Caring for kiwis — with our tips for delicious fruits

Harvest time: October to November

Special features: Due to the self-sterility, it is necessary to plant a male and a female kiwi for most species, because only the female plants bear fruit, but male plants are necessary as pollinators. There are also self-pollinating species. Most kiwi plants only bear fruit after 3 to 5 years with a significant yield. In the right location, a female plant can carry up to 70 kg of fruit.

Kiwi plants are woody shrubs with a twining, liana-like growth habit. The fruits are aromatic and delicious. With the right knowledge, the fruit can be harvested in your own garden, especially in the wine-growing climate. In addition to the classic varieties that require male and female plants for fruit set, self-pollinating kiwi plants are a good option for the home garden. All varieties thrive in sheltered, warm locations and thank you with lush growth and rich yields. The Chinese gooseberry originated in China. From there it was introduced to New Zealand around 1900 and given the name kiwi in reference to the native kiwi bird. However, it is often assumed that kiwis originally come from New Zealand. As a member of the ray pen family, the plant has impressive flowers, powerful growth and the female plants also have great fruit. Discover more fruits in our online plant shop.

In which location does the kiwi plant feel most comfortable?

A wind-protected spot in a south-facing position in the garden is ideal for the climbing plants. Trellises and pergolas are suitable as climbing aids and make care much easier. It is good for the fruit to ripen in autumn if the kiwi plant still benefits from the heat radiated from house walls and walls. Soil preparation is important, because the enormous mass of leaves evaporates a lot of water in summer. Light sandy soils are unsuitable because there is not enough moisture available. Furthermore, kiwi plants are sensitive to lime, so it is important to prepare the soil before planting. Only the group of mini kiwi is suitable for planting in the pot. At least 30 to 50 liters of soil volume should be available per plant.

Female Kiwi Flower:

How to properly plant the Chinese gooseberry?

Planting before sprouting in spring is ideal. This allows the kiwi tree to establish itself in the new place and take root before new shoots are formed. Plant the shrubs by late summer to ensure they are rooted into winter. Light soils must be provided with sufficient humus before planting. A high-quality potting soil is suitable for this. Improve heavy soils that tend to compact with a mixture of sand and rhododendron soil. The pH value should be below 6, because the slightly acidic environment of 5 to 6 is ideal for fruit trees. By adding peat soil you create the best conditions and give the plant a good start. Before planting, loosen the soil thoroughly and carefully remove all root weeds. The planting hole should be twice the size of the culture pot. Insert the well-watered kiwi plant and fill the space between the planting hole and the roots with a mixture of growing medium and topsoil. Finally, 5 to 10 liters of water are poured on and, if necessary, a layer of mulch is applied to prevent evaporation. You can buy the right potting soil from us.

Our gardening tip: Do not plant the climbing plants too densely, because kiwis are lush plants in the right place. Planting distances of 1 to 2 m are ideal.

How do I properly care for my kiwi plant?

In addition to pruning, even soil moisture and sufficient nutrients are important for kiwis. In early spring, add a mulch layer of mature compost or mulch around the plant to prevent the soil from drying out quickly. Furthermore, the pH value is positively influenced and nutrients are slowly available. In addition, you can fertilize with organic garden fertilizer or berry fertilizer in spring. The vegetable organic garden fertilizer has a humus-forming effect and sustainably promotes soil activity.

Our gardening tip: Kiwi plants have a moderate to low fertilizer requirement and are sensitive to excessive salt concentrations. Organic fertilizer is well suited. Do not fertilize with mineral fertilizers.

How do I water my kiwi plant properly?

The fruit plants need an even soil moisture. In the first few weeks after planting, it is important that you water as needed. Once the plant has established itself at the site and the soil is rich in humus, the effort for additional watering is reduced. How often you have to water depends largely on the precipitation, the location and the insolation. In phases without significant rainfall, watering 10 to 20 liters per plant 1 to 2 times a week may be necessary. It is important that there should never be standing water. If kiwi plants are close to the house wall, it may be that the rain is not sufficient and additional watering is necessary continuously. At the latest when the large leaves are limp, you should water them additionally.

Our gardening tip: Even soil moisture is important, especially after flowering. If there is extreme drought now, fruit drop can occur.

How do I prune my kiwi plant properly?

As with most fruit, pruning is essential for a bountiful harvest. Kiwi plants are cut at two times:

February/March (winter cut)

Pruning the creeper in late winter/spring serves to limit the height and width, to maintain vitality and to rejuvenate the fruit wood. Above all, last year’s fruit shoots are removed and the plant is thinned out. Once the shoots have been harvested, they will no longer form new flowers the next year. It is important not to cut too late, because kiwi trees ‘bleed’ a lot.

July/August (summer cut)

The fast-growing plant is limited in length growth and fruit ripening is promoted. With this care measure, also known as green cuttings, one-year-old shoots in particular are shortened. It is important that the kiwi fruit is still sufficiently shaded by the foliage.

Our gardening tip: In the first 3 years, young kiwis only need to be pruned a little. In the first spring, the main shoot is cut, thus promoting the branching of the kiwi plants. After the second year, the side shoots are cut. From the third year, it must be regularly thinned out. Basically, when cutting, you can cut back to four to six leaves.

How do I overwinter my kiwi plant?

The large-fruited species are hardy in mild climates; winter protection with fleece or reed mats is recommended in rough locations. Planted in the garden, it is advisable to protect the roots of young kiwi plants with leaves, brushwood or mulch. Binding the plants with sacking also helps prevent frost damage.

The small-fruited mini kiwi and ornamental kiwi are very hardy.

The kiwi as a container plant is overwintered in a frost-free room.

What types of kiwi are there?

