Kiwifruit (also known as Chinese gooseberry) are produced on large, rambling, deciduous vines that need the support of a trellis or framework of wires. They can also be espaliered against a wall.

Kiwifruit has separate male and female flowers on separate plants. For fruit production, one male vine is needed for up to nine female vines.

When planting allow 5-6 metres between plants so they have space to reach their mature size. It can take several years for vines to reach maturity and begin to fruit.

Vines flower in spring and are both bee and wind pollinated. Fruit is produced on female vines and is ripe in autumn or early winter. To assess ripeness, cut open large, well-coloured fruit. It should be sweet, bright green inside and have small black seeds if it is ripe.

Bare-rooted plants are widely available in winter when they are dormant. Potted plants may be available in spring.

Growing conditions

Aspect Sunshine and warmth is vital so select a protected, north-facing spot with shelter from cold winds.

Soil Any deep well-drained suits but slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH of 5-7) is ideal. Add well-rotted organic matter such as Seasol Super Compost before planting. Dig it in thoroughly.

Climate These plants grow from cool regions to the subtropics. The plants need a period of winter chilling (400-700 hours below 7C) to initiate flowering. Hot summer temperatures may also reduce fruit formation.

General care

Watering Kiwifruit benefit from deep watering as plants regain their leaves, at flowering and fruit set and during extended dry periods. Cut back on watering after harvest and through the winter dormancy.

Feeding and mulching Feed in late winter or early spring and throughout the growing season by applying a complete fertiliser for fruiting plants such as Seasol plus Nutrient Fruit & Citrus. Supplement with a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES Fruit & Citrus every 2 to 4 weeks during the growing period (spring to autumn). Mulch under vines and keep the area clear of grass and weeds.

Training and pruning Kiwifruit grow rapidly through spring and summer putting on canes up to 5m long. These vines can become tangled and need to be trained onto their supports. Prune kiwi fruit in winter to maintain a central stem and several major horizontal branches. Prune after harvest cutting back long stems to maintain several horizontal branches. Flowers and fruit are produced on one-year-old wood.

Watch out Kiwifruit may be attacked by possums and birds. Use bird-safe netting as fruit begins to ripen.