The kiwi plant is a China native that is referred to as the "Chinese gooseberry" and "Yang-tao." This exotic plant is a woody, climbing shrub with a vigorous growth habit. It develops large, rich-green foliage that takes on an almost oval shape. A dioecious plant, the kiwi blooms fragrant, cream-colored flowers and produces oblong shaped fruit. The kiwi plant is a cold hardy plant that requires slow adjustments to temperature variations. The plant also requires a minimum of 240 frost-free days for successful fruit production.
Identify a well-drained, nutrient-rich planting location for the kiwi plant. Select a location with a trellis system to support the growth of the vines, such as a patio, trellis, or installed T-bar. Ensure that the location is a warm, sunny one that receives at least eight hours of full sunlight each day.
Dig a hole for the kiwi plant that is just slightly larger than the size of the root ball. Incorporate an equal amount of organic matter into the soil that is removed from the hole. Use manure as recommended by the Burnt Ridge Nursery. Measure the balance of manure and the removed soil by sight, where the soil is equivalent to or slightly more than the compost. Position the kiwi plant in the center of the hole and fill the hole with the prepared soil. Make sure that no bare roots are exposed. Irrigate the newly planted kiwi plant deeply to eliminate any air pockets that may rest around the roots.
Train the kiwi plant to grow straight up the trellis with one main trunk. Trim back the side branches and wire the main leader to the trellis with a straight framework. Cut the back the vine during the early spring. Leave no more than 20 buds on each vine. Train the vines to extend up and around the trellis, as desired. Remove cordons, damaged canes and wood using sterile, sharp shears.
Irrigate the kiwi plant regularly throughout the growing season at least once or twice per week. Adjust the irrigation levels for periods of drought and heavy rainfall.
Feed the kiwi plant in the early spring and early summer only. Use a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 combination. Distribute the fertilizer evenly around the base of the vine. Irrigate the fertilizer thoroughly into the soil. Avoid late fertilizer applications to allow the wood ample time to harden before the first frost.
Protect the planting location of the kiwi plant. Keep the area free of weeds and other competitive vegetation. Apply a layer of mulch around the kiwi's planting area. Include a 2- to 3-inch diameter around the plant. Keep the mulch at least one foot away from the base of the vine to prevent root rot.