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Growing kiwiberry in the home garden

Quick facts

  • Kiwiberry vines require moist, well-drained soil.

  • A vine will produce either male or female flowers. Plant one of each gender to get fruit.

  • One male vine provides enough pollen for up to 6 female vines.

  • Vines need to be pruned every winter and sheared during the growing season to keep them under control.

  • Expect to get fruit 3 to 5 years after planting.

  • The vines climb and should be planted near a sturdy support structure.

Branch with many kiwiberries

There are about 80 species of kiwi (in the genus Actinidia), which are native to the forests of eastern Asia. Species that can be grown in Minnesota are called "kiwiberry" because they produce grape-sized berries with a flavor similar to fuzzy kiwifruit, though a bit sweeter. Unlike the larger fuzzy kiwi, kiwiberries have thin, smooth skin and do not need to be peeled before eating.

Two species, Actinidia kolomikta and Actinidia arguta, can be grown for fruit in Minnesota and similar regions. A third species, Actinidia polygama, has an unusual spicy, green-pepper flavor that some people find too strong, so it is usually grown as an ornamental vine.

Kiwiberry vines have attractive foliage. In fact, for many years, fruitless varieties of these plants were grown in the U.S. strictly for ornamental use. The vigorous growth habit makes the vine perfect for growing on trellises, arbors, patio overheads, fences or walls. It’s only in the last few decades that people have begun to value the fruit.

Meet the Kiwiberry

Many aspects of kiwiberry production in Minnesota are still in the research phase. The region-specific growing recommendations on this page are based on our research to date. We will continue to update information as we discover more.

Selecting kiwiberry plants

Most kiwifruit plants are either male or female: the males supply the pollen and the females produce the berries. To get fruit you need to plant one of each. On a larger scale, you would plant one male vine for each 6 to 8 female vines.

Several named varieties of each species are available. New varieties will likely be available soon thanks to fruit breeding programs across the U.S.

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Care through the seasons

Things to do When to do them
Plant kiwiberry vines in spring after the threat of frost is past. May
Control weeds throughout the growing season. May through September
Tie new growth to trellis as needed. May through August
Prune excessive non-fruiting “explorer” shoots. June to early July
Harvest mature berries. Timing depends on variety. July through October
Clean up any fallen fruit to prevent Spotted Wing Drosophila. August through October
Prune dormant vines in late fall after soil freezes and before significant snowfall. November

Planting and caring for plants

Several Minnesota retail nurseries sell kiwiberry vines. Plants can also be ordered from many nurseries online, and are usually shipped dormant and bare-root. Remember to buy a male vine and a female vine. 

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Training and pruning

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Follow kiwiberry research

Keep up with the latest kiwiberry research on the University of Minnesota Fruit Research site and follow @umnfruit on Instagram.

UMN Fruit Research

Emily Hoover, Extension horticulture specialist; Jim Luby, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; Bob Guthrie, volunteer kiwiberry curator; Emily Tepe, researcher; Seth Wannemuehler, graduate student

Reviewed in 2019

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