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Kiwi

Kiwi are very healthy fruit and are often grown as espalier fruit in warmer, viticultural climates. Facade greening with kiwis on older grapevine trellises has been a thing since around 1970. Because of their very vigorous growth, kiwi plants need a lot of space and need to be trimmed several times in summer; that's why they are most often used on pergolas - wich is also the way they are cultivated. They are interesting for very high greening projects, for covered alleys and similar projects. The Mini-kiwi is an interesting alternative for rougher climates, as well as the arctic kiwi.

(Latin.: Actinidia chinensis / deliciosa)

Kiwi fruits

Requirements / Origin

Kiwi are grown on pergola and only regularly bear fruit in warm climates. Growing kiwi on walls or facades is a good idea in colder climates, but the location must be sunny, warm and protected from wind. Cold microclimates such as on north facing slopes are not an option. The ground should fresh or even damp and not too calcareous - a slightly acidic garden soil with a lot of humus is good. Water regularly if the soil is dry. Kiwi plants can be found in local nurseries or bought online.

Characteristics and Pruning

Vigorous twining climber, gives the well-known kiwi fruits with an extremely high vitamin C content. The fruit is originally from China and has been distributed in Europe from New Zealand since the 1950s and is nowadays also cultivated in Southern Europe. The growth habit of the kiwi plant is similar to trained trees. In commercial plantations, the plants are trained as horizontal cordons with short spurs. The growth is very vigorous, with a growth height of up to 20 meters and more. Early (danger from late frosts), hairy, rust-red young shoots. The foliage is very healthy, the flowers are yellow / white and the flowering happens at the end of May. Multiple prunings are required when the kiwi grows on a wall trellis! The acidity can be reduced by letting the fruit hang a long time and by harvesting only right before the first frost in autumn. the shelf life in long and the fruit will ripen even more when left in the refrigerator, or by storing them next to apples (they will also decay faster). The variety "Hayworth" ("Hayward") is a standard. Both male and female plants need to be present for fruits. The male plant doesn't need to take up too much space on the trellis. The variety "Jenny" is monoecious and self-fertile, but the fruit are smaller. The strong growth of the plant may result in building damages. The appearance and habitus is somewhat similar to Celastrus Orbiculatus, but the leaves of Actinidia Chinensis are larger.

Growing aid for kiwi

The table at the bottom of the page shows wich trellis designs can be used for a kiwi plant. The trunk may be trained just as a grapevine trunk would be. Choose a trellis in the medium range, or even better in the heavy or massive ranges for more stability.

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 page. On a pergola, the individual wires should be 40 to 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 in trained trees. The main axes should be 35 to 40 cm apart. The kiwi shoots grow very quickly - leave at least 1.5 meters distance between the trellis and downpipes or lightning rods!

Suitable wire rope trellis

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

Facade greening with kiwi

Examples of greening projects with kiwi as espalier fruit on facades, covered alleys as well as pictures of various flowers.

Ripening kiwi on a pergola
Kiwi growing on vertical wires under a shelter
Tall actinidia plant on a pergola
Wall greened with a kiwi climbing plant
It's hard to keep a kiwi small, as can be seen with these long shoots
This kiwi is kept in a tight shape with regular pruning
Only a small wall area is covered with leaves here
Facade colonized by a kiwi plant
Two kiwi espaliers on a garage wall
Two strictly trained kiwi plants
Strictly formed kiwi plants with a wire rope trellis "Classic" on a carport
Kiwis get green very early in spring on the trellis!
House greening with a massive kiwi plant, flowering time
Kiwi in late summer, several fruits can be seen under the leaves
This is what a kiwi espalier wall looks like when left whithout pruning for a year
Kiwi espalier in winter: the very strong, hard to contain growth is clearly visible here!
Male kiwi flower
Female kiwi flowers

Suitable trellis designs for kiwis

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

 = suitable              = sometimes suitable              = not suitable