How to Care for a Kiwi Plant

Updated April 17, 2017

A kiwi plant is a subtropical vine that can grow up to 30 feet long and produces small, hairy oval-shaped fruits the size of large eggs. Kiwi is a dioecious plant, which means that you need to buy both male and female plants in order to produce fruit. One male plant can pollinate up to eight female plants, but the vine will not produce fruit for at least four years. The common kiwi plant is hardy in areas where temperatures do not drop below -17.8 degrees C. Caring for kiwi is really about knowing how to prune the plant and create an environment for the vines to thrive.

Plant kiwi plants 15 to 20 feet apart in a sunny, wind-protected location with well-drained soil. The kiwi tolerates any kind of soil as long as it is well-drained. Prune the kiwi plants back to four or five buds.

Build a sturdy trellis or arbor to support the vines once they are grown. The best trellises, according to the Washington State University Extension, are those made of 6-foot tall treated posts set in concrete with another plank across the top to make a T-bar. Space three 12-gauge wires about 1 to 1.5 feet apart from one another along the tops of the planks.

Water the plants, keeping them moist until they take root in the soil and begin to grow on their own. You may then decrease the watering frequency gradually. If there is a drought, increase the frequency once again to keep the plants vigorous.

Choose a strong bud to be the main stem for the kiwi and stake it, training it to the top of the trellis as it grows. Allow this bud to grow to the middle wire of your trellis system and pinch it off when it gets to the top. Then select two opposite-facing buds to go along the wire.

Select fruiting arms during the second growing season that are 2 feet apart on the two opposite leads and pinch all others back. Guide these arms to the two wires on either side of the lead vines. Fruits will develop off the shoots from these arms.

Pinch back the fruit shoots so that each one has no more than leaves on it in spring. In summer, continue to prune these shoots.

Harvest the fruits in October when the skin is completely brown. During the winter, cut back the fruiting arms that have produced fruit this season, leaving only a few to produce fruit next season. This will promote new, vigorous growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Male and female kiwi plants
  • Water
  • Trellis
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About the Author

Sarah Morse has been a writer since 2009, covering environmental topics, gardening and technology. She holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature, a master's degree in English and a master's degree in information science.