Planting and Pruning Kiwi

By on February 21, 2012

Plant a kiwi vine for loads of fruit

Not all kiwis are fuzzy. There’s your fun fruit fact for the day!

Hardy kiwi vines, like the Issai kiwi we carry, will produce smooth, not fuzzy, fruit in a range of climates in USDA zones 4-9. Issai is also a convenient vine since it is self-fruitful (meaning it produces both male and female flowers).

Want the familiar fuzz? Find those on our tender kiwi vines. Even the tender vines need some winter chill, so they do best in USDA zones 7-9. You’ll need at least one male and one female vine for pollination.

Planting Kiwi

Watch Tricia plant kiwis in our video and see her tips on growing this satisfying fruit.

Remember, the prime requirements for kiwis are good drainage and ample water. Pull any perennial weeds from the site. In our video about growing kiwis Tricia added a sprinkler to her drip irrigation system to give her vine the moist, but not waterlogged, soil it needs for good root growth. Water is key for kiwis to bear their heavy crops.

Even though the Issai vines are winter hardy while dormant, in their youth those vines can be winter killed. In the wintertime it’s a good idea to wrap the trunk of the hardy kiwi vine while it is 1 - 4 years old.

Kiwi vines will cooperate with a number of trellising styles. You can plant them at the corners of a large arbor, train them along trellises, or grow them espalier style along fences. Choose your support system and install it before you plant the kiwi vines. The hardy kiwi vines we carry are moderately vigorous and will grow about 6’ - 12’ a year, much less than their fuzzy cousins that can grow as much as 30’ in a year.

Training & pruning kiwi vines on a t-bar trellis

Kiwi T-Bar Trellis

All kiwi vines need strong support since they can produce 50 - 100 pounds of fruit each year! Our video shows you examples of trellis systems. The Oregon State University Extension has more details on exact measurements for trellises.

Espalier Kiwi Diagram

Training & pruning kiwi vines espalier style

If you prefer to grow in a flat, espalier style, train and prune kiwis along horizontally spaced wires with lateral canes growing upright along the horizontal branches (called cordons).

Here are tips for that growing style (known as the bilateral cordon system):

*  Your first job is to help the vine develop one, straight trunk by tying it loosely to a stake as it grows. This is the major growth of the first year. If side branches reach the level of the first wire supports, you can leap ahead and begin the training that usually occurs in the second season.

*  The second season of growth is when you want to encourage two arms (or cordons) on opposite sides of the vine. When you have two good shoots reach the first level of wire, drape one in each direction on top of the wire and tie them loosely.

* Allow new shoots to grow from the cordons, and train them toward upper wires, being careful not to let them wrap around the wires.

* Prune these cordons and the lateral canes in the dormant season back to wood that is 1/4” or larger in diameter.

*  In the third season train the lateral shoots perpendicular to the cordons. You do not want them to be parallel to the cordons because they would block the sunlight.

* Do your dormant pruning in the third season to leave 15 - 20 lateral canes across the cordons of the vine. The kiwi fruit will grow on the canes from the previous year.

*  By the fourth year your kiwi vine structure will be in place.

Dormant pruning for mature kiwi vines

When the kiwi vines reach their fourth year the dormant pruning (in winter) will be a regular process of renewing fruiting canes. The pruning becomes more complicated in a mature vine and is well explained by the the Oregon State University Extension article. If you grow muscadine grapes, you will note that the technique for pruning kiwi vines is the same.

For more information consult our Kiwi Planting & Growing Guide, and see Oregon State’s thorough article on growing kiwis.

  Comments (26)


How much sunlight is required?
Do I need a male & female plant?
I have had a vine planted for seven years now.
The vine has grown well but no fruit! Not a one.

Posted by Pat on Feb. 25, 2012 at 7:47:08 AM

Pat, Kiwis like full sun. You do not need a male and female with Issai Hardy Kiwi because it is self-fruitful. See our Kiwi Growing Guide for more information Lack of fruit probably means lack of phosphorus. Get a soil test near the kiwi vine to see if you need any organic supplements This article from Oregon State is full of valuable information about growing kiwis

Posted by on Jan. 28, 2013 at 12:41:47 AM


If I have a Issai Hardy Kiwi, will the male flower

Posted by Deb on Apr. 25, 2014 at 1:00:31 PM

Hello Deb,

Your comment went in the name box and you got cut off. Are you wondering if hardy kiwis pollinate female fuzzy kiwis? The answer is yes, as long as the bloom times overlap.

Posted by on Apr. 25, 2014 at 3:30:58 PM


Hi Charlotte,

How for apart should the posts be? I’ll be planting a female and male side-by-side along a wood fence, while keeping airspace between the vine and the fence. The vine will be east facing behind raised veggie beds and will get sun from noon until the sun is on the other side of the fence.All suggestions are welcome!

