How to Plant, Grow, and Care for ‘Prolific’ Hardy Kiwi Vines

With little care and attention, hardy kiwi vines produce hundreds of pounds of small, fuzzless kiwis each year. They thrive in climates too cold for fuzzy-skinned kiwi vines, and they’re an excellent fruiting vine for gardens. Read on with PNW gardener Jerad Bryant, and you’ll soon have unlimited supplies of fresh kiwi fruit!

The 'Prolific' Hardy Kiwi plant features vigorous, twining vines, heart-shaped green leaves, and clusters of small, smooth, green fruits.

Contents

One reason to love fruit is for nostalgia’s sake. As a kid, my mother would slice kiwi fruit with lunch. Whenever I bite into it, the tropical flavor catapults me back to those warm, fuzzy feelings I felt as a child. 

Kiwis are available at most grocery stores. Why buy them when you can grow them for free? Growing them at home allows for unlimited fruit on a perennial vine. With a ‘Prolific’ hardy plant in the backyard, you’ll never have to spend money on kiwi fruit again. 

When growing this vine, plan to prune, maintain, and limit its growth. Hardy kiwis are vigorous spreaders in the garden and benefit from maintenance similar to that of grapevines. 

‘Prolific’ Hardy Kiwi

‘Prolific’ hardy kiwi vines:

  • produce high yields of sweet, flavorful fruit
  • can be grown outdoors or as potted houseplants
  • are fast-growing and low-maintenance
  • withstand cold down to -25°F

buy at Epic Gardening Shop

Overview

The Kiwi plant displays robust, climbing vines, broad, glossy leaves, and produces an abundance of small, fuzzless, green fruits.
Plant Type Fruiting Vine
Family Actinidiaceae
Genus Actinidia
Species Actinidia arguta ‘Prolific’
Native Area Eastern Asia
Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Height 7-20’
Watering Requirements Moderate
Pests & Diseases Root-knot nematodes, Japanese beetles, cats, gophers, deer, root rot, and crown rot
Maintenance Above average
Soil Type Fertile, well-drained
Hardiness Zones 4 to 8

What Is It?

Hardy kiwi fruits
‘Prolific’ kiwis offer superb flavor and edible, fuzzless fruit.

Hardy kiwi vines grow fruit with a similar flavor to those you find at the grocery store, although hardy kiwis are much smaller and fuzzless. They taste superb in fruit salads, smoothies, and preserves. They’re also the best kiwi for fresh eating with their edible skins.

All kiwi vines share the genus Actinidia, and the hardy kiwi’s scientific name is Actinidia arguta. ‘Prolific’ is a self-fertile hardy kiwi that grows more compact than other kiwi species. This type excels in home gardens, as it can squeeze into small spaces and climb trellises. It doesn’t need a male plant to pollinate itself.

Why are there male and female kiwi plants? Most kiwis are dioecious, meaning that each plant is entirely male or entirely female and that each produces flowers that match its sex. 

‘Prolific’ stands out amongst other kiwis because it grows both male and female flowers. It pollinates other female varieties with its pollen. Rather than wasting space on a male pollinator kiwi that doesn’t produce fruit, plant a ‘Prolific’ hardy kiwi, and you’ll have garden space for other fruits and veggies. 

Native Area

The 'Prolific' Kiwi plant features vigorous, twining vines, heart-shaped green leaves, and clusters of small, white, fragrant flowers.
These kiwis thrive in temperate climates and climb with tendrils.

All kiwi species originate from eastern Asia and prefer growing in temperate and subtropical climates that match their home. In their native range, winters are cool, moist, and humid, while summers are warm, sunny, and humid. 

In wild forests, hardy kiwis climb on trees with their reaching tendrils. They use other plants for support to launch themselves into the canopy. Wild vines reach anywhere from 40-100 feet tall! As they grow, they twine themselves around other plants and become woody over time. This creates a strong, wooden base for hardy kiwi plants so they can climb higher and higher each year.

Nowadays, hardy kiwi vines grow across the globe in temperate and subtropical zones. They require some chill hours in the winter and a long growing season, and they thrive throughout North America from New York to Oregon. Some species invade local forests on the East Coast where they escape cultivation. Avoid contributing to its invasive spread by harvesting all the fruit, and avoid planting this vine close to forests and natural areas. 

Characteristics

With its vigorous, intertwining vines, the Prolific Kiwi plant has large, deep green leaves and bears numerous small, smooth-skinned kiwi fruits.
Vigorous climbers with sweet, diverse fruit thrive on sturdy support.

‘Prolific’ hardy kiwi vines sprout climbing new growth that turns woody with age. Much like how grapevines grow, these fruiting plants rely on other woody shrubs and trees for structure. They can support themselves. However, their growth and fruit production won’t be as optimal as when they have support from other structures. 

Hardy kiwi vines sprout round light-green leaves with whitish undersides. They create flowers that are creamy white, and they fade to a yellowish-brown color while the season progresses. ‘Prolific’ fruit is greenish-purplish and tastes like a mix of bananas, melons, and strawberries. 

When growing ‘Prolific’ vines, consider that they spread less vigorously than other varieties. They climb at least six or seven feet, so plant it onto an arbor, trellis, or archway for best results.

Propagation

‘Prolific’ hardy kiwi is a specific variety, so propagate it with cuttings to retain the variety’s growing and fruiting characteristics. Growing hardy kiwi vines from seeds is a fun activity, but it leads to new plants that differ genetically from their ‘Prolific’ parent plant. Try sprouting seeds for a growing experiