Available in more than 50 varieties, the kiwi fruit (Actinidia spp.) Is native to South Asia and developed commercially in select states — including California, Oregon and Washington. A tender vine that damages readily when exposed to frost, the kiwi is a quick grower that, if not managed properly, can easily soften your backyard.
Once established and implanted in the proper conditions, a normal kiwi plant’s canes can develop 6 to 12 feet in a single season. It is not unheard of for a kiwi vine to achieve lengths of 20 feet in one year. If left unpruned, a single kiwi vine may reach a maximum length of around 40 feet.
The kiwi features woody vines reaching diameters of between 7 to 10 inches and alternating deciduous leaves that moderate 3 to 5 inches in length. The kiwi’s immature shoots and leaves are covered with thin reddish hairs that flip dark-green since they age. Dioecious, or blue, 5- to 6-petaled, fragrant flowers are originally white and turn a shade of yellow as the plant matures. The creamy, ovoid fruit reaches lengths of around 2 1/2 inches and features fuzzy-textured skin. The dense, woody vines are frequently used commercially in the creation of wreaths and decorative spheres.
If left unsupported, the growing kiwi’s vines will attach themselves to neighboring trees and light poles or anything else that provides construction. To avoid this, create a T-bar trellis system with 6-foot-tall supportive posts scattered 10 feet apart; 300-pound tension wire is then strung between the posts to offer a sturdy and wind-resistant structure for your growing vines. Since the vines grow across the wire, they’re loosely attached to keep them from breaking. The kiwi’s fruit is allowed to grow down between the wires for easier harvesting.
Kiwi plants are susceptible to cold, so bear this in mind when choosing a planting site. The plant thrives in well-drained land with a pH of between 5.5 and 7.0. Wind is another consideration, and also the University of California in Davis points out that delicate kiwi vines can break when exposed to winds between 5 and 15 mph. UC Davis recommends putting the kiwi near a windbreak, such as one produced by a row of trees.