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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: actinide arguta

Also known as 'arctic kiwi,' 'baby kiwi,' 'kiwi berry,' 'dessert kiwi,' 'cocktail kiwi,' 'northern kiwi,' 'grape kiwi'...

Unripe mini-kiwi ('hardy kiwi')
Unripe mini-kiwi ('hardy kiwi')

Requirements / Sources of Supply

The hardy kiwi can grow even in rough locations and even at altitudes of 600 metres if the space is sunny and wind-protected. It needs fresh and even damp soil; water regularly but avoid standing water. 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, and was brought to Europe via New Zealand around 1050. It reliably yields fruit every year, is undemanding and easy to care for. Fast growth, though not quite as fast as with real kiwi, with a growth height up to about 15-20 m. The shoots are smooth, rust-red, with small hairs. The foliage lasts from April to November and the leaves are very healthy. Flowering begins in late May with yellow-white blooms that remain mostly hidden under the leaves. For optimal ripening, leave the small fruit hanging right until the first fruit. The vitamin C content is very high, and once picked, the fruit can be left to further ripen (keeping them near apples in the refrigerator will help them ripen faster). The shoots need to be thinned out annually. Autumn leaves are a lovely yellow. Usually dioecious, so fruits only form when male and female plants stand together. The male plant may remain small on the trellis or stand next to it as a bush.The kiwi variety "Issai" is monoecious (self-fertile) but with smaller fruit. Due to the high frost resistance, even potting these plants is also possible. If not properly pruned or shaped, structural damage similar to wisteria can occur. In leaf and habitus, remarkably similar to celastrus (bittersweet), especially to C. scandens. Celastrus, however, does not have such a pronounced club-shaped thickening of the twig under each petiole, and the leaves are leaves are not as large.

Climbing Supports for the Facade

The table at the bottom of this page shows all trellis (wire rope) designs that are compatible with 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, as the danger of structural damage is similar. 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 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.

Actinida argot late in autumn
Development of a mini kiwi on wire rope, medium range "classic"
Kiwi berry - 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

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