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Hardy ('mini') Kiwi

Hardy kiwi is an appealing option in those places where the climate is too rough for real kiwi. Another plus: the foliage is robust and is persistent from early spring to late autumn. Hardy (mini) kiwi is also attractive for pergolas, covered alleys, for building a roof of leaves... and also as espalier fruit on facades. Ornamental kiwi may be an interesting alternative.

Hardy kiwi. Latin: actinidia arguta

Unripe mini-kiwi ('hardy kiwi')

Requirements / Sources of Supply

The hardy kiwi can grow even in a rough location in an altitude of around 600 metres, if the space is sunny or wind-protected. The soil in the location needs to be fresh and even damp, water the planter in case of dryness. One of the main German suppliers and specialists for hardy kiwis is Werner Merkel in Chemnitz; his varieties are availble at kiwiri.de.

Characteristics and Pruning

The hardy kiwi is a vine originating in Japan, China and Korea. It reliably yields fruit every year, is undemanding and easy to care for. The growth is not quite as fast as with real kiwi, with a growth height up to about 15 m. The shoots are smooth, brown-red with small hairs. The foliage lasts from April to November and the leaves are very healthy. Flowering is in June / July with yellow / white flowers that remain hidden under the leaves. Leave the small fruit hanging right until the first fruit for optimal ripening. The vitamin C content is very high, and the fruit can be ripened further in the refrigerator. The shoots need to be thinned out annually. Autumn leaves are a lovely yellow. The kiwi variety "Issai" is monoecious (see above). Due to the high frost resistance, even potting these plants is also possible. The habitus is very similar to the celastrus, especially to C. scandens. Celastrus, however, does not have such a pronounced club-shaped thickening of the twig under each petiole, and the leaf edges are not as sharp.

Climbing Support for Hardy Kiwi

There is a table at the bottom of the page with all suitable trellis designs for the hardy kiwi. Choose a trellis in the medium, or even better- heavy / massive ranges. The trunk should be trained just like a grapevine trunk would be. It's vital to guide the kiwi plant so that the main shoots and trunk won't wind around the trellis wires or lattices -- the exact procedure is described in more detail in the wisteria section. On a pergola, the individual wires should be 40 - 50 cm apart, but only every second cable will hold a branch: the other wires will hold the green shoots and leaves of the year. For facade or wall trellises, the plant is trained as described under "shaped trees." The main axes should be 35 - 40 cm apart. The kiwi shoots grow very quickly, so leave at least 1.5 metres distance between the trellis and downpipes or lightning rods!

Suitable wire rope trellises?

Click on the picture to see a list of suitable trellis designs.

Actinidia with autumn foliage late in autumn
Development of a mini/hardy kiwi on wire rope, medium range "classic"
Kiwi fruit - without summer pruning
Actinidia arguta - hardy kiwi
Mini-kiwi without summer pruning
Actinidia arguta on a facade
Mini (hardy) kiwi on wire rope
Facade greening with hardy kiwi on a wire rope trellis

Suitable wire rope trellises for mini (hardy) kiwi

Please click on the graphics to see a detailed view of each design!

 = suitable              = sometimes suitable              = not suitable