How to prune a kiwi vine

Updated April 13, 2018

Kiwis are perennial, creeping vines. Unchecked, they will grow into wild, unmanageable tangles. Kiwi vines grow vigorously; if you keep them pruned, they will reward you with large crops of fruit. Both fuzzy (tropical) kiwi and hardy kiwi have similar growth and fruiting habits. To make pruning and harvesting easier, both hardy and fuzzy kiwi vines should be trained on a trellis or bar system.

Construct a trellis for your kiwi. A "T-trellis" is a frequently used type consisting of one post for each kiwi vine spaced 8 to 12 feet apart. Use a "T" cross piece on the top of each post with wires strung between them, similar to a clothesline. Three wires, one in the centre and one on each end, is typical.

Trim a young kiwi vine to establish a leader. The leader should be loosely tied to the post. It will become trunk-like as the plant matures and it will develop bark. Kiwi vines live for 50 years.

Prune the leader to develop lateral canes. Allow six cane buds to grow as lateral canes, one for each wire running in both directions, from the central leader. Loosely tie the laterals so they are supported by the three wires.

The trunk and laterals make up the permanent framework of the kiwi vines.

Prune established hardy kiwi vines in late winter while they are dormant. Cut out damaged and dead wood; reshape the vines if necessary. Prune off the wood that bore last year's fruit, leaving a few buds to set new canes.

Prune hardy kiwi vines several times throughout the growing season just to keep them from rambling. As you trim off wayward vines, maintain the original laterals.

Prune tropical fuzzy kiwi vines throughout the season to keep them in shape on your trellis. Keep spent and damaged canes pruned out. Allow new canes to develop for the next crop, and space them about 15 inches apart. Tip prune to control growth if necessary.

Determine which vines are male and which are female. All kiwi plants are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Both have flowers; the male flowers produce pollen for the female flowers.

Avoid pruning female fruiting canes during the summer. Allow new canes to develop for next year; prune out spent fruiting canes after the plant is dormant.

Trim male vines after blooming. Remove spent flowering canes and they will continue to re-bloom all season. Allow new canes to develop for flowers next year.


Kiwi will set fruit on the previous year's vine growth. Leave canes that will bloom and bear fruit; keep them spaced 12 to 15 inches apart along the laterals. On an established kiwi vine, prune back the spent fruit-bearing canes in the late fall or early spring, any time the kiwi is dormant.

Things You'll Need

  • Trellis or support wires
  • Kiwi vines
  • Pruning clippers
  • Plant ties
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About the Author

Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.