Hardy vs. Arctic Kiwi

buckyz4May 10, 2012

My wife has been wanting to grow Kiwi. She bought a male and a female, but the female (September Sun) was an arctic kiwi and the male was a hardy kiwi (unnamed) so we bought 2 more a female hardy (Kens Red) and an arctic male (pasha) so now I have all my bases covered. What is the difference between a hardy and arctic kiwi and can they pollinate each other or did I need 2 males, one of each kind? A third variety we may try is Michigan State hardy. Any thoughts on any of those varieties would be appreciated.


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Not sure I can answer your question, but would like to mention how difficult it has been to get an Arctic kiwi to fruit and flower. We have had one male and two females that appear very healthy, but have yet to flower after ten years. We have many other fruits and berries that produce well. Only the kiwis won't fruit. From what I've read, many others have the same challenges with kiwis.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 7:30AM
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Buckyz4...... in a normal year the Arctic Kiwi (A. Kolomikta) will flower well before the hardy kiwi (A. Arguta) so the blooms don't normally overlap for pollination. Mind you this year with all the frost damage that occurred on several occasions everything reset and my arguta's and kolomikta's are both blooming now at the same time.

The difference between them is size of fruit. The kolomikta's are the smallest kiwi grown.. about the width of your pinky finger. They also have more of a tender skin similar to the 'Issai' variety. Arguta's such as Ken's Red are the size of a large grape. MSU you mentioned has a bit larger fruit for an arguta. Google will show you images for comparison. I've only tasted a couple of the argutas and didn't find a difference taste wise. I've read the Ken's Red do taste better than the green argutas but mine hasn't fruited yet to confirm.

Capoman... that is very odd your's hasn't flowered yet??? I have 2 females and a male and they were all blooming in the pots when bought from the nursery. And they were only 3 feet tall maybe?? Are you getting hit by frost every year that wipes out the buds??? That doesn't sound right you aren't getting anything after 10 years if in fact it is the Arctic Kiwi (Kolomikta) variety.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 9:30AM
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alan haigh

There are kolomitka's that size as well as the best argutas but they still leaf out too early for me and have no advantage as far as fruit quality or winter survival in my Z6 where my argutas have survived -22.

Ken's Red has a rep for not being hardy enough for Z5, I think.

The problem with kiwis is that the bees don't like them so even if you have the male situation covered the bees may not cooperate.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 9:45AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

I agree with Harvestman that the bees don't like the flowers. I've got a variety of pollinators flying around my garden, and I never saw one on a kiwi flower. I suspect there is some wind pollination going on, because I get good fruit set. I made a weak attempt at hand pollinating, just by rubbing a branch of male flowers against the female flowers, but there was good set even on flowers I couldn't get to that way.

WRT flowering time, an interesting anecdote: A friend of mine had his male kiwi in a pot for a couple years, and it flowered. He planted it in the ground a few years ago, and hasn't flowered since, despite growing well. Considering what Tyler wrote above, it seems like being potbound may cause flowering at a young age, but I don't know what the reason would be. Anyone have an idea about that?


    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 10:40AM
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glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

I have a lot of kolomikta kiwi growing around my property that I start from cuttings and they all seem to flower the next year even though some of them are less than 2 feet tall! the argutas on the other hand take years before they flower and are not as hardy. I get absolutely zero die back on kolomikta even if I over fertilize and get a lot of vigorous grow late into the season.I get some die back on the tender new growth of argutas if I give them too much love.I have lost argutas to root rot, no kolomiktas lost this far.It is an advantage to grow the different varieties because of the different bloom times. If by chance frost or several days of heavy rain during bloom can wipe out the kiwi crop for the year.My kolomiktas survived several days of light frost last week, many were zapped but alot made it and are starting to bloom ,we will get kolomiktas this year but no argutas as my main arguta male decided it was going to die this year :( So we won't be getting any more argutas for probably another 4 to 6 years as my back up males are only 2 year olds. I may try grafting a few males to the large female vines to try and speed things up.
But if you have the choice for only one seeing you are in zone 4 Wisconsin,I would concentrate my efforts on the more hardy and precocious kolomikta and enjoy eating the fruits while waiting for the argutas to come into bearing.
Tyler it is good to see you back on here!how are your kiwis doing?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 9:31PM
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Hi Glenn..
I lost my meader female and 3/4's of my anna from some kind of rot at the base of the trunk. Rabbits also chewed off a couple vines I planted last year down to about 6" this winter combined with the repeated frosts I'm not sure they are going to sprout new shoots from the roots.

I won't have many argutas fruiting this year... some dumbarton's oaks and anna have a few flower buds but not many. I was surprised how many buds the kolomitka still pushed out after a couple damaging frosts. Growth was completely killed twice and yet it still is flowering.

