Kiwi Plant Types – Different Varieties Of Kiwi Fruit

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

There are approximately 50 types of kiwi fruit. The variety you choose to grow in your landscape will depend upon your zone and the space you have available. Some vines can grow up to 40 feet (12 m.), which requires excessive trellising and space. There are four species that are cultivated for gardens: arctic, hardy, fuzzy, and hairless (Actinidia chinensis). Each have different characteristics, frost tolerance and flavor. Choose your kiwi plant types by your location but also by your flavor and size preferences.

Types of Kiwi Fruit

Kiwis were once thought to be tropical to sub-tropical vines but careful breeding has resulted in cultivars that thrive in temperatures down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 C.), such as the Arctic kiwi or Actinidia kolomikta. This is good news for kiwi lovers who want to produce their own fruit.

Different varieties of kiwi may have seeded or seedless, fuzzy or smooth, green, brown, purple or red skin and green or golden yellow fleshed fruits. The choices are dazzling. Here are some of the most popular within the species.

Hardy Kiwis

Hardy kiwis are one of the newer vines developed for cooler season growing. These kiwi vine varieties are perfect for regions with light frosts and short growing seasons, such as the Pacific Northwest. They are hairless, green and small but pack a lot of flavor and are tolerant of conditions that the fuzzy kiwi cannot withstand.

  • Ananasnaya is a good representative of the type, which has green to purplish-red skin and fragrant fruit.
  • Dumbarton Oaks and Geneva are also highly productive, and Geneva is an early producer.
  • Issai is self-fertile and will not require a male pollinator to produce fruit. Fruits are borne in tight, attractive clusters.

Fuzzy Kiwis

  • Hayward is the most common kiwi found in grocery stores. It is only hardy in areas with mild winters.
  • Meander is another common one of the fuzzy kiwi vine varieties to try.
  • Saanichton 12 is a cultivar that is hardier than Hayward but the center of the fruit is reportedly quite tough. Both of these require a male for pollination and several are available which would be suitable partners.
  • Blake is a self-fruiting vine with very small oval fruits. It is a vigorous plant but the fruits are not as flavorful as Hayward or Saanichton 12.

Actinidia chinensis is closely related to the fuzzy types of kiwi fruit but is hairless. Tropical, Arctic Beauty and Pavlovskaya are other examples of A. chinensis.

Arctic Kiwi Plant Types

Arctic Beauty is the most cold tolerant of the different varieties of kiwi. It has extremely hardy fruit and pink and white variegation on the leaves, making it an attractive addition to the landscape. Fruits are smaller and sparser than the other kiwi vine varieties but sweet and delicious.

Krupnopladnaya has the largest fruit and Pautske is the most vigorous of the Arctic kiwis. Each of these does need male pollinators to produce fruit.

Kiwi vines can produce fruit almost anywhere today as long as they get full sun, training, pruning, plenty of water and feeding. These extreme hardy specimens can bring a touch of the tropics to even zones with cold winters. Just remember to provide a thick layer of mulch around the root zone and these tough kiwis will sprout back in spring.

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Read more about Kiwi Plants

The fruit is referred to as Siberian gooseberry, Siberian kiwi, hardy kiwifruit, kiwi berry, arctic kiwi, baby kiwi, dessert kiwi, grape kiwi, northern kiwi, or cocktail kiwi, and are edible, berry- or grape-sized fruit similar to kiwifruit in taste and appearance, but are green, brownish, or purple with smooth skin, sometimes with a red blush. Often sweeter than the kiwifruit, hardy kiwifruit can be eaten whole and do not need to be peeled. Thin-walled, its exterior is smooth and leathery.

The larger kiwifruit in back compared to the smaller size of the hardy kiwi in front

Actinidia arguta was first described by Philipp Franz von Siebold and Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini in 1843 as Trochostigma argutum. [2] It was then moved to the genus Actinidia in 1867 by Friedrich Anton Wilhelm Miquel after the invalidly published suggestion by Jules Émile Planchon to move the species. [3]

The species consists of three varieties: [3]

  • Actinidia arguta var. arguta (autonym)
  • Actinidia arguta var. giraldii(Diels) Vorosch.
  • Actinidia arguta var. hypoleuca(Nakai) Kitam.

Actinidia arguta var. giraldii was originally described by Ludwig Diels at the species rank (Actinidia giraldii) in 1905, [4] but was later reduced to a variety of A. arguta in 1972 by Vladimir Nikolaevich Voroschilov. [5] A. arguta var. hypoleuca was originally described at the species rank (Actinidia hypoleuca) by Takenoshin Nakai in 1904, [6] but reduced to a variety of A. arguta in 1980 by Siro Kitamura. [7]

Actinidia arguta had been placed in section Leiocarpae and series Lamellatae, but this current infrageneric classification is unsupported. A 2002 study of the nuclear DNA internal transcribed spacer sequence and the plastid matK gene sequence for cladistic analysis revealed the current circumscription of the sections to be polyphyletic, with A. arguta forming a clade with A. melanandra near the base of the phylogenetic tree. [3] [8]

The most popular cultivars include 'Ananasnaya', 'Geneva', 'MSU', 'Weiki', 'Jumbo Verde', and 'Rogow'. A commonly sold self-fertile hybrid is the Japanese cultivar 'Issai' (A. arguta × rufa).

