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Kiwi vines are similar to grapes in that they must grow and mature for several years before they will bear fruit. The kiwi vines grow rapidly, but can take anywhere from two to five years before fruit appears. The time needed to mature depends on the variety of kiwi and the growing conditions. Hardy kiwi varieties tend to mature faster than traditional varieties.
Male Plants Pollinate Female Plants
Individual kiwi plants will produce either male or female flowers. The presence of both male and female flowers is required for a female plant to bear fruit, however, one male plant can pollinate several female plants. Honey bees, butterflies and other garden insects typically aid the pollination process by carrying the pollen from the male flower to the female flower as they travel between the two. Pollination may also take place by wind or in some cases through human intervention.
Kiwi Fruits Grow and Ripen
Following pollination, fruit will begin to develop and grow just below the base of the visible flower, in the flower's ovule. Kiwi fruits look like small grapes as they are beginning to grow, but quickly develop a fuzzy exterior for which they are known. Although kiwi fruit reaches mature size quickly, it takes several more months to fully ripen. Most varieties of kiwi take about 150 days from flowering until the fruit is ripe, but some varieties can take up to 220 days. Kiwi fruit is often picked just before it is fully ripe and then allowed to ripen on the shelf.