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The kiwi (Actinidia) belongs to the family Actinidiaceae (Actinidiaceae). Although the fruits are mostly imported from New Zealand, they are originally from China. Therefore, their actual name comes "Chinese gooseberry". The name "kiwi", which is reminiscent of the heraldic animal of New Zealand, the little bird, was created for marketing purposes. The kiwi has been known to us for 30 years and has been one of the most popular exotic fruits ever since.

The genus of kiwis include various species, which are usually called simply kiwi. The most widespread are the large hairy kiwis (Actinidia deliciosa), the slightly acidic, smooth-skinned Actinidia chinensis with yellow pulp and the kiwi berries, also called mini-kiwi fruit (Actinidia arguta). In Asia, kiwis have been cultivated for over a thousand years - not least because of their long shoots used for papermaking. The heat-sensitive and frost-sensitive fruit can be cultivated here, but the cultivation of large-fruited kiwis is recommended only in wine-growing regions and in situations with mild winters and rainy summers.

Appearance and growth

Kiwis are perennial, liana-like, deciduous creepers. The large, wheel-shaped flowers of the kiwi plant appear in June to July. Their flowers have snow-white and later yellowish petals with numerous golden yellow stamens. The plants are dioecious except for a few new breeds, so they carry either only male or purely female flowers. On the flower form one can distinguish male from female flowers: Numerous stamens and small styluses distinguish male flowers, on the other hand female flowers appear in small numbers per inflorescence and carry radiating white styluses, surrounded by a wreath of stamens. Only from the female plants develop the fruits.

Female kiwi flower

Female kiwi flower

The fruits of the kiwi are large, depending on the type of roller-shaped berries, which are covered by a brown and densely hairy skin. Inside the fruit are located along the central axis of many intergrown seed container with black seeds. The flesh is green and soft. It tastes sour, fragrant, especially when the fruits are mature but not overripe. Kiwis have a high vitamin C content. As the plants loop like lianas in the height and width, they need a scaffold on which they can grow along.

Ripe kiwi fruits

Ripe kiwi fruits

Location and ground

Kiwis have a low frost hardness and the budding is very frosty. Even in warm regions or vineyards Kiwis thrive best in a sheltered place. The location must be warm and bright, but not full sun. At locations outside of orchards and vineyards, kiwi plants are planted on a southwest or west side of the house. So you can delay the budding so far back in the spring, until the late frost is over. A loosely nutrient- and humus-rich soil with a pH in the slightly acidic range is best suited. Lime-rich soil tolerates the kiwi only bad. If necessary, some rhododendron earth can be mixed in with the soil. To lean soils you should improve in advance with compost. Kiwi plants are also suitable for large planters on the terrace.


Since kiwi plants, which were pulled from seeds, bloom only after six to ten years, it is recommended to buy young plants in the specialized trade. These were usually propagated by cuttings and bloom so after two to four years.

Sprouting kiwi

The budding occurs in mild vineyards often already in April. Even in southern locations, the danger of damage from late frost increases due to global warming

Kiwis are late Frost - the ideal planting time is from mid-May to August. Since kiwis are dioecious, they should always put male and female plants to ensure fertilization. The optimal planting distance is three to four meters. It is advisable to incorporate as much as possible foliage or bark compost in the soil and then to water the young plants well.
It is also advisable to provide the soil with a mulch layer immediately after planting. It ensures that the soil does not dry out so quickly and does not heat up so quickly in dry periods. For the tendrils of the kiwi plants, which can grow up to ten meters long, a stable climbing frame, such as a pergola or a trellis (see "Education and Cutting"), is necessary.

care Tips

In order for the fruits to mature and develop their aromatic and sourish sweetness, kiwis must be regularly watered, especially in hot summers.You do not have to fertilize young plants. Older people can be supplied with horn meal or mineral fertilizer in August and in spring. During the first years, you should additionally cover the trunks and the root area of ​​the kiwi plants in the winter with brushwood. If you keep kiwis in the pot, a sufficient supply of water and nutrients is essential. In addition, you should prune too long shoots regularly.

Education and editing

Since the Kiwi trains long shoots, the plants need a stable trellis. We recommend a trellis scaffold with two to three horizontally tensioned wires. When the plants are pulled on the wall, you can build this simple scaffolding directly in front of it and tie the shoots to it. The bottom wire should be about 80 centimeters high, the next to be stretched at a distance of 50 centimeters each.

Kiwi plant at the trellis

A simple wire harness provides support for less vigorous varieties. In education, the tendrils are tied up in a fan shape and limited growth by a vigorous summer cut when the fruits are just walnut-sized

Likewise suitable as scaffoldings are pergolas or pergolas to which the side shoots of the kiwi plants are attached. In the first years, a main shoot was to be pulled vertically from the trunk to the topmost wire. From this main drive then two strong side arms are pulled horizontally to the left and right and laid the fruit-bearing branches over the wires. Over the years, the lianas growing plants condense over the trellis or the pergola and also provide a nice privacy. An additional advantage: large kiwis can catch on in the autumn for a long time. Cutting measures are necessary from about the third year. The one-year fruit shoots can be shortened by about one-third in August, leaving about six to eight leaves left. You can also shorten the drive ends of the leading drives once a year. Make stronger cuts in late summer as the plants bleed heavily in spring.


