Kiwi Berries (Arctic Kiwi)


Hello, We inherited (from a previous home owner) an Arctic Kiwi. Initially didn’t have a clue what it was, but it’s now 20 years with us in Newmarket (GTA-Hope this is ok…?) & producing an ever growing volume of berries every year. The size has increased from pea sized berries to start with 18 or so years ago to ones that are as large as the end of my thumb now. We are thinking of moving & want to either try to do a cutting, or possibly digging them up to take with us. Would you, could you, advise us of how to proceed. Or should it even be attempted? Regards, Patricia C
P.S. It has gotten so large that it took over a full grown, but dying apricot tree next to it that we had to finally have removed, so would also like advice on pruning.


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners

Actinidia kolomikta, or Arctic kiwi is a hardy kiwi that is a relative of the tender kiwi fruit that is commercially available in stores.  Actinidia arguta is another hardy kiwi grown in our climate. Hardy kiwi fruit is about the size of a large grape and is also edible with its relatively smooth skin and good shelf life.  The fruit grows on a twining woody vine with attractive foliage and flowers that bloom in spring.  As you know, the vine grows rapidly and can be very useful for covering a trellis, fence or wall.

The plant has some characteristics that are important to know when growing.  Most varieties of hardy kiwis are dioecious meaning different plants produce male and female flowers so that at least one male pollinator is needed for fruit to set on female vines.  The vines are very hardy and can tolerate cold temperatures, but the early shoots that grow in the spring are quite sensitive to frost and may “burn” if exposed.  This doesn’t usually kill the plant.  New plants take about 5-9 years to bear fruit.

If you want to move the plant to your new home, the simplest way is to dig up some of the existing plant after cutting back the top growth so that you can handle it easily.  You will want to dig up as much of the root as possible trying not to disturb the soil.

Transplanting is best done in the early spring after the risk of frost has passed to allow the root system to establish before winter and promote growth.

For planting, the vine is best grown in fertile, well-drained soil in part sun to part shade with medium moisture.  Ensure that there is good air circulation around the plant and mulch the base of each vine.  Plant just deep enough to cover the roots well with soil and water well.  Fertilizer should be only cautiously added in order not to burn the roots.

To control the growth of this fast growing vine, pruning is recommended including late fall or winter that takes each stem back to 8-10 shoots. New fruiting canes will develop at the base of last year’s growth and older wood rarely produces flowers.  In summer very long shoots can be cut back to 4-6 leaves beyond the last flower.  During the growing season remove watersprouts (young shoots coming from older wood) and shoots from the trunk as well as vines that become entangled.  Training the vine is also recommended.  A pergola can be ideal for this purpose.

For further reading:

January 27, 2021