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Learn about Kiwi

Hardy Kiwi: Potted Fruit Plant

How to Plant

Planting Potted Plants: 

  • Choose a location in full sun in an area with well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0. 
  • When choosing a site, bear in mind that kiwis grow into vigorous vines and need to be grown on a support.
  • Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 6-12 inches removing any debris, and lightly raking as level as possible.
  • The addition of organic matter (leaf mold, compost, well-rotted manure) benefits all gardens and is essential in recently constructed neighborhoods.
  • Both male and female plants are needed to produce fruit. Make sure that your male plant is planted within 30 feet of your female plant. 
  • Dig a hole at least 2 times the size of the root ball.
  • Set the plant in the hole so that the root ball is level with the surrounding soil, backfill and press the soil firmly into the hole cavity. 
  • Water deeply. The water will seal off any air pockets around the root ball. 
  • Use a stick or marker to indicate where the plant is planted.  

How to Grow

  • Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients. Control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
  • Kiwis benefit from having their roots mulched. Mulch can be aged bark or compost to keep more constant soil temperatures and moisture levels for better growth.
  • Kiwis prefer a good root zone soaking rather than daily misting.
  • In the first year plants make roots and top growth will be slow. Once established, kiwi vines are vigorous growers. Fertilizer may be supplied as compost applied as a top dress. If you feel plants are off-color, use an organic fertilizer according to the directions on the label.
  • As the vines grow, train them on a support system such as a trellis. Your trellis must be able to bear a lot of weight as vines grow to be large. You can also train kiwi along a fence. Set durable wood or metal posts 15-18 feet apart and sink them at least 3 feet into the ground. Stretch two galvanized wires between the posts; one 2 ½ feet and one 5 ½ feet above the ground.
  • In winter protect the root zone with a second application of at least 4-6 inches of mulch or compost. Pull back the winter mulch in spring.
  • Winter is the best time to prune female vines. Remove dead, broken or diseased branches. Fruit develops on new growth that came from 1 year old canes (last year’s growth). Select the strongest shoot, shorten it to 4 buds and remove other shoots at the trunk. As this shoot grows, tie it to the nearest horizontal wire. This will form the main trunk. Lateral buds along the trunk will develop and produce canes.
  • Except for the main trunk remove all canes that are more than a year old. Remove all canes that produced fruit they will not produce again.
  • The following late winter, select 4 pencil-sized canes, 2 on either side of the trunk, and attach them to the horizontal wires. Remove other canes along the trunk, leaving 4 shoots with 2 buds on each to develop into fruit-bearing canes the following year. The best fruit is produced on pencil-sized canes between the second and twelfth bud from the base.  
  • If you are training the vines on an arbor for shade and fruit, cut back the previous season’s growth about ¼ of its length each spring until the arbor is covered. Then, annually prune out all canes smaller than pencil-size and cut back some of the larger canes to 2-3 buds.
  • In the summer cut non-flowering laterals back to the outside wire on the trellis. Trim flowering shoots back to 4-8 leaves beyond the last flower.
  • Male plants must be pruned back immediately after flowering. Plants should be cut back to vigorous new growth close to the leader. Do not prune male plants in the winter or the flowers will be cut off.
  • Monitor for Pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.

Harvest and Preserving Tips

  • Pick fruit promptly to discourage insects.
  • Protect fruit crops with bird netting as they approach ripeness or bag individual clusters with sturdy, brown paper type bags tied securely to the cane when clusters are about half developed. Leave enough air space in the bags for clusters to develop.
  • Kiwi ripens late in the year; if a frost is expected remove unripened fruit and allow it to ripen in the refrigerator. Fruit is ripe when the first fruit is softening on the vine, harvest all fruit at once. Once ripe, eat the fruit as soon as you can.

Common Disease Problems

Botrytis: This fungus causes a grey mold on flowers, leaves, stems and buds. It thrives in cool wet weather conditions. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected plant parts, avoid watering at night and getting water on the plant when watering. Make sure plants have good air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations. 

Crown and Root Rots: A number of pathogens cause root rots of seedlings as well as mature roots. Plants can collapse and die during the summer months. Burpee Recommends: Pull up and discard infected plants. Make sure your soil has excellent drainage. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations. 

Root Knot Nematodes: Microscopic worm-like pests that cause swellings (galls) to form on roots. Plants may wilt or appear stunted. This is a serious problem in many Southern states. Burpee Recommends: Do not plant into infested soil. Grow resistant varieties. Try planting ‘Nema-Gone’ marigolds around your plants. 

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Cats: Hardy Kiwi trunks have a catnip-like aroma which can cause cats to rub up against or dig up the plants. Burpee Recommends: Check with your veterinarian for recommendations. 

Japanese Beetles: Burpee Recommends: Hand pick early in the morning into a bucket of soapy water.

Root Knot Nematodes: Microscopic worm-like pests that cause swellings (galls) to form on roots. Plants may wilt or appear stunted. This is a serious problem in many Southern states. Burpee Recommends: Do not plant into infested soil. Try planting ‘Nema-Gone’ marigolds around your plants. 

Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations. 

Thrips: Thrips are tiny needle-thin insects that are black or straw colored. They suck the juices of plants and attack flower petals, leaves and stems. The plant will have a stippling, discolored flecking or silvering of the leaf surface. Thrips can spread many diseases from plant to plant. Burpee Recommends: Many thrips may be repelled by sheets of aluminum foil spread between rows of plants. Remove weeds from the bed and remove debris from the bed after frost. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls. 

Kiwi FAQs

Do I need two different varieties of kiwi to get fruit?  No, but you do need a male and a female plant to get fruit. Burpee sells hardy kiwi as a collection of a male and female plant.

Will I get fruit the first year? No. Expect first fruit in 2 years after planting, and 3-5 years after planting for full fruit.

Do I need to peel hardy kiwi?  No, the skin is not fuzzy and it is edible, so you can eat the whole fruit.

Are kiwi flowers fragrant? Yes, kiwi flowers have a fragrance similar to lily of the valley.

How long will hardy kiwi plants last? Hardy kiwi can last 30 years in the gardenMake sure you prune it every year to ensure vigor.

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