesticides.

Is A kiwi a tree or a bush?

A kiwi is not a tree or a bush, but rather a woody vine. Kiwi vines are known for their rapid growth and can climb up to 20 to 30 feet in a single season. They can be grown on trellises or fences, and they require a sunny location with well-drained soil. Kiwi vines are dioecious, which means that male and female flowers grow on separate plants. Therefore, it is necessary to plant both male and female plants to ensure fruit production.

Wrapping Up

Growing kiwi at home is a fruitful endeavor (see what we did there?!) that enables you to enjoy the sweet taste of freshly picked kiwis from your own garden.

By following the guidance and tips provided in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to cultivate thriving kiwi plants and savor the juicy, delicious fruit they produce.

As you begin your kiwi-growing journey, remember that patience and attention to detail are key factors in ensuring a successful harvest.

With time and practice, your kiwi vines will be thriving and giving you something sweet. So, go ahead and give kiwi cultivation a try – your taste buds and your garden will thank you for it!