Kiwi plants form a separate plant family. Some of the genera of the Actinidia group have decorative leaves and serve as ornamental trees. Fruiting kiwis are mainly Actinidia chinensis/delicicosa and Actinidia arguta, each with different varieties.

Actinidia chinensis / Actinidia delicicosa

Botanically they are two different species, but commercially they are often seen as a group. Actinidia chinensis is a vigorous climbing shrub that is widespread. Without pruning, the tendrils can grow up to 10 m high. Only plants grown in culture are called Actinidia delicicosa. Of these kiwis there are male and female plants and varieties that are self-pollinating. Breeding has resulted in varieties such as ‘Solo’ or ‘Jenny’, which do not require a male kiwi plant for pollination. However, if male plants are nearby, the fruit size and yield will be positively influenced. Well-known varieties are Hayward with female flowers and later large fruits and Tomuri as a pollinator variety,

Actinidia arguta (sharp-toothed ray-pen)

With significantly smaller fruit, this genus is referred to as mini kiwi, small-fruited kiwi, grape kiwi, kiwiberry, or honeyberry. Mini kiwis are interesting where the climate is too unfavorable for the traditional form. Actinidia arguta is hardy. It can also be grown in large containers. When choosing a suitable vessel, pay attention to the variety. With a height of approx. 2 m, Issai is ideal as a container plant. Mini kiwis already set fruit well in the 2nd to 3rd year of growth. Furthermore, the foliage is extremely robust and decorative until well into autumn, when a golden-yellow leaf color is another highlight. It is important that here, too, an annual clearing cut must take place in the spring. The small fruits are left on the plant until autumn. This promotes ripeness and improves the vitamin content. Once the fruit starts to soften, it’s time to pick. Depending on the variety, the harvest takes place from September to mid/late October. In a light and cool room, the mini kiwi can be stored for a few weeks. The gooseberry-like, smooth-skinned fruits can be eaten with the peel. Again, there are male and female plants and varieties like Issai that are self-fertile. Another Arguta selection is Weiki®, which survives even very severe winters unscathed and is also known as the Bavarian Kiwi. It also needs a pollinator variety. The range of kiwi varieties is constantly growing. New varieties with red fruits or improved winter hardiness enrich the range. It is very attractive to see the organic fruits growing in your own garden.

Special feature: With its reddish-purple fruit, the Purpurna Sadowa variety is an alternative to green kiwis. It grows up to 6 m and has fragrant flowers. The fruits ripen from September to October and can be eaten fresh as a snack or used in cakes, compotes and jams. It is hardy and tastes aromatic. Furthermore, ‘Red Jumbo’ is a new red-fruited variety.

Ornamental kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta)

The plant, also known as pink ray pen, shines with special foliage. The decorative tree is easy to care for, grows slightly twining and is suitable for greening fences and as a privacy screen. Especially in sunny locations and in older plants, the leaf coloring is colorful and diverse. Similar to the mini kiwi, small berries with a smooth skin can also be harvested here. However, these usually play a subordinate role, since the ornamental kiwi acts as a climbing plant.

What pests and diseases can the kiwi get?

Kiwi trees are hardy and not particularly susceptible to pests and diseases. Dry and brown leaves are usually a result of lack of water. Mini kiwis can be infested with spider mites in dry locations.

FAQ — Frequently asked questions about the kiwi plant

Why is the kiwi tree not bearing fruit?

First of all, it is necessary to ensure that there are two different plants planted in the garden or it is a kiwi plant that is self-pollinating. If you only have one female kiwi plant, fruit will never hang. You will not have any yield on young plants in the first few years. You will harvest the first fruits after 3 to 5 years, the first yield on a larger scale can be expected in the next 2 to 3 years. Too much pruning can also be responsible for the lack of fruit.

Are 2 plants always necessary when growing a kiwi?

Provided it is not a self-pollinating variety, it is imperative that one male is planted for each female variety. Male flowers are necessary for pollination. The ratio of male to female kiwis can be 1:6.

How do you tell the difference between male and female kiwifruit?

The plants can only be distinguished by their flowers. The male flowers only have yellow stamens in the middle, while the female flowers also have a white style, which also has stamens around it. A determination of the sex is only possible during the flowering period.

When are kiwis harvested?

Depending on the variety and location, the smooth-skinned mini kiwis are ripe from mid-September. The small fruits change color from green to yellow or reddish (depending on the variety). It is best if you cut off the fruit with the stalk. Mini kiwis can be eaten directly or processed. Storage is also possible.

Large-fruited kiwis are left on the tree for as long as possible so that they develop their full flavor and ripen well. The harvest of the still hard fruits begins at the end of October. At a storage temperature of 12 to 14 °C, the fruits are ready to eat after a month. The flesh is now soft and the taste is characteristically sweet and sour and refreshing.

How are kiwis propagated?

In order to have varietal plants, propagation by cuttings is the safest method of propagation. The head cuttings cut in the spring have new roots after 6 to 8 weeks and the young kiwi plants can be placed outdoors after they have hardened. Certain varieties are protected under commercial property law and may therefore not be propagated. Propagation by seeds is very difficult. In addition, the seedling does not reveal the sex of the plant.

Why is growing kiwis interesting?

In addition to being used as a climbing plant, it is fascinating to grow the sweet and tart fruit yourself in the garden. Freshly harvested and without a transport route, you can store the green fruits for a long time. Fresh kiwis are rich in vitamin C and also contain vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium and magnesium. The vitamin C content exceeds that of citrus fruits. The berry harvest in the garden is mostly over in late summer and with kiwis you can still enjoy fresh fruit until mid-October.

Kiwi Jam Recipe
Here you can find the delicious recipe and learn how to use kiwis. Our instructions are ideal for copying. Enjoy your meal!

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