Kiwi blossom

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There are now also a few single-leaf kiwi varieties that carry male and female flowers on a plant.

Most kiwi varieties are dioecious. That is, each plant carries either only female or only male flowers. Fertilization therefore requires at least one male and one female kiwi plant. A male plant can fertilize not too far planting distance (if possible not more than four meters) up to seven female plants. There are now also a few single-leaf kiwi varieties that carry male and female flowers on a plant. They theoretically do without pollinator. The practice shows, however, that even with these varieties, the fruit set is much higher, if you place two plants side by side. If bees, bumblebees and other insects are absent during flowering, you should take the pollination into your own hands. Using the stamens of a male flower, gently brush across the radial white stylus in the center of the female flowers.

Harvest and recovery

Kiwis contain a lot of vitamin C and are rich in calcium, iron, potassium, other minerals and vitamins B1 and E. The fruits are also rich in fiber and low in calories. You can harvest the sweet and sour fruits, which are from a botanical point of view berries, from the end of September to October. As they often do not fully mature in cooler locations on the plant, you can simply ripen the fruits in the house on the windowsill. Harvest ripe kiwis do not last too long. But they can be stored quite well in a humid room with a temperature of 12 degrees Celsius. You can eat the vitamin-rich kiwis fresh, but also to jams and jellies, cook or use for cakes or bowls.

Kiwis harvest

Under the canopy of a bower, large-fruited kiwis can hang in the autumn and develop their full aroma. In order to preserve the shoots, one cuts fruit by fruit half a centimeter above the stalk


While most kiwi varieties are hardy, young frosty seedlings will always need frost protection in the first winter. Ideal are a warming ground cover made of bark mulch and pine as a wind and sun protection for the shoots.
If kiwis are cultivated in the tub, they should be set up in winter in a cool, light location in the house because of their frost-sensitive roots. With the beginning of the sprouting in March, the plant is brought back into the open. Short-term minus degrees tolerates them there even without winter protection.

variety Tips

'Hayward' is a proven strain with large, hairy fruits. Their kiwis are up to seven inches long and about 100 grams heavy. It should be harvested at the latest after the first light frosts.The plants bear about the fourth year and need a Befruchtersorte because they are dioecious. For example, the male variety 'Atlas' is suitable for this.
Also popular are 'Bruno' with narrow and cylindrical fruits and 'Monty'. 'Abbott' grows strong, blooms early and is a purely female strain. From the end of October, their cylindrical, medium-sized fruits are ripe, which taste very sweet. 'Matua' and 'Nostino' are male pollinators.

Kiwi Actinida deliciosa Jenny

The furry fruits of large-fruited varieties grow in the lower part of one-year-old tendrils. In mild conditions, varieties like 'Jenny' often carry more than you can use for yourself

The kiwi variety 'Jenny' is a very productive and self-fertile breeding. Their fruits are up to four centimeters shorter than those of 'Hayward' and bring about 20 grams on the scales. The very sweet, juicy fruits are ready for harvest from mid-October. They mature in the wine-growing climate usually on the bush, in climatically unfavorable locations you can ripen in the house. Tip: 'Jenny' is also suitable as a pollinator for large-fruited dioecious kiwi varieties such as 'Hayward'. But even if she is a self-pollinating breed, she will be richer if you give her a male planting partner.
Mini kiwis are derived from the wild species Actinidia arguta. They are frost hardier and less heat-needy than large-fruited varieties. The high-yielding plants produce smooth-shelled fruits that can be eaten straight from the bush. A proven variety is for example 'Weiki', which was bred at the research institute Weihenstephan and therefore also called "Bayern Kiwi". She is, as well as the well-known male variety 'Kiwai' from selections of Actinidia arguta and Actinidia melanandra originated. 'Weiki' makes walnut-sized, sweet and very vitamin C-rich fruits that ripen from the end of September. It is resistant to pests and diseases and can yield up to 30 kilograms. To fertilize the flowers, a male variety is required. The variety 'Issai' is a self-fertile mini kiwi. The strongly growing Schlingstrauch can grow up to 18 meters high and is extremely hardy. The yield starts already after two to three years. Its smooth-shell, green fruits are up to four inches long, taste very sweet and develop a pleasant aroma.


Kiwi plants are propagated by cuttings. In early summer, cut about 15 centimeters long, at least pencil-thick shoots with already woody bark and three to four easily recognizable eyes. Remove all leaves except a few at the shoot tip and place the sections in pots filled with lean soil. Lower the containers into the ground in a shady, sheltered spot and cover the surface with a thick mulch layer of straw. Once the cuttings have rooted the pot, they are planted in the designated place.

Diseases and pests

Kiwi plants are generally very robust. Occasionally occur leaf or scale insects, rarely fungal diseases.

Video Board: Harry Styles - Kiwi.

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