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Anyone Growing Hardy Kiwi

August 8, 2013

I noticed at one of our parking lot nurseries that they are selling female and male hardy kiwi vines. Is anyone growing hardy kiwi? I would greatly appreciate hearing about your experience.

Based on initial web browsing, I know that you need both a male and female vine. (1) male can pollinate several female vines. The male vine leaves are much more attractive in color display. The fruits will not be the fuzzy, brown kiwi skinned that you buy in the grocery store but rather a thin green skinned that does not require removal before consumption. The northern hardy varieties have smaller fruit size. Also mentioned is that cats seem to be attracted to these vines and will munch on them.

I have a chain-link dog kennel/fence that I could grow these vines on. It would provide a nice canvas to the fencing and the future fruit would be an added bonus.

Comments (32)
  • jean001a

    Info from U of Minn

    Here is a link that might be useful: kiwi in MN

  • steve_in_los_osos

    There are two types of "hardy" kiwi with the small, no-fuzz fruit. Actinidia arguta is the less hardy of the two, often found in higher-end grocery stores as "baby kiwi". Fruit is typically the size of large grapes, maybe a bit bigger. The leaves of the male and female vines are essentially the same.

    The most cold-hardy kiwis are actinidia kolomikta ("arctic kiwi"). The fruit is generally a bit smaller than the argutas and the vines "somewhat" less vigorous. This is the species in which males sometimes have vividly colored leaves. The leaves of a mature "Arctic Beauty" are splashed with pink and white as well as green.

    Kolomiktas are more precocious than argutas, are more appreciative of some shade, but are sometimes a little difficult to get going. Young plants of either species can be a bit fragile.

    Many people report better success growing out smaller plants for a season in 5 gal pots before planting in the ground (assuming your climate allows).

  • canadianplant

    I am trying to grow both: Kolkomitka (arctic beauty) and arguta (issai). I am also im same/difference climate as you.

    Issai dies down to the snow line here, but it is fully exposed. In a sheltered spot, it may be different. The laterals are only 6 inches abve the soil, yet I still have 3 small fruits.... I will say it seems to do better in some shade. Im thinking like clematis (shade and deep mulch on the bottom bit). it is self fruitfull.

    Kolkomitka is planted in a sheltered location and has been semi shaded. While the issai died down, but has subsequently regrown better, the arctic beauty seems to not have grown much. I have read that hardy kiwis are similar in growth (and care) to grapes, so I am not too worried. The arctic beauty also had minimal dieback. No fruit or flowers this year. I dont know the sex either.

    Now that I know a bit better, I am mulching them a bit better this winter, as well as wrapping this years growth on the issai. Issai seems to be the better grower here, but in the long run, i think the arctic beauty is the hardiest.

  • northwoodswis4

    I have several kolomikta kiwi vines that are actually setting some fruit this year. One gets shade all afternoon, but doesn't seem to mind. Another is in full sun and is also happy. I am eager to find out what they taste like.

  • bob_z6

    I planted Ken's Red, Issai, Geneva, and Fortyniner in 2011 and added Cordifolia last year. This summer I've added Jumbo, Rossana, and Chico with a new trellis/arbor (I'll start another thread on this).

    So far I haven't been able to sample any, though Issai has set a few fruit the first two years (something got them before me...). This year, there is more Issai, so I may get to try it. The Ken's Red and Geneva also had a few blooms, though there was only one male flower, I don't think either had any fruit set.

  • Charlie

    I have two female and one male "Artic" kiwi vines that I planted about 10 years ago in N. VA, but had to move them to a better location four years ago, thus delaying their fruit production. I support then on three "T" trellis made from 4X4 posts and 2X6 cross pieces that I doubled. I connected the cross pieces together with 12 gage wire (like a cloths line) and the vines run along the wires. I got my first blooms this year but no fruit; hoping for next year.

  • northwoodswis4

    People unfamiliar with fruit-growing think you just dig a hole and plant the item, maybe throw on a little fertilizer, then wait for free fruit. What they don't know about all the contraptions and hardware that we die-hards must invest in! Northwoodswis

  • alan haigh

    I've planted both arguta and kolomitka. Cut down the kolomitkas because they leaf out earlier here and are more susceptible to frost damage.

    After 25 years I'm about ready to cut down my argutas as well. They haven't been reliably productive- none of my native pollinators care for their blossoms and their fruit no longer thrills me in any case- not really very useful. Too much pruning to keep them in line.

