Intro to Kiwis

Intro to Kiwis
At least three species of kiwi vines are widely cultivated. These are well worth growing for a number of reasons. Some have ornamental value in addition to bearing edible fruits. If pollinated properly, a mature female plant can produce a hundred pounds or so of fruits annually.

The long lived plants (fifty years or more) are also suitable choices for pollinator gardens. The male plants are sources of pollen, while the females yield nectar.

The kiwis are generally considered rambling or climbing, twining, deciduous vines. However, a few sources refer to them as shrubs. These are related to camellias. Over twenty species are native to Asia.

General Description

These can be very aggressive, fast growing vines. If left unpruned, the stems can easily grow 15 to 20 feet in a single growing season. They will climb 20 to 50 feet or so on any support available or sprawl on the ground if necessary. The hairy, light brown branches are typically gnarly.

Bronze when they initially emerge, the alternate, green leaves feature gray veins. They’re downy and lighter colored beneath. Sometimes, the edges are toothed. The foliage can turn vivid yellow in Autumn.

Usually, most plants will have either male or female blossoms. However, certain varieties are self fertile with both types of blooms on the same plant. Most plant catalogs specify whether each variety is male or female since gardeners must plant both a male and female kiwi for fruit production.

Kiwi blossoms can appear solitary or in axillary cymes. These emerge during the Spring according to the species being grown and the climate. The lovely, dainty, white to cream, scented flowers are sometimes concealed among the foliage. They have a rose-like to cup-like shape and are 1½ to two inches wide.

Containing five to six petals, the blooms deepen to yellow as they age and develop brown center as they age. Flowering can last for about ten days or so. These are borne on the side shoots or on the spurs of the previous year’s growth.

Both types of flowers contain a mass of stamens in the center of the flowers even though the pistillate or females bear no pollen.

Usually, home grown kiwis will be smaller than the commercial ones, reaching the size of a kumquat. The fruits are actually many seeded berries with the seeds embedded in the flesh. Initially yellow and gold, these later turn black as the fruits mature and ripen.

Kiwi fruits are borne in clusters. The ones with fuzzy skins remain on the plant when ripe, while the others drop when ripe. Initially, the kiwis have a reddish caste. However, the skin color and appearance of the fruit can vary according to the species. All species feature green flesh.

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