Kiwi Question

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May 19, 2009

Kiwi Question

Kiwi Question

Dear Diana,
I hope you can help me. I would like to grow kiwis. How can I do this? I live in Southeastern Tennessee.
Thanks,

Deb

Hi Deb,
Judging by where you live, I don't think growing kiwis should be any problem. 
You will need a male and a female plant to produce fruit - although there are some varieties which are supposed to be self fertile, I personally have never known one to produce fruit. 
Kiwis are frost tender (especially when young), so if you have winter frosts you must protect the plants either by wrapping in horticultural fleece if your winters are not severe, or by taking pots into a greenhouse or conservatory if you do have prolonged cold spells.
Kiwis are more or less like vines - so ideally will need a framework to grow up - a fence, a pergola or even an arbor would be nice as the plants have big handsome furry leaves.
If you buy a couple of plants from a specialist grower I'm sure they will give you detailed advice as to how best to look after them, for example www.raintreenursery.com has great information. 
A general tip is (as with all plants or trees from which you want a good crop of fruit or flowers) is to tie the branches (gently!)  down so they are growing horizontally - this slows the movement of sap and encourages them to fruit. 
This method is called ‘espalier’ –by inserting a cane into the ground next to the plant (or by using a trellis in the pot) and tying the branch to it you can gradually change the angle of it over time to become more horizontal as it grows.
The espaliered method is used for roses, apples and most fruit.
Do see if you can grow some kiwis, the fruit is so delicious and I'm sure you will be successful.
Happy Horticulture,
Diana