  • grow_darnit

    I grow 5 Actinidia kolomikta plants: 3 females ( September Sun, Viktor , and Krupnoplodnaya) and 2 males. One of the males was sold at the local Menards as female Krupnoplodnaya. It took two years to flower and when it did I realized I didn't have Krupnoplodnaya after all. So I ordered one from One Green World. Mine are in shade all day with some dappled shade from time to time. This year I see some nice growth and about a dozen fruit. I didn't have any problem with them sprouting early probably because they are in a shady spot till last year. Last year we had a freaky warm spell in January and I lost all flowers and new growth on all my actinidias, that started sprouting too early, but then I also lost a peach tree and had almost no fruit on other fruit trees because of that thaw.
    I would love to add more plants, especially varieties bred by Bob Guthrie at the U of M (see the link) - shade is something I have a lot of and I am always happy when I can find plants that can thrive in it.
    What varieties did you see for sale and where? I live not too far from the Twin Cities and would love to buy a couple more Actinidias of different varieties.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Growing kiwi in MN

  • canadianplant

    HM is there anything you HAVNT tried? :D

    Growdarnit - I was surprised to learn how much shade they like - at least the lower part of the vine. I guess one could assume that the plants arent as domesticated as our grape vines, which means they are more or less used to the semi shaded forest. Again, my arguta "issai" looked horrible until I put a big potted palm in front. I will say that young plants dont like sun too much, but on the other hand they produce better in sun. They see to need a bit more work then people assume.

    I really hope the issai fruits, then I may be able to propagate more vines from seed and see how they do. IMO the vines are nice without fruit. I had no problems with pollinators going for them as well. Then again, it flowered in july which is odd in itself...

  • Charlie

    Here are some pictures of my hardy kiwis on a three post trellis and my fuzzy kiwis which are in their first year and will cover my pergola over part of my patio.

  • Charlie

    Hardy kiwis on trellis

  • alan haigh

    canadianpl. when I first got my property I had been gardening other peoples land to suit their needs for decades and had a lot of pent up desire to try everything that fruits in my climate. Like a lot of people starting off their orchards, I was intrigued by anything unusual, often things that I hadn't even tasted.

    I tended to really like many of these unusual fruits at first but as they became more common to my palate they usually began to lose their charm over time. Because I live in an area where I can grow a wide range of species, and because I can devote a lot of time to growing them, I can be pretty selective.

    I now believe if a fruit is easy to grow and not very popular there is probably a good reason.

  • bob_z6


    What is it about the kiwi (aside from the constant pruning) which has become old? I've tried them a few times from the grocery store (it occasionally makes an appearance at Whole Foods- I haven't seen it in any normal stores) and it was pretty tasty. A good mix of sweet tart, with large enough berries to be a small mouthful.

    Have you been picking them green to keep them (1-2 months, I've read) or vine ripe (20%+ brix, I've read)?


    You don't need seeds to start more vines. Cuttings work pretty well. Here's a pic of my cuttings. It seems to work about half the time, so make several times more cuttings than you need.

  • canadianplant

    Charlie thats a really nice patio and trellis.

    HM - I know what you mean about trying "new" or interesting plants. Well, more like growing anything that many people think cant grow here....

    Bob - I am probably going to do both. I would just like to see what I get from seed, if anything. Diversity never hurts!

  • cousinfloyd

    I'm surprised there aren't more hardy kiwi lovers on this forum. I've only been able to eat them on one occasion so far (from vines that had gone wild and grown up into neglected apple trees in a former commercial orchard), but I remember them as quite possibly the most delicious fruit I ever ate in my life. Likewise when I visited the nursery Edible Landscaping, where they have a demonstration orchard with most everything they sell, I asked one of the employees that had worked there for a number of years what his favorite fruit was of all the things they sold and he unhesitatingly said the hardy kiwis. I also know a man that bought a farm (in very high elevation North Carolina) where hardy kiwis had been planted by the previous owner, and he thinks they're simply wonderful. Perhaps some people are harvesting them too soon as Bob questioned, but it seems like there might be other factors that make the fruit grown in some places taste better than that grown in others.
    I have also heard several stories like Lucky's of vines that never or hardly ever produced. It seems that pollination is tricky with hardy kiwis.

  • alan haigh

    Bob, I enjoy a few, might even pick a bowl or two, but I grow many varieties of fruit that seem to attract me more. If I could get consistent cropping I might like them more but I'm sure not going to hand pollinate them to try to make that happen.

    The native pollinators just don't like kiwi blossoms and I assume that is why they are such poor croppers for me. I certainly get ample bloom and enjoy the fragrant and delicate flowers. Too bad my buzzm buddies don't.

    The only reason I haven't cut them out yet is because they do a very nice job of obscuring two telephone poles on my property. Now I'm thinking I'll replace them with grapes because several people have suggested my property reminds them of a N. CA vineyard. The grapes will probably be consumed by birds but at least they are a tad less vigorous. They might distract the birds from my late E. plums.

  • ForeverRecycleReuse

    Purchased (2) Anna Kiwi [Actinidia agruta 'Anansnaya'] and (2) Meader Male Kiwi [Actinida arguta 'Meader Male']. I will grow them in a container for the first year and then plant them out next Spring when I have the fencing area set up. Figured it will be easier on the plants to be transplanted from a larger container to ground rather than planting in the ground and digging it back up the next season which I would assume would cause greater root damage. It may not be the ideal arrangement but I am not sure if my area will have hardy kiwi plants next year as this is the first time I have seen them. The store does offer a 1 year guarantee but I sure would like to see these vines grow with vigor.

