Kiwifruit, previously known as Chinese gooseberries, are long-lived perennial vines. The plants are male or female, requiring one male plant to pollinate approximately eight female plants. Male plants do not produce fruit and grow vigorously, but severe pruning after flowering will keep them under control. Kiwi plants require a trellis or arbor to support the vine and its prolific fruit. Trim the kiwifruit after planting to train the vines onto the trellis, during the dormant season and during the summer.
Training Kiwifruit Vines
Plant the kiwi vine at the center of the trellis and allow the vine to grow straight up to the middle wire. Pinch off the terminal bud to encourage lateral growth. Select two buds to encourage down the middle wire; these will become the permanent branches.
Select fruiting branches about every two feet on the permanent branches during the second year. Tie these canes to the outer wires. Shoots from these branches will bear fruit. Remove other shoots.
Pinch the new shoots off the fruiting branches back to six leaves in the spring. As the summer progresses, pinch away new shoots, leaving only enough to replace shoots that are no longer bearing fruit.
Cut back the two-year-old fruiting shoots during dormant pruning in the winter. Kiwis bear fruit on new growth, so prune heavily, removing at least 50 percent of the old growth. Leave two to three fruiting shoots from the previous summer.
Trim female kiwifruit plants during the dormant season in late February. The main trunk and leaders trained down the center wire are not pruned unless they become damaged or weak. Prune the remaining shoots yearly during the dormant season. Do not trim male plants during the dormant season.
Remove twisted or broken wood. Remove most of the fruiting shoots from the previous year, leaving a few. Remove canes that are too close together.
Prune back healthy one-year-old canes that have not fruited, leaving eight buds. Leave a few short fruiting branches for fruit production. Remember, most fruit is produced on new growth, so do not be afraid to cut the vine back severely.
Spring and Summer Pruning
Inspect the trunk for damage in the spring. If the trunk is damaged so that the bark is completely removed, you will need to prune the plant below the damage and allow the vine to regrow and replace the damaged trunk. Train the new growth as you would a newly planted vine.
Remove shoots that do not have buds just before the flowers open. Cut back flowering shoots to four to six leaves past the last flower. Remove the tips of shoots that are not needed.
Prune male plants after flowering. Cut the shoots back to new growth near the leader.
About this Author
Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.