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Planting kiwi & pruning kiwi

Feb 21, 2012 -
  Planting kiwi & pruning kiwi
Tricia plants a hardy kiwi vine, in a scene from our latest video. Tips here on how to prune that vine.

Not all kiwis are fuzzy. There’s your fun fruit fact for the day!

Hardy kiwi vines, like the Issai kiwi we carry, will produce smooth, not fuzzy, fruit in a range of climates in USDA zones 4-9. Issai is also a convenient vine since it is self-fruitful (meaning it produces both male and female flowers).

Want the familiar fuzz? Find those on our tender kiwi vines. Even the tender vines need some winter chill, so they do best in USDA zones 7-9. You’ll need at least one male and one female vine for pollination.

Planting kiwi

Watch Tricia plant kiwis in our new video and see her tips on growing this satisfying fruit.

Remember, the prime requirements for kiwis are good drainage and ample water. Pull any perennial weeds from the site. In our video about growing kiwis Tricia added a sprinkler to her drip irrigation system to give her vine the moist, but not waterlogged, soil it needs for good root growth. Water is key for kiwis to bear their heavy crops.

Even though the Issai vines are winter hardy while dormant, in their youth those vines can be winter killed. In the wintertime it’s a good idea to wrap the trunk of the hardy kiwi vine while it is 1 - 4 years old.

Kiwi vines will cooperate with a number of trellising styles. You can plant them at the corners of a large arbor, train them along trellises, or grow them espalier style along fences. Choose your support system and install it before you plant the kiwi vines. The hardy kiwi vines we carry are moderately vigorous and will grow about 6’ - 12’ a year, much less than their fuzzy cousins that can grow as much as 30’ in a year.

Training & pruning kiwi vines on a t-bar trellis

Kiwi T-Bar Trellis

All kiwi vines need strong support since they can produce 50 - 100 pounds of fruit each year! Our video shows you examples of trellis systems. The Oregon State University Extension has more details on exact measurements for trellises.

Espalier Kiwi Diagram

Training & pruning kiwi vines espalier style

If you prefer to grow in a flat, espalier style, train and prune kiwis along horizontally spaced wires with lateral canes growing upright along the horizontal branches (called cordons).

Here are tips for that growing style (known as the bilateral cordon system):

*  Your first job is to help the vine develop one, straight trunk by tying it loosely to a stake as it grows. This is the major growth of the first year. If side branches reach the level of the first wire supports, you can leap ahead and begin the training that usually occurs in the second season.

*  The second season of growth is when you want to encourage two arms (or cordons) on opposite sides of the vine. When you have two good shoots reach the first level of wire, drape one in each direction on top of the wire and tie them loosely.

* Allow new shoots to grow from the cordons, and train them toward upper wires, being careful not to let them wrap around the wires.

* Prune these cordons and the lateral canes in the dormant season back to wood that is 1/4” or larger in diameter.

*  In the third season train the lateral shoots perpendicular to the cordons. You do not want them to be parallel to the cordons because they would block the sunlight.

* Do your dormant pruning in the third season to leave 15 - 20 lateral canes across the cordons of the vine. The kiwi fruit will grow on the canes from the previous year.

*  By the fourth year your kiwi vine structure will be in place.

Dormant pruning for mature kiwi vines

When the kiwi vines reach their fourth year the dormant pruning (in winter) will be a regular process of renewing fruiting canes. The pruning becomes more complicated in a mature vine and is well explained by the the Oregon State University Extension article. If you grow muscadine grapes, you will note that the technique for pruning kiwi vines is the same.

For more information consult our Kiwi Planting & Growing Guide, and see Oregon State’s thorough article on growing kiwis.

Categories: Kiwi Vine, Grape Vines, Wine Grape Vine, Table Grape Vine

Pat Says:
Feb 25th, 2012 at 8:47 am

How much sunlight is required?
Do I need a male & female plant?
I have had a vine planted for seven years now.
The vine has grown well but no fruit! Not a one.

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Jan 28th, 2013 at 1:41 am

Pat, Kiwis like full sun. You do not need a male and female with Issai Hardy Kiwi because it is self-fruitful. See our Kiwi Growing Guide for more information Lack of fruit probably means lack of phosphorus. Get a soil test near the kiwi vine to see if you need any organic supplements This article from Oregon State is full of valuable information about growing kiwis

Deb Says:
Apr 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

If I have a Issai Hardy Kiwi, will the male flower

Stephanie Brown Says:
Apr 25th, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Hello Deb,

Your comment went in the name box and you got cut off. Are you wondering if hardy kiwis pollinate female fuzzy kiwis? The answer is yes, as long as the bloom times overlap.

Cory from San Diego Says:
May 12th, 2014 at 11:10 am

Hi Charlotte,

How for apart should the posts be? I’ll be planting a female and male side-by-side along a wood fence, while keeping airspace between the vine and the fence. The vine will be east facing behind raised veggie beds and will get sun from noon until the sun is on the other side of the fence.All suggestions are welcome!

Stephanie Brown Says:
May 13th, 2014 at 8:52 am

Hello Cory,

It depends on how you choose to prune the vines. If you espalier the vines then I would leave two feet or so from the fence and the trellis, enough for you to walk behind and prune or pick fruit.

Staci Rall's Says:
Jun 25th, 2014 at 3:29 pm

How deep do I plant them

Stephanie Brown Says:
Jun 30th, 2014 at 9:20 am

Hello Staci,

Look for the soil line on the plant and plant it to the same level.

Audrone in Ohio Says:
Jan 6th, 2015 at 6:29 am

I’d like to optimize the edible output from my modest-sized urban garden.  Can a large pergola be planted with both a grape vine and a hardy kiwi vine, or will they compete too much with each other?

Suzanne at Peaceful Valley Says:
Jan 9th, 2015 at 2:16 pm

I am afraid that they would compete with each other. Kiwis are very prolific growers and may choke out the grapes and even if the grape survives, the clusters benefit from the sun, and they would get shaded out.

Coleen Says:
Nov 14th, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Do the vines have thorns or have any sharp pointy things?

Suzanne at Peaceful Valley Says:
Nov 18th, 2015 at 1:32 pm

The kiwis that we sell do not have thorns. They are a great plant to have in your edible landscape!

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