I had 2 male chinensis (Zespri Gold seedlings) flower in my greenhouse and they are only 3 years old so that was a pleasant surprise.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 8:04AM
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alan haigh

I was writing with the mistaken belief you were in Z5. I think Raintree is the nursery I used in the past for the large fruiting kolomitkas. I can see how they'd be more suitable for Z4 but I'm surprised Glen has had difficulties with them in 5. Can't assume that all arguta varieties are equally tender, however. As I've stated, mine have survived -22F. They are even more vigorous than Kolomitka, which is a problem. You have to prune them about 4 times during the growing season to keep light on spurs and keep them in bounds.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 11:02AM
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Wow, thank you for all the information. I will have to report back in a couple years with any results.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 3:57PM
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I haven't seen anything that even looks like buds. We are at 1400 foot elevation, and get cold winters and very hot summers for the area. I wonder if the summer heat is the cause. They are espaliared on a fence, lots of light and get lush foliage. Just no flowers and fruit. I doubt it's from too much nitrogen. I have sandy well drained soil and amend with compost and mulch.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 8:22AM
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alan haigh

Capoman, you need to recognize the fruiting spurs and keep them from being shaded by vegetative growth. They are the knobby pieces of wood that form close to the bigger wood. You allow them to have short shoots to feed the spurs and prune away anything that shades them.

They evolved in the forest growing on tall trees so they send up vigorous vegetative shoots that in the forest would be held away from fruiting wood below.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 8:49AM
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glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

capoman,I'm not sure which variety you have but the ones I have bear very young.As I stated earlier I get flowers on rooted cuttings from the previous year woodI took some pics today hopefully they work:)(see photo). The kolomikta I have bloom on previous years wood, I have vigorous shoots over 6 feet long and they get friut buds the whole way down the shoot(see photos). Unlike the argutas which need to be big and old and form stubby fruiting spurs like harvestman mentioned.As far as frost is concerned,the buds were at about 1/2 inch to 3/4 swell and got zapped 4 times in one week.As you can see there are still lost of flower buds pushing through! The only time I have lost flowers was when they were at the stage they are in shown in the pictures.Once the flower balls are visible it's game over when frost hits.Pollination does not appear to be a problem at all even if there are no visible pollinators around.They pump out so much pollen that you can smell that fresh lemony scent from about 20 feet away!It really is a wonderful smell,I have some plants(the ones in the photos)growing on my deck and when they are in bloom you can smell it in the house!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 7:05PM
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Wow, I'm envious! It says Arctic on the tags. Leaves are much larger then in the photos. If it wasn't so sandy I'd guess excess N, but that is never an issue for me. I'm stumped.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 7:43PM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

Around here arctic flowers before either hardy or fuzzy. The latter two are similar times and can pollinate each other. Bees don't like them too much, but I will get a lot of fruit anyway. I get a ton if I hand pollinate them, which is fun and easy.
John S

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:00AM
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Glenn, is your soil acidic? I grew up on the east coast and many soils there are acidic. I wonder if that's the issue? My soil is almost perfectly neutral sandy soil. I did put some sulphur down late last year to drop it a bit, but was late in the season. I've read conflicting data of the pH requirements for Arctic Kiwi.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:30AM
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glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

skyjs,how do the arctic perform for you? I see alot of posters on here from zone8 and higher giving up on them because they just don't seem to survive for them(too much heat/sun maybe?)
Capoman,the pics I posted earlier are them just budding out.If you look closely you can see the little flower balls forming.See the link below for a picture I took last year and you can see what they look like mid summer.As far as soil PH...well I have never taken my soil to get tested.I can say that I have wild blueberries on my property and have named high bush varieties which do well(Although I do give more love to my high bush berries and give them peat moss and fertilizer for acid loving plants).
But the funny thing is, is that the kiwi in the pics is growing in 6 to 8 inches of pure well rotted horse manure.When I built our new deck a few years ago, I made a 4'x8' box frame out of 2"x 8" hemlock ,dug out all the native soil and started hauling trailer loads of manure from my neighbors farm.Filled the box up and plopped the little kiwis in.They grow a lot more vigorously than any of the other kolomikta on my property and just about as vigorous as the argutas.As I stated in an earlier post,I have no dieback on them even though I "over fertilize them".At the same time I took some of that manure and just top dressed the soil around a few argutas to see what would happen,and man they grew ,and grew and grew and didn't stop until frost nuked them in the fall.It seemed like all the super growth they put on didn't know when to harden off so most of it died back anyway(about 8-10 feet)!It was a very good lesson for me.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fruit/msg091538118923.html

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:13PM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

Arctic does well here but they will burn in full sun, especially without a lot of water. Best thing is morning sun a couple of hours and cool roots. They do great in these conditions here.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 1:50PM
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I'm new here. I live in central Oklahoma (OKC metro area) zone 7a. Its hot and dry in the summers and winters are variable. We can get snow and close to 0F temps and are famous for our ice storms, but it doesn't last too long and it might hit 70 the following week lol! I would really like to try kiwi but has anybody else in my area (or a similar climate) successfully grown these? I was eyeing the September Sun artic beauty kiwi because I have a small back yard and planned to trellis them along my 6' tall fence. I don't want something too vigorous that is going to take over my backyard, plus the foliage looks so pretty. I have a side yard on the east side of my house that gets morning/early afternoon sun and is shaded by the house in the late afternoon. If I trellis it against the south-facing fence in that side yard it would get only morning sun. What do you all think - is it worth a try? Or should I pick something else?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 3:45PM
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