Growing Kiwis in Nova Scotia

Kiwi flowers
Flowers on female Actinidia kolomikta

It’s the hardy kiwi, Actinidia kolomikta. The fruits are the size of a large grape, less fuzzy than their New Zealand cousins, and delicious, apparently. I’ve never eaten one or even seen one.

But I hope to soon! I’ve got a boy plant and a girl plant in the backyard, and they seem to like each other….

This kiwi is hardy to Zone 4 (we are in Zone 5b or 6a, warmer than Zone 4) and has a reputation for vigour. In fact, frequent pruning is required to train the vines properly and to help the plant concentrate its energy into growing fruit.

The vines need a sturdy structure to grow on, and it shouldn’t be too tall to reach for pruning, or you’ll lose the battle for fruit development. A strong timberframe trellis would be the ideal thing.

I’m training mine on the 10-ft high trunks of a cherry tree that I cut down last summer. (It was non-productive and besieged by cherry slugs, or sawfly larvae.)

I have a couple of friends in the area who are also excitedly growing hardy kiwi for the first time. One of these years, we’ll have our first taste of the fruit, if we can keep the squirrels and birds away from it.

4 Replies to “Growing Kiwis in Nova Scotia”

  1. Planted mine years ago and pruned it after a few years, which you are not supposed to do. Every year it flowered but no fruit so I was convinced that I had either planted two males or two females. Surprise today I discovered fruits . . small and tasty. Took ten years. I suspect that if it had not been so dry this summer I might have had more. Now the challenge is to keep the critters and the birds away . . .

    1. Quite the story, Jocelyne. I’m glad to hear you finally got fruits. Squirrels or something got the few tiny fruits that appeared in 2011, and I managed to taste one in 2012, though it never fully ripened. My male plant seems hardier than the female.

  2. Hi
    I would love an update on how your kiwi is doing. I’m considering planting a few plants in my back year on the peninsula this year.

    1. They’ve had more fruits every year. I had great hope for last year, but we had an unusually late (June) frost and I got zero fruit. The plentiful blossoms were killed by the frost. But every year comes with new hope. The foliage is pretty too; the male plants especially have variegated leaves. At first I thought the white was some fungus, but no, it’s natural. I’ve learned to pick the fruit a little bit early, because when they’re really ready to eat, they fall off. They’ll ripen in the house, like the big kiwis, and they taste the same.

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