Caring For Kiwi: How To Grow Hardy Red Kiwi Fruit

Do you like the taste of kiwi fruit, but aren't crazy about the fuzz? The Hardy Red kiwi (Actinidia purpurea) produces grape-sized, fuzz-less fruit with an authentic kiwi flavor. Unlike their fuzzy cousins, hardy kiwi can survive temperatures as low as -25 degrees F. (-32 C.). Plus, the attractive Hardy Red kiwi vine makes the perfect canopy crop for a veranda or pergola.

How to Grow Hardy Red Kiwi

Like all species of kiwi, Hardy Red requires both a male and female plant to produce fruit. These deciduous climbing vines can reach 30 feet (9 m.) and bear fruit on second-year wood. A sturdy trellis or arbor is required to support the vines.

Hardy Red kiwi vine can be started from seed by sowing indoors in late spring. Although mature vines are winter-hardy, new growth can be damaged by frost. Keep seedlings well-ventilated to prevent damping off. When propagating by seed, gardeners should expect a higher ratio of male to female vines.

Fresh kiwi seeds can also be started in the fall. Germination rates with fresh seed are generally faster with sprouts appearing two to three months after sowing. A fall-started vine requires overwintering inside a greenhouse. Seedlings can be transplanted into a permanent location after the danger of frost passes in late spring or early summer.

Kiwis can be propagated from cuttings, which allows gardeners to obtain a higher ratio of female vines. Cuttings can be taken anytime during the growing season but starting semi-woody cuttings in July or August offers the most success.

Hardy Red kiwi fruit prefers a consistently moist soil with good drainage. Avoid planting the crowns where the soil remains soggy or becomes overly dry. A rich loam with plenty of sunlight is ideal for these perennial vines. Hardy Red can be grown in partial shade, but fruit yields will be lower.

Caring for this kiwi is not difficult, as Hardy Red has no reported disease or pest issues. It's resistant to honey fungus and easily pollinated by bees and other insects.

Prune lightly in the winter to maintain shape and control vines. Heavy pruning can reduce fruiting the following season.

Hardy Red Kiwi Fruit

It takes three to four years for Hardy Red to begin producing, but it's well worth the wait. The bite-sized fruit has a sweeter flavor than the larger species of kiwis. The red flesh contains small edible seeds, as do all kiwis, but the cranberry red skin is smooth and tender. No peeling is necessary with these kiwis, simply pop them in your mouth like grapes.

Hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, the female Hardy Red kiwi vine produces fragrant white flowers in May. The fruit ripens between September and October in most areas. Gardeners can expect to harvest 100 pounds (45 kg.) or more of delicious fruit once the vines have matured.

Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.