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What is a Kiwi Vine?

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  • Written By: M. Haskins
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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Kiwi vine most commonly refers to the plant Actinidia kolomikta, sometimes called Kolomikta vine, hardy kiwi or variegated actinidia. It is a climbing, woody vine that can grow 8-20 feet (2.4-6 m) tall, and is native to eastern Russia, Southeast Asia, China and Japan. The kiwi vine is deciduous, shedding its leaves seasonally and also doecious, meaning that individual plants are either female or male. It is related to the species Actinidia deliciosa, the plant that produces the kiwi fruit widely available in stores. The kiwi vine is usually grown in northern, temperate regions as a garden plant or for its fruit that is similar to real kiwi fruit, though the fruit of this vine is smaller and lacks the fuzzy skin.

Many gardeners grow kiwi vine for its striking foliage. The leaves are elongated heart-shapes that can vary in color. Female plants usually have dark-green leaves, but the leaves of the male plants are often variegated, with two or more different colors on each leaf, including white, pink, red and purple. Male specimens of the common cultivar Arctic Beauty Kiwi have leaves that start out purple, later changing to pink and white.

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This plant is often used as an ornamental climber to cover trellises, arbors or lattices but it is not self-clinging and needs to be fastened to whatever structure is used for support. Its flowers are small, white and fragrant and attract butterflies and birds. The kiwi vine's edible fruits are green and grape-sized with soft, smooth skin and, in some countries like Poland and Russia, the plant is grown specifically for its fruit. Both male and female plants are required for successful pollination and fruit production, and to make this easier a male plant is sometimes grafted onto a female plant.

Kiwi vine grows best in fertile, well-drained soil and full sun. It needs regular watering and can tolerate partial shade, but the leaves will be more colorful in full sun. The plant can live for up to ten years and is very hardy, able to tolerate temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 C).

Kiwi vine is commonly propagated by cuttings or grafting, but can also be grown from seed. Seeds can be collected from ripe fruit but in order to germinate they need to be cleaned thoroughly of all pulp and then subjected to a period of cold temperatures before planting. This plant is somewhat susceptible to various kinds of fungal diseases and can also be in danger from cats, as they are attracted by its catnip-like scent.

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irontoenail
Post 3

@Iluviaporos - I think there are a couple of varieties that will self pollinate though, they just don't produce as much as the commercial varieties.

I'd like to grow my own just because I think it would be interesting to try and make kiwi juice and kiwi wine, but I don't think I have enough of a backyard to grow any fruit trees, let alone kiwi vines.

lluviaporos
Post 2

@Fa5t3r - Most people aren't going to be able to grow kiwi because you need at least two vines (one male and one female) in order to do so and the vines are quite large.

Personally, I'd use the space for something else. But, if you are determined, you might be able to make an arrangement with your neighbors so that one of you has a male vine for several females in other backyards. But even then, they are a pain because bees don't like them much and you pretty much have to pollinate by hand.

You also have to be careful as kiwi vines are susceptible to certain fungal infections and if they catch that they will completely die away.

So, yeah, they aren't the easiest fruit to grow, and I think the average person is better off planting something else and getting their kiwi from the supermarket.

Fa5t3r
Post 1

If you can find yellow varieties, they might be a better kind to grow than the green ones. They tend to be a bit milder and sweeter, and have a smooth skin rather than the hairy skin of the green kiwi.

I've also heard the yellow varieties have more vitamins, but I don't know if that's true or not. I do know that they don't keep as long, which is why you don't get them as often in the shops, but that wouldn't matter if you were growing them yourself.

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