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Kiwi Vine Kiwi Vine

Kiwi is so named because the growers in New Zealand through the fruits resembled their national bird – The Kiwi. Prior to this it was known as a Chinese gooseberry after its discovery in the 19th century.

It used to be considered too big for most gardens, as not only were the older varieties rampant growers (shoots would reach up to 30ft if left unchecked), but you would also need both a male and a female plant to produce fruit! There are now however now some newer varieties that are both less rampant, self-pollinating, and more hardy, meaning that growing it in your garden or plot is now a viable option.

Kiwi Growing Guide

Kiwi plants are not overly fussed on soil conditions, but they do prefer a sandy loam. They are usually supplied in pots and can therefore be planted at any time of year, however if possible plant in early spring before the plant comes to life again.

The plant needs a warm sheltered spot, away from frost pockets and strong winds. The vine is great for growing against a south facing wall on wire supports (the wall will absorb the heat during the day, and release it again during the night protecting the vine from frost).

Kiwi vines will need support as they grow as a twining climber., so if growing against a wall put wire supports in place, if growing in a ‘standalone’ location build a simple stake and wire support system (as in the photo above).

Prepare the soil well in advance and dig in some well-rotted manure – but make sure you do this at least a few months before you are ready to plant your vine.

When ready for planting, dig a hole big enough for the rootball, and then give both the ground and the vine a good soaking. Remove the vine from the pot and place in the hole at the same depth as the plant was supplied in the pot.

Prune each shoot back to 30cm above ground immediately after planting and keep well watered until established.

Whilst they are winter hardy, the shoots are not frost resistant, so once the vine starts to grow in spring watch out for late frosts and protect with fleece as necessary. When the flowers develop in summer water the plant fortnightly with tomato feed, although Kiwi vines do take a few years to establish, so don’t expect the plant to produce many flowers or fruit for a few years, and it is unlikely to be very productive until it is about 7 years old.

They can also be grown under glass in an unheated greenhouse. This method is more likely to guarantee a better fruit crop, however they do need a lot of space. If you have the space to allocate then make sure they are planted in the ground (they are too rampant to be kept in a pot).

Pruning Kiwis

In the first and second years you should cut back the growth in early summer when it has reached the top wire. This will encourage lateral shoots. Then in summer train one shoot along each wire, pinching them out when they reach the end of the wire.

In subsequent summers pinch back the laterals to  six orseven leaves beyond the last fruit. Then in winter cut back the laterals to two buds beyond where the last fruit was produced.

Hard pruning will encourage new growth, and result in larger, earlier fruit.

Propagating Kiwis

Cuttings can be taken, however it is best to buy named varieties from a certified nursery.

Kiwi Varieties

Look out for the modern self-fertile varieties such as Jenny or Duo.

Phyl @ The Allotment Gardener

Lifelong gardener and allotment enthusiast. Now have 3 allotments!

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