Kiwi Berry

Hardy Kiwi - Cocktail Kiwi - Kiwi Berry

Kiwi Berry Plant and berries
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Kiwi berries look and taste just like miniature Kiwi Fruit, without the fuzzy exterior. they differ a tad in coloration - as they are purplish, sometimes greenish brown. Kiwi berries are roughly the size of grapes and grow on a hardy climbing perennial vine reaching 15 to 20 feet in length .

The kiwi itself originated in China while the Kiwi Berry is indigenous to Japan and Korea. It can be grown in a wide range of climates and will survive in temperatures as low as -30 degrees F when mature. Younger plants are not as hardy. For optimal results a growing season of about 150 days is needed, although the berries will continue to mature in cold weather so long as it is not a very rapid and sudden cold snap. They can also be grown successfully in warm areas that have a short winter season. Hardiness zones vary by variety, some can be grown up to zone 5, while others require the climates of zones 9 - 10.

Grown from seed the germination period is approximately 30 days, sow more seed than you anticipate planting as many will never germinate. Starting indoors in cell-packs or peat pots is advisable in cooler regions, in warmer regions they can be direct seeded as soon as the ground is workable in the spring.

If started indoors they must be hardened off / acclimated before planting or placing them outdoors.

This is true in either hot or cool locations. Hardening off is a very simple process of gradually acclimating young plants to the ravages of Mother Nature, in order to ensure their survival. See - Hardening Off Seedlings

They can also be started from plant cuttings grafted onto acceptable root stock. See- Grafting Fruit Trees.

Cuttings can also be rooted and planted as clones. See - New plants from Cuttings

A trellis or similar support such as a fence is advisable, it will not only keep the plant from sprawling across the ground by encouraging horizontal growth but it is also easier to maintain and harvest.

Full sunlight is best but partial shade is acceptable. They are thirsty little water hogs and not advisable for drought plagued regions. Water daily for optimal results.

Most varieties are not self fertile and two plants - male and female are necessary to ensure pollination and fruit production. One promiscuous male plant can pollinate up to half a dozen females. A few hybrid varieties offered for sale will produce both male and female flowers and are self fertile.

In the plants second year, fertilize with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. Apply twice annually . Apply a large dosage before growth commences and a diluted dosage after the fruit sets. No fertilizer in its first year is needed or advised other than compost or well rotted manure.

Flowering occurs in late spring of its 3rd year, occasionally the second. A Harvest in early Autumn can produce 85 - 100 lbs of berries from mature healthy specimens grown under optimal conditions. They are best left to ripen on the vine in order for the sugars to adequately concentrate, but can be harvested slightly earlier with some loss of quality.

They are susceptible to rots such as phytophthora, botrytis rot, and sclerotinia blight.

Spider Mites, thrips, aphids, and some beetles will also infest these plants in particular Japanese Beetle.

The plant contains an active ingredient "nepetalactone" a plant terpenoid that is found in higher concentrations in Catnip. It has an affect on the central nervous system of cats and they have been known to dig up the plants.