Growing Fuzzy Kiwi: Plant a Couple and Stand Back
Boz is befuddled; he, like so many other kiwi aficionados, had no idea that this delicious fruiting vine grows well in a temperate climate. Yep, these fuzzy little puppies (Boz included) are not tropical in origin or range. Vashon Island, Washington is comfortably anchored in Zone 8a, where freezing temperatures occur regularly. The kiwi thrives here.
The above photo was taken in the winter, a good time to prune. Below you can see what happens if you don’t get around to it: the kiwi vine sets its sights on consuming a farmhouse.
My kiwi vines are so vigorous and meandering, that I fear a long nap under one would result in my entanglement. My two robust vines (you need a male and a female vine) reached the attic story of my two-story house and came crashing down in a winter storm last year. It needs to be pruned and trained on a trellis. (Item 623 on my to-do list.)
Boz would regret eating this kiwi now. Picked before the first frost, it is rock hard and sour. I store them in my cold pantry and let them ripen on the counter when needed. It’s February, and they are still ripening nicely at room temperature.
I harvested about 40 pounds of fuzzy kiwis this year. Had I trellised and properly pruned, the number would have been even higher.
An under-leaf view of immature kiwi in mid-July. The wilted leaves are a result of record-breaking heat that day.
In the fall, the leaves drop and I pick the kiwi. The photo above is from November before freezing temperatures prevailed.
Tips and what you should know about growing kiwis:
- Kiwis are dioecious; there is a female plant and a male plant. You need both for fruit production
- The vines are extremely vigorous.
- Minimal pest or disease problems
- Ripen best off the vine, pick anytime before a freeze
- Select a sunny site with good drainage
- Build a trellis system for best results, a very strong trellis (Do as I say not as I do.)
- Fruit grows on current season’s wood.
- Consider the Hardy kiwi which has smaller clustered fruit, is more manageable and enjoys (as its name suggests) greater cold hardiness
What I was blogging about a year ago: When Good Plumbing Goes Bad