The fast-growing, climbing, twining vine (bine) is very hardy (hence the name hardy kiwi), and is capable of surviving slow temperature drops to -34 °C (-30 °F), although young shoots can be vulnerable to frost in the spring. [9] The vines need a frost-free growing season of about 150 days, but are not damaged by late freezes, provided that temperature changes are sufficiently gradual to allow plants to acclimate. Indeed, a period of winter chill is necessary for successful cultivation. However, rapid freezes kill off buds and split vines. The vines can also be grown in low-chill areas. [1]

While hardy kiwi may be grown directly from seeds (germination time is about one month), propagating from cuttings is also possible. Growing from seeds needs a period of cold stratification of one to two months to germinate. Hardy kiwi cuttings may be grafted directly onto established kiwifruit rootstock, or rooted themselves.

In domestic cultivation, a trellis may be used to encourage horizontal growth for easy maintenance and harvesting however, vines grow extremely quickly and require a strong trellis for support. Each vine can grow up to 20 ft in a single season, given ideal growing conditions. [10] For commercial planting, placement is important: plants can tolerate partial shade, but yields are optimized with full sunlight. Hardy kiwi vines consume large volumes of water therefore, they are usually grown in well-drained, acidic soils to prevent root rot. [1]

Pollination and harvest Edit

For vines to bear fruit, both male and female plants must be present to enable pollination. A male pollinator can enable six female producers to fruit. [9] Flowering typically occurs in late spring (May in the Northern Hemisphere) starting in the third year of growth. [11] If flowers become frost-burned, however, no fruit production will occur during the remainder of the year. [9]

An autumn harvest is standard among all varieties within this, actual harvest times are highly dependent on local climate and the specific cultivar grown. [1] Each individual vine can produce up to 100 pounds of fruit per year, but average annual yield is roughly 50 lb per vine. [9] Both fruit size and total yield are highly cultivar-dependent. Fruit left to ripen on the vine has an 18 to 25% sugar content at time of harvest. [9]

Hardy kiwi vines are vulnerable to several botanical diseases, including phytophthora crown and root rot (the most serious problem), botrytis rot, and sclerotinia blight. Vines are also vulnerable to pest infestations, including root knot nematodes, two-spotted spider mites, leaf rollers, thrips, and Japanese beetles. [9] Cats can also pose a problem, as they are attracted to a catnip-like smell produced by the hardy kiwi vines. Cats have been known to destroy vines and dig up roots in search of the source of the scent. [1]

Attempts to commercialize the fruit have been historically unsuccessful due to its short shelf-life and sporadic tendencies to ripen. However, attempts are being made to bring the fruit to greater bear, and commercial production initiatives are underway on a small scale in South America, New Zealand, Europe, Canada, and the United States (in Oregon, Washington, and central Pennsylvania). [10] [12]

The international opportunity for kiwifruit is huge.

SNZI has made a large investment in the kiwifruit industry, purchasing all of kiwifruit pioneer Don Skelton's varietals, patents, and growing rights. We are now making the Skelton varietals available to growers worldwide, choosing the best varietals for each growing environment.

In order to ensure Don’s knowledge is not lost in the ownership transition we are delighted that he has agreed to remain as a consultant to SNZI.

Outside of New Zealand, our focus is currently on helping growers in-

  • USA (Central California)
  • Australia
  • ‍South Africa
  • Spain
  • France
  • Bulgaria
  • Italy
  • Eqypt
  • Turkey
  • Peru

We support growers in all stages of the process, and trial our varieties extensively.

Our extensive Chinese network also provides tremendous export growth opportunities for our growers and marketers.

How to Peel the Kiwi From Your Aquaponics Garden

While Kiwi skin usually is edible, many folks choose to peel them before eating the fruit. Of course, before peeling your Kiwi do not forget to wash the fruit with cold water. After washing, use a sharp knife and slice both ends of your Kiwi.

Once you remove the ends, turn your fruit upright and peel off the remaining skin using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife. Remember to thinly slice to make sure you preserve the fruit nutrients close to the skin.

Similarly, you can use a teaspoon to separate the fruit from the skin. After you cut the ends of the Kiwi, run a teaspoon under your Kiwi skin. Make sure to reach the midpoint of your fruit to separate them. Repeat the process on the other side, then slowly take out the fruit from the skin.

Plant Library

Hardy Kiwi fruit and flesh

Hardy Kiwi fruit and flesh

Other Names: Bower Actinidia

A vigorous climbing vine that produces delicious edible but small kiwi fruit on female plants female plants require a male pollinator to set fruit very hardy and adaptable, a great way to fool your friends with the tasty fruit

The Hardy Kiwi is a woody vine that is typically grown for its edible qualities, although it does have ornamental merits as well. It produces small green oval fruit which are usually ready for picking from early to mid fall. The fruits have a sweet taste.

The fruit are most often used in the following ways:

The Hardy Kiwi features dainty fragrant white buttercup flowers with yellow anthers along the branches from mid to late spring. It has dark green foliage throughout the season. The large oval leaves turn yellow in fall. It features an abundance of magnificent green berries in early fall.

This is a dense multi-stemmed deciduous woody vine with a spreading, ground-hugging habit of growth. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other landscape plants with finer foliage. This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Aside from its primary use as an edible, the Hardy Kiwi is sutiable for the following landscape applications

  • Hedges/Screening
  • General Garden Use
  • Orchard/Edible Landscaping

The Hardy Kiwi will grow to be about 40 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 24 inches. As a climbing vine, it should be planted next to a fence, trellis or other rigid structure where it can be trained to grow upwards on it. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 15 years. This is a dioecious species, meaning that individual plants are either male or female. Only the females will produce fruit, and a male variety of the same species is required nearby as a pollinator.

This woody vine can be integrated into a landscape or flower garden by creative gardeners, but is usually grown in a designated edibles garden. It does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn't be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is not originally from North America.

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