  • milehighgirl

    I have only had experience with kolomikta so this may not apply. I keep killing mine off because I don't have the fence up that I want to trellis them on. I've come to believe that they really need cool roots. I would suggest that you not put them in black pots. I actually have decided to spray paint my pots a lighter color so they reflect more light. Every time I have planted some of one kind of plant in-ground and some potted, the in-ground ones do much better.

  • bob_z6

    For the most part, I agree that in-ground plants have done better than potted. One exception for me was the Carmine Jewel bush cherry. I planted two in-ground and 1 in a pot in the spring of 2011. The potted one has grown well and actually fruited this year (2 cherries). One of the in-ground plants died this spring and the other is still quite small.

    I wouldn't discount the possibility that I just don't have growing potted plants perfected yet. You have more control of everything with them, so it is easier to mess up (bad mix, not enough or too much water, not enough/too much fertilizer, etc). Maybe I just got lucky had exactly met the needs of that Carmine Jewel.

  • canadianplant

    MHG - The more and more I read, the more people suggest deep mulch and shade for the bottom part of the vine.

    Bob - I think that potted/in ground can depend. A buddy in NC cannot grow tomatos in the ground, or pole beans, yet in pots they took over. Then again, NC has some of the worst soil in the US.

    As for the carmine jewel. They were bread in saskatchewan, and any people are questioning how well they will do in zone 6 and above. Even worse, many US nurseries are apparenly grafting "Evans" and other sask cherries to mazzard rootstock. These are meant to be own root plants. The only advantage I can see, is that mazzard may let then grow slightly futher south, but you loose the great characteristic of the trees - Thei hardiness, their own root/disease resistance and the natural semi dwarf size ( 6 - 10 feet)

  • Charlie

    canadianplant - How does the carmine jewel compare to Hansen cherries? I planted two hansen cherry bushes in the spring and they have grown well so far. My guess is that hansen cherries have a lower pit to flesh ratio.

  • ForeverRecycleReuse

    I potted them in a 'terra cotta' colored containers and mulched about 2 inches deep and will keep them in filtered sun/partial shade. Used a quality potting mix with slow release fertilizer. Containers have good drainage holes so over-watering should not be an issue and they will get watered when all the other plants get a drink.

    If they start to show stress, I may plant in the ground but there is a chance that I would need to dig them back up and move them next Spring. Wondering how stressful that would be on the plants vs. babying them in the containers and hoping for the best outcome.

    During the winter, I will need to store the containers/Kiwi plants in our unheated garage and will throw a handful of snow on them once a month for moisture. This will allow the plants some protections from our brutual winter but also give them the required chill time and allow the plants to go dormant.

  • canadianplant

    Charlie - I am not familiar with hansen cherries. IF you do a google of u of sask cherries, there are numerous publications and other bits of resources which may say something.

  • northwoodswis4

    I planted some Hansen bush cherries years ago for a hedge that I hoped would at least give me a little jelly. When the survivors finally got some fruit, I thought, "You've got to be kidding!" They were just large seeds with skin on them--not any flesh whatsoever. Maybe the nursery sent me the wrong thing by mistake, but there wasn't anything there to eat at all. Northwoodswis

  • tyler_j

    I grow both arguta and kolomitka kiwi... (plus some delisiosa and chinensis in a greenhouse)

    My biggest challenge here in Ontario is the frost. Even in a perfect winter/spring where we don't have a warm spell in march or april... getting the new growth through the month of May without getting zapped from frost (which wipes out that years fruit blossoms if bad enough) is a challenge. Sprinklers work good but I can't get coverage on all the vines.

  • mdo003

    only hardy kiwi I tried to grow was issai, started off slow then I figured out I needed to shade it some instead of leaving it in full sun and it took off. but then It died over winter. ive tried growing a couple arctic kolomitka varieties (which are different and I think harder to grow than regular hardy arguta varieties like anna), I lost several and I got a few fruit off a krupnopladnaya. I wasn't overly impressed for all the trouble I went through, I preferred the sourness of the regular fuzzy kiwis. if you've ever found gold kiwis at the store that's kind of what the arctics taste like, just kind of sweet and bland

  • glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

    Kiwis do well for me here. I have a lot of different varieties of kolomikta and arguta. Every year the kolomikats get a little frost but are still always loaded. My main male arguta died to the ground 2 years ago ( I damaged the trunk in early fall) and yet one of my arguta females(jumbo) has set a bunch of fruit!
    They have no disease or bug issues, only rodents and raccoons which are easily taken care of :) .My kids love them, mommy and daddy love them....well worth it :)

  • glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

    Here is one of my kolomikta krumpnpladnaya

  • TxGreenthumb88

    Wow Glenn thats glorious! Which varieties do best for you?

  • glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

    I seem to be in a bit of a "goldilocks" zone for the kolomiktas .They ripen August through to now, where as the argutas are mostly still rock hard.

  • giorgi

    Hello. iwant to buy red kiwi seeds. can anyone help me?

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