Variegated and Hardy Kiwis

Variegated and Hardy Kiwis
Hardy Kiwi

Also called tara-vine, this relatively low chill species is very adaptable. It is the most widely grown species and is hardy in zones 4 through 8 (-25 degrees F.). The plant needs a minimum growing season of 150 days.
This species does well in the Northeast. Native to Asia, it resembles the Chinese gooseberry except for the smaller leaves, flowers, and fruits.

In cultivation since around 1874, the high climbing, deciduous, very vigorous vine is 20 to 40 feet in cultivation. The plant features reddish-purple leaf stalks. The hairy, finely toothed, shiny leaves are 3 to 6 inches long and almost as wide. Turning yellow in the Fall, the foliage can be oval, orbicular, ovate, or heart-shaped.

Appearing from May through July, depending on location, the axillary flower clusters can be hidden among the leave. These feature white to whitish-green petals, which later turn brown at the base. The blossoms contain deep purple anthers and green sepals.

Nearly an inch long, the greenish-yellow, almost globose, smooth skinned fruits are borne in clusters. They’re slightly sweeter tasting than the commercially grown kiwis.

Variegated Kiwi
Introduced around 1855 or so, variegated kiwi is hardy to zone 3 (-40 degrees F.). Native to China, Manchuria, and Japan, the smooth vine has rich brown stems that are typically 15 to 20 feet long. It is less vigorous than the hardy kiwi.

This species can be grown in areas with a short growing season, 130 days or so. The plant prefers some shade, especially in warm climates.

However, some full sun is needed in order to produce the vivid leaf variegation. The adaptable plant can be spaced 8 feet apart.

Variegated kiwi has very showy, multi-colored foliage with a mix of white, pink, green, and sometimes red. Male plants tend to be more colorful, especially if they’re grown in rocky soils. Avoid adding too much fertilizer as this can interfere with the leaf coloration. A number of varieties, are available, including September Sun.

The variegation begins appearing when the plants are a couple years old. The toothed, heart shaped to ovate leaves are 3 to 5 inches wide. The undersides are hairy.

The fragrant white blooms with yellow stamens can be solitary or in clusters of three. Emerging in May and June, they’re up to ¾ inch wide. The female plants bear inch long, ovoid to oblong, yellow to green fruits. Ripening from September on, these drop to the ground.

Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

Content copyright © 2023 by Connie Krochmal. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Connie Krochmal. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Krochmal for details.