Kiwi Vines

Also known as Chinese Gooseberry,  Kiwi. Kiwi plants are in great demand for their fruit and beautiful foliage. There are 3 species: Actinidia arguta, A. deliciosa (syn. chinensis), A. kolomikta

Kiwi / Chinese Gooseberry (Actinidia deliciosa)

Produces the popular Kiwi fruit. Originally from Asia and distributed from New Zealand, there are now plantations also in Southern Europe. Very vigorous shoot growth, young shoots hairy and rusty coloured. Susceptible to late frosts. A well-known cultivar is “Hayworth” (“Hayward”). “Jenny” is  monoecious  (see below) though bears smaller fruit. Pruning is complex, professional training similar to the Horizontal Cordon. If not trained properly, can cause damage similar to Wisteria. Refer below for suitable growth support systems, stem training as described for grapevines. Medium, but better Heavy Duty Systems.

Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi / Dessert Kiwi / Cocktail Kiwi (Actinidia arguta)

Also known as Bower Actinidia, Tara Vine, Red-Fleshed Actinidia Fruit and Cocktail Kiwi, this plant originates from Japan, China and Korea. Fruit is small, but fruit bearing is reliable, a plant with modest requirements and low maintenance. Yearly pruning required to thin out growth. Growth slightly less vigorous than A. deliciosa. Smooth, red-brown, non-hairy shoots. Grows to about 8m in height. Yellow autumn colouring! The cultivar “Issai” is monoecious (see below). The high frost resistance of the plants allows for Pot Cultivation, given the right conditions. For suitable growth support systems, see below, similar as described for grapevines. Medium, but preferably Heavy Duty Growth Support Systems.

Kiwi / Kolomikta Vine (Actinidia kolomikta)

Similar to the Kolomikta Vine is the “Silver Vine” also known as "Cat Powder" or "Chinese Cat Powder" (Actinidia polygama), however it has bitter fruit. An ornamental Kiwi with filigree foliage, leaves on male plants have white-pink apices in early summer. Grows only to about 2 - 3m. Shrubby twiner, occasionally blue-black fruit on female plants. Especially suitable for small espaliers, wire rope systems as for Clematis. Medium as well as Heavy Duty Support Systems.

Kiwi Vine Actinidia chinensis
Kiwi / Chinese Gooseberry after summer pruning, on horizontal wires
Chinese Gooseberry
True Kiwi or Chinese Gooseberry: Female flowers with radiating pistils that gave rise to its German common name “Strahlengriffel”
Male flowers of Actinidia chinensis
Grape vine (left) and Chinese Gooseberry (right)
Fruit of the Kiwi / Chinese Gooseberry (A. deliciosa), 10cent piece for size comparison
Fruit of Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi before the harvest, 10cent piece for size comparison
The ornamental Kolomikta Vine
Ornamental Kiwi, wire rope
Kolamikta Vine, most likely “Clara Zeltkin” from Mitschurin

Requirements for all Actinidia species

Sunny and warm Position, sheltered from wind to promote fruit ripening. The “true” Kiwi or Chinese Gooseberry (Actinidia deliciosa) is only suitable for wine growing regions, other species can be grown in areas up to approx. 600m above sea level. Fresh, moist and humus rich garden soil is best; where position is dry, water regularly, but avoid water logging.

Growth and Leaves

Twining climbers with very healthy and long-lasting foliage, from April / May until October / November.

Fruit of Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi
Hardy Kiwi on wire ropes
New shoot on Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi. In contrast to the Chinese Gooseberry, the young shoots are not hairy and are of a strong red colour.
Young Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi
Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi: early shoots, before the foliage of the surrounding trees appears
Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi: foliage with flower buds in leaf axil
Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi along an annex, without summer pruning
Emerging fruit of Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi (Actinidia arguta) after flowering
Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi without summer pruning
Autumn colouring of Hardy Kiwi / Baby Kiwi

Flower and Fruit

(Yellow-) white flowers in June / July, usually hidden under the leaves, A. deliciosa flowers already at the end of May. Leave the fruit on the plant until just before the first frost, to promote ripening and reduce the acidity. Kiwi is extremely rich in Vitamin C and suitable for long storage with subsequent ripening (refrigerator). Apples stored next to the Kiwi fruit will speed up their ripening, but also their decay. Almost all species are dioecious, and fruit will only develop if both female and male plants are grown together.

Growth Support Systems

Refer above. Lightning conductors, downpipes, eave gutters etc are not to be reached  by Actinidia species, always keep a distance of 1.5m to these and the gutters, to the side as well as to the top!

Chinese Gooseberry, the early shoots appear simultaneously with flowering tulips etc
Chinese Gooseberry in winter. Its vigorous - and difficult to control - growth habit is clearly visible.
Kiwi / Chinese Gooseberry left unpruned
Chinense Gooseberry
Kiwi / Chinese Gooseberry after vigorous summer pruning
Actinidia delisiosa (chinensis)
Actinidia chinensis
Chinese Gooseberry on tension cables
Baby Kiwi Actinidia arguta

Suitable growth support systems for Kiwi Vines

Please click on the graphic illustrations !

 = suitable               = moderately suitable              = unsuitable