How to Trellis Hardy Kiwifruit

The hardy kiwi is a native of northern China and Siberia, as well as Korea and possibly Japan. A fast-growing perennial vine, it produces grape-sized or slightly larger smooth-skinned fruits. The long, heavy vines and large leaf mass require a sturdy trellis or arbor; in the wild, this vine may grow 100 feet up into trees.


Where to Grow Hardy Kiwifruit

Like its more familiar grocery store cousin the fuzzy-skinned kiwifruit, hardy kiwifruit will do well in USDA Zones 7 through 9. However, this form of the plant can tolerate much colder temperatures when dormant. Hardy kiwifruit are grown in Zones 3 to 6. They require winter chill for proper fruiting and can withstand temperatures down to -25°F (-32°C).

Hardy Kiwifruit Varieties

You have a number of choices when selecting cultivars. Most require both male and female plants for proper pollination – usually one male to eight females. However, the first two varieties on the list are self-fruitful.

  • Issai
  • 19-40B
  • Ananasnaja (Anna)
  • Cordifolia
  • Dumbarton Oaks
  • Geneva
  • Ken’s Red
  • Michigan State
  • Red Princess
  • Meader.

Growing Hardy Kiwifruit

Hardy kiwifruit are not difficult to grow if you meet their basic needs. Although they prefer a slightly acidic soil, they will grow in most soil types. However, the soil must drain well, and kiwifruit should never be grown in soils that can become waterlogged. Full sun is required, as is regular watering. The vines should be fertilized every two months during the growing season.

Trellising Hardy Kiwifruit

The two most common methods of trellising hardy kiwifruit are vertical posts or T-shaped posts made of wood or metal. Heavy wire is strung between the posts. In both cases, braces or guy wires should be used to anchor the posts and help support the weight of the heavy vines. Posts must be sunk deep enough that they will not pull over in wet soils.

Training the Vines

The trellis is the first part of the equation, but proper pruning is also critical for hardy kiwifruit. The vine should be trained to a single trunk as high as the trellis. Select two main branches to become the scaffold from which side branches grow at well-spaced intervals. Kiwifruit are produced on new wood, so you must prune back these lateral branches each winter.

Other Options

In addition to a trellis, you can grow kiwifruit on an arbor. An arbor 12 feet long and six feet wide will support one vine. Make sure the vertical posts are sunk deeply – about three feet for an arbor eight feet in height. If using wood, it should be pressure-treated or naturally rot-resistant. Upright posts should be 4 X 4 inches; horizontal supports can be 2 X 6 inches.