A Few Facts About Kiwi Trees
When we see kiwi fruit in the supermarket we may envision then growing on kiwi trees, just as oranges and lemons grow on orange and lemon trees, respectively. The kiwi fruit is grown in New Zealand, and is so named as it resembles the national bird of New Zealand, the kiwi. Both the bird and the fruit are fuzzy and somewhat pear-shaped. The bird by the way, has a long beak and no wings.
Fuzzy And Packed With Nutrition - Kiwi fruit is brown and fuzzy, or hairy if you prefer. Inside the brown peel is the green flesh within which will be found black seeds, which are also edible. The fruit is sweet tasting, a bit like a mixed pineapple and strawberry. Some varieties are said to have a peach-like flavor. Kiwi fruit is very rich in dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E. The seeds are rich in one of the Omega-3 fatty acids, and are often crushed to produce a nutritious oil. The fruit, as healthy as it is, is known to be allergic to some individuals.
It's Really A Vine - Kiwi trees are not native to New Zealand however, but are instead native to China. The tree was introduced to New Zealand in the early 20th century where the fruit got the name we know it by. To set the record straight it should also be noted that kiwi trees are not trees, but woody vines. Most people refer to them as trees however. If you are about to pick fresh kiwi fruit it won't be under a tree, but more than likely under a trellis that is supporting the vines. In its wild state, one variety of the kiwi vine can grow to over 100 feet in length.
There are a number of varieties of the kiwi plant, which come in both male and female types. There are also hybrids which are of both sexes. In the United States we are most familiar with the kiwi fruit from kiwi trees (or vines) growing in warmer climates. There is a hardy kiwi plant which can be grown in the northern states and in Canada, but the fruit is much smaller, though no less tasty, than the lemon-sized samples we see in the supermarkets. While planting and cultivating requirements for kiwi trees can vary somewhat among the different cultivars or varieties, a few general rules can be stated which apply for most varieties.
Give Plenty Of Nitrogen And Water - Almost all varieties of kiwi trees do best when planted in full sun, though they will do well in partial shade also. If you are growing your own, plan on providing the vine something rather substantial to climb on, a trellis may be constructed specifically to support the vines, though a sturdy patio roof may suffice. The plant prefers a somewhat acidic soil. If the soil becomes alkaline the plant, which is a nitrogen lover, may exhibit signs of a nitrogen deficiency. Normally, kiwi trees are given a heavy dose of nitrogen in early spring and additional feedings during the growing season. The proportion of nitrogen in the fertilizer applied is lessened as the fruits mature. Excessive nitrogen at this stage is though to negatively affect the storage characteristics of the fruit. Water is a must. The soil must be kept moist, though well drained. Kiwi trees are not at all drought tolerant and will quickly die if allowed to become too dry.
Pruning Is Essential - It will take up to five years for a kiwi plant to begin to set fruit, and to get a good crop, an annual pruning is needed. Pruning is always done during the winter dormant season. Lateral canes from the main stem will send out new shoots which are, at the end of the season, pruned back to about a third of their length. Older canes are pruned off where they connect to the previous year’s new shoots. This process is repeated each year.
Kiwi trees are generally considered to be relatively disease and pest free. Given proper soil to start with, periodic applications of nitrogen-rich fertilizer, and adequate moisture at all times, coupled with the annual pruning, you should be able to enjoy a bounty of kiwi fruit each and every year.