Have you ever considered growing your own kiwifruit? There are two main types of kiwi plants that can be grown in the home garden: one that is better suited for colder regions and the other for warmer, frost-free areas. Learn how to plant, grow, and harvest kiwis in your garden!
Did you know that these tasty and nutrient-packed fruits grow on a vine and aren’t native to New Zealand?
In fact, the kiwifruit plant (Actinidia deliciosa) originally stems from temperate parts of southwestern China and was traditionally known in English as the “Chinese gooseberry.” In the early 20th century, the plant was exported to Europe, the United States, and New Zealand, where the vast majority of kiwifruit is grown today.
Hardy kiwi (A. arguta), on the other hand, is native to northern China, Japan, and the Korean peninsula.
Types of Kiwifruit
There are two main types of kiwi plants that can be grown in home gardens: the kiwifruit (A. deliciosa) and the hardy kiwi or kiwiberry (A. arguta, A. kolomikta). The kiwifruit is the type that most of us are familiar with; it produces those fuzzy brown fruit that are about the size of an extra-large chicken egg. The hardy kiwi, on the other hand, produces smooth, green, grape-sized fruit, which is why it also goes by the name “kiwiberry.” The flavor is said to be sweeter than that of the larger kiwifruit. Some species of hardy kiwis, like A. kolomikta, are grown mainly for their attractive, pink-variegated foliage and fragrant flowers.
Aside from the difference in their fruits, the plants also differ in terms of hardiness. As its name suggests, the hardy kiwi does best in colder areas (USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 7) and is even capable of surviving subzero temperatures, while the kiwifruit should be grown in regions where frost is infrequent (Zones 8 to 9). That being said, the fruit and flowers of both types are very susceptible to spring and fall frosts, so this plant is best grown in areas that have a frost-free growing season of at least 200 days.
Note: If you are considering growing kiwifruit in your garden, know that both a male and a female plant are required to produce fruit. The male plant produces flowers, while the female plant produces both flowers and fruit. (However, there is one reportedly self-fertile variety of hardy kiwi called ‘Issai’, if you only have space for one plant!)