Deciduous, Edible fruit, Vines
These East Asian vines are remarkably vigorous and beautiful, producing fruit whose flavor is a combination of melon, strawberry, and banana. Fuzzy-skinned kiwifruit (the type sold in markets) has a delicious piquancy; other kinds taste sweeter. Unless you have a self-fruitful variety, you will need to grow a male plant nearby to pollenize the fruit-bearing female.
Supply sturdy support such as a pergola, fence, or wall; guide and tie vines to the structure as necessary.
Grow in well-drained soil with regular applications of nitrogen fertilizer. Plants burn in salty or alkaline soils. During dormancy, prune for best form and fruit production. Cut back to one or two main trunks and remove closely parallel or crossing branches. Fruit is borne on shoots from year-old or older wood; cut out shoots that have fruited for 3 years and shorten younger shoots, leaving three to seven buds beyond previous summer’s fruit. In summer, shorten overlong shoots and unwind any shoots twining around main branches. Because the male pollenizer’s sole purpose is flower production, you can prune it back drastically after bloom.
Note that this vine can take 5 years from planting to flowering. Sometimes called Chinese gooseberry vine, it twines to 30 ft. if not curbed. Roundish leaves are rich dark green above, velvety white below. New growth often has rich red fuzz. Spring flowers are 1–1 1/2 in. wide, opening cream-colored and fading to buff. Fuzzy, brown-skinned, green-fleshed fruit is the size and shape of an egg.
‘Hayward’ is the most common fruiting variety. ‘Saanichton’, a female type from Vancouver Island, Canada, is a good choice for cooler areas. Use ‘Chico Male’, ‘Tomuri’, or plants sold simply as “male” to pollenize ‘Hayward’ and ‘Saanichton’. ‘Vincent’, in spite of its masculine name, is a female variety that needs little winter chill and grows well in warmest-winter climates; use ‘Chico Male’ as a pollenizer. Male hardy kiwi varieties can also supply pollen for female fuzzy-skinned kiwis.
Start harvesting when the first fruits just begin to soften or when fruits turn from greenish brown to fully brown. Let kiwis finish ripening off the tree; egg cartons make perfect ripening/storage containers.
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