Posted by Cory from San Diego on May. 12, 2014 at 11:10:35 AM

Hello Cory,

It depends on how you choose to prune the vines. If you espalier the vines then I would leave two feet or so from the fence and the trellis, enough for you to walk behind and prune or pick fruit.

Posted by on May. 13, 2014 at 8:52:27 AM


How deep do I plant them

Posted by Staci Rall's on Jun. 25, 2014 at 3:29:09 PM

Hello Staci,

Look for the soil line on the plant and plant it to the same level.

Posted by on Jun. 30, 2014 at 9:20:38 AM


I’d like to optimize the edible output from my modest-sized urban garden.  Can a large pergola be planted with both a grape vine and a hardy kiwi vine, or will they compete too much with each other?

Posted by Audrone in Ohio on Jan. 06, 2015 at 5:29:32 AM

I am afraid that they would compete with each other. Kiwis are very prolific growers and may choke out the grapes and even if the grape survives, the clusters benefit from the sun, and they would get shaded out.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Jan. 09, 2015 at 1:16:47 PM


Do the vines have thorns or have any sharp pointy things?

Posted by Coleen on Nov. 14, 2015 at 4:36:27 PM

The kiwis that we sell do not have thorns. They are a great plant to have in your edible landscape!

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Nov. 18, 2015 at 12:32:11 PM


Would they grow in Reno, Nevada elevation 5000 ft.
avg 10 degrees at night (winter)

Posted by Becky on Dec. 11, 2015 at 6:23:56 PM


How deep and wide of a planting hole do I need? My surrounding soil is terrible.

Posted by Tim on Dec. 12, 2015 at 8:33:48 AM


Will these vines survive the heat of Phoenix?

Posted by Bob Z on Dec. 12, 2015 at 9:01:35 AM


Will these grow in north douglas county oregon, how many years does it take to have the first fruit harvest

Posted by gerald crosby on Dec. 12, 2015 at 9:06:51 AM


I ordered hardy kiwi vines for a Christmas gift for my bf. Should I pot them, for now, and plant them outside in the spring so the winter chill doesn’t kill them? I know they need some chill but I’m afraid that they will be stressed from shipment and will die. Help please! I do not have the Issai, I got 1 hardy make in a quart pot and 2 smaller females.

Posted by Anna on Dec. 12, 2015 at 9:47:08 AM


Question….will this kiwi
survive a Montana winter?

Posted by Elena on Dec. 12, 2015 at 10:46:21 AM


How would these do in San Antonio, Tx.  How long before vines bear fruit? Which variety best for my locale?

Posted by Alice on Dec. 12, 2015 at 9:33:28 PM

The Hardy Issai kiwi is listed to grow down to zone 4. You will need to protect the plant until it gets established. You will want to protect with a frost blanket until the plant gets big enough to withstand freezing temperatures.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Dec. 14, 2015 at 9:28:48 AM

Tim, you can did a hole twice as wide as you need, and deeper than what you are planting to. Then you can amend the soil that you dig up with some compost. Plant your kiwi at the same depth as it was in the pot.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Dec. 14, 2015 at 9:35:24 AM

Bob, not sure what your usda zone is for Phoenix, but the tender kiwi will grow in zones 8-9 and the hardy issai will grow in zones 4-9.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Dec. 14, 2015 at 9:39:07 AM

Gerald, the hardy issai kiwi will grow in zones 4-9 and the tender kiwi in zones 8-9. Not sure what your usda zone is but I would choose according to the recommended zones. The vines will begin to fruit 2-6 years after you plant them.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Dec. 14, 2015 at 9:41:30 AM

Anna, if you live somewhere that the ground freezes in the winter, you can just leave them in the pots they are in until you are ready to plant them. The Issai is a hardy kiwi but should be protected from freezing temperatures with a frost blanket. Especially if the vine looks like it is coming out of dormancy, it will need frost protection. The hardy Issai bears both male and female flowers so you don’t need a pollinator.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Dec. 14, 2015 at 9:46:31 AM

Elena, the Hardy Issai kiwi is hardy down to usda zone 4. The plants are very frost tolerant in full dormancy, but can be damaged if a hard freeze occurs once the vine has started to break dormancy. It is recommended you wrap young vines in a frost blanket if a hard freeze is expected once the vine has started to break dormancy. I would not recommend the tender kiwi, they are hardy to zones 8-9.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Dec. 14, 2015 at 9:49:33 AM

Alice, the Hardy Issai kiwi will grow in zones 4-9 and the Tender kiwi in zones 8-9. Not sure what your usda zone is but I would choose according to the recommended zones. The vines will begin to fruit 2-6 years after you plant them.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Dec. 14, 2015 at 9:51:05 AM

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