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.