Caring For Kiwi: How To Grow Hardy Red Kiwi Fruit
By: Laura Miller
Do you like the taste of kiwi fruit, but aren’t crazy about the fuzz? The Hardy Red kiwi (Actinidia purpurea) produces grape sized, fuzz-less fruit with an authentic kiwi flavor. Unlike their fuzzy cousins, hardy kiwi can survive temperatures as low as -25 degrees F. (-32 C.). Plus, the attractive Hardy Red kiwi vine makes the perfect canopy crop for a veranda or pergola.
How to Grow Hardy Red Kiwi
Like all species of kiwi, Hardy Red requires both a male and female plant to produce fruit. These deciduous climbing vines can reach 30 feet (9 m.) and bear fruit on second year wood. A sturdy trellis or arbor is required to support the vines.
Hardy Red kiwi vine can be started from seed by sowing indoors in late spring. Although mature vines are winter-hardy, new growth can be damaged by frost. Keep seedlings well-ventilated to prevent damping off. When propagating by seed, gardeners should expect a higher ratio of male to female vines.
Fresh kiwi seeds can also be started in the fall. Germination rates with fresh seed are generally faster with sprouts appearing two to three months after sowing. A fall started vine requires overwintering inside a greenhouse. Seedlings can be transplanted into a permanent location after danger of frost in late spring or early summer.
Kiwis can be propagated from cuttings, which allows gardeners to obtain a higher ratio of female vines. Cuttings can be taken anytime during the growing season but starting semi-woody cuttings in July or August offers the most success.
Hardy Red kiwi fruit prefers a consistently moist soil with good drainage. Avoid planting the crowns where the soil remains soggy or becomes overly dry. A rich loam with plenty of sunlight is ideal for these perennial vines. Hardy Red can be grown in partial shade, but fruit yields will be lower.
Caring for this kiwi is not difficult, as Hardy Red has no reported disease or pest issues. It’s resistant to honey fungus and easily pollinated by bees and other insects.
Prune lightly in the winter to maintain shape and control vines. Heavy pruning can reduce fruiting the following season.
Hardy Red Kiwi Fruit
It takes three to four years for Hardy Red to begin producing, but it’s well worth the wait. The bite-sized fruit has a sweeter flavor than the larger species of kiwis. The red flesh contains small edible seeds, as do all kiwis, but the cranberry red skin is smooth and tender. No peeling is necessary with these kiwis, simply pop them in your mouth like grapes.
Hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, the female Hardy Red kiwi vine produces fragrant white flowers in May. The fruit ripens between September and October in most areas. Gardeners can expect to harvest 100 pounds (45 kg.) or more of delicious fruit once the vines have matured.
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Read more about Kiwi Plants
In some areas this fast-growing vine can become invasive, so check with your local extension office or garden center before you purchase some plants.
You may have some problems if you or your neighbors have cats. This plant smells like catnip and they may dig up the vines or otherwise destroy your plant.
Most varieties are either male or female and you will need at least one of each for fruit set on the female. 'Meader' and 'Arctic Beauty' are available in either form, so check whether it is listed as male or female when ordering. 'Issai' is a self-fruitful variety, meaning that it has a perfect flower and is able to pollinate itself. You can boost fruit yields from 'Issai' by adding a male variety.
- 'Ananasnaya' (also known as 'Anna')
- 'Arctic Beauty' (known as September Sun™)
- 'Ken's Red'
- 'Red Beauty'
Make sure you have enough room for at least two kiwi vines since you will need both male and female plants for successful pollination of this dioecious species. You could try growing 'Jenny,' which is a self-fertile cultivar.
This is an excellent plant to grow on a wooden structure such as a gazebo, trellis, pergola, arbor, or fence. You can also train it along wires to form an espalier along a wall. It will add color with its rich green leaves and the support will help the vines grow better.