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Permaculture Plants: Kiwi

  • The Hardy Kiwi
    Common Name: Kiwi (kiwifruit)
    Scientific Name: Actinidia deliciosa, Actinidia arguta, and Actinidia kolomikta
    Family: Actinidiaceae
    Deciduous, woody, twining vine that produces small tropical tasting fruit.

    Native to southern China, cultivation spread to New Zealand in the early 1900’s where it was produced in large scale.  

    Comparing the common “fuzzy” kiwi (A. deliciosa) with the Hardy Kiwi (Actinidia arguta).
    The Hardy Kiwi has soft, smooth, edible skin.


    • Only the “fuzzy” kiwi (A. deliciosa) is tropical (zone 7).  The other two species (Actinidia arguta and Actinidia kolomikta) are known as Hardy Kiwi.  They are hardy to Zone 2!
    • Kiwi’s are dioecious, meaning the plant is either male or female
    • It was dubbed “Kiwifruit” after New Zealand’s national bird, the brown and furry kiwi.
    • Italy is the leading producer followed by New Zealand and Chili.
    • Kiwi is very high in Vitamin C.

    There are many, many types of Kiwi in the world!
    They are not all brown and fuzzy.

    Primary Uses:

    • Fresh eating
    • Fresh juice (usually mixed with other juices)
    • Drying pureed fruit into fruit “leather”

    Secondary Uses:

    • Drinkable sap (concentrated into a syrup?)
    • Seasonal Shade (thick cover of leaves in spring-fall; no leaves in winter)

    Yield: 5-10 gallons (20-40 liters) per female vine
    Harvesting: Harvest when ripe, in autumn
    Storage: Use fresh

    Male (left) and Female (right) Kiwi Flowers

    Zone: 2-7
    Plant Type: Vigorous, woody vine
    Leaf Type: Deciduous
    Forest Garden Use: Vine, climber
    Cultivars/Varieties: Over a dozen cultivars (male and females)


    • Kiwis are dioecious (male and female plants).
    • You need one male vine for up to eight females.
    • Some self-fertile cultivars exist

    Flowering: Late spring

    Life Span

    • Years to Begin Bearing: 3-8 years
    • Years to Maximum Bearing: 11-16 years
    • Years of Useful Life: 30 years

    Kiwi vine trellised to an arbor.

    Size: Vigorous vine that can grow to over 100 feet high into trees if allowed.
    Roots:  Heart-shaped (a number of main roots all spreading out and down)
    Growth Rate: Fast

    Beautiful foliage of this Hardy Kiwi: Arctic Beauty

    Light: Full Sun (preferable)
    Shade: Tolerates moderate shade
    Moisture: Medium
    pH: 5.1-8.5

    Special Considerations for Growing:

    • Tolerant of most garden conditions, but really needs well drained soils (mounds?)
    • Does not tolerate late spring frosts well – kiwis leaf out early and young shoots are not frost resistant
    • Cats are attracted to the chemicals in young leaves.

    Propagation: Layering or softwood cuttings.


    • Pruning annually to keep within a manageable size.
    • May need nitrogen and potassium to sustain heavy cropping
    • Disease/Pests: Few, but Japanese beetles are fond of Kiwi

    Concerns:  Can grow very fast and high if not controlled.

    Kiwi allowed to grow in a hedge.

    Hardy Kiwi

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