Fast growing vine that can reach 25 to 30 feet in height and 7 to 20 foot spread. Easily pruned and shapeable for a trellis or overhead pergola to produce shade. Native range is temperate eastern Asia and it is hardy to zone 3 and can tolerate climates in zone 8. Shoots can be vulnerable to frost in the spring. The vines need frost free 150 days of growing season. Not damaged by late freezes if the temperature changes are gradual so they can acclimate. Rapid freeze will kill off buds and split vines. Germination time from seed is about 1 month, but can be propagated from cuttings or grafted to an established rootstock.
Blooms small greenish white flowers in May. Fruits ripen in early fall and are the size of a grape or slightly larger. Fruits appear after the third year, but can take up to 5 years. Frost burned flowers will result in no fruit production in the remainder of the year. They are smooth skinned and taste like the true kiwi except slightly sweeter. Each vine can produce up to 100 pounds per year but average yield is about 50 pounds per vine. Size and yield are cultivar dependent. The fruit contains up to 5 times the vitamin C content of blackcurrants. The sap can be tapped and drank in the spring.
It should be grown in average, medium moisture, well drained soil in full sun to part shade. Can tolerate clay soils. If speed of growth is an issue, you can plant in slightly less fertile soils and maybe in some more shade, but for good flower production and fruiting stick with the ideal conditions.
Supposedly it is vulnerable to several botanical diseases including crown root rot which is most serious, botrytis rot, and blight. Also vulnerable to insect infestations including root knot nematodes, spider mites, and japanese beetles. Cats are attracted by the catnip like smell that is produced by the vines and can dig up the roots in search of the smell.
If you have a variety that needs a pollinator it can be useful to mark from early on which branches are male or female so that you don’t prune too much of the female off. This helps especially when it is older. Male pollinator can accomodate up to six females.Also, you can manipulate where the female goes so that it is easier to harvest come that time of year. Two prunings per year are recommended. Once in the winter back 8 or 10 buds and then also in the summer for longer shoots. Really pruning can be done whenever the growth is excessive to your needs.
- Jon K.
Nanking Cherry is native to Northern and Western China, Korea, and Mongolia. Zones 2 to 7. Deciduous shrub growing 6 to 10 feet high and somewhat wider. It has alternate leaves with irregular serrate margins that are pubescent above. Flowers have male and female parts and are pollinated by insects. Plant usually blooms 2-3 years after planting. Flowers bloom in april and are white or pink that open before the leaves appear or at the same time. Flowers are born on previous years growth. They prefer full sun to part shade. They reliably flower heavily. They produce a sweet cherry fruit that are slightly tart. The unripe fruits can be pickled and dye can be made from the leaves.
Has been long cultivated for various purposes. The fruit is edible, and is a good ingredient for juice, jam and wine, and in pickled vegetables and mushrooms. It can also be grown as an ornamental for it’s beautiful flowers and pruned for bonsai. It is used as a dwarf rootstock for other cherry varieties which is great. In the Midwest it is used in hedgerows to provide wind protection. Also can be used for erosion control and naturalized plantings. It attracts birds.
It likes well drained soil, can tolerate a variety of soil types and uses a moderate amount of water and requires little maintenance. It can tolerate drought. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much is present. Thrives in hot summers and sheltered positions. Propagation from seed requires 2-3 months of stratification. It will sucker if the roots are damaged because they are shallow rooted. You can layer it in the spring and use cuttings for propagation as well. The seeds have a small amount of hydrocyanic acid or cyanide. Much like apple seeds or almonds. Said not to ingest or eat really bitter fruit or seeds because of this. Plants in this genus can be susceptible to honey fungus.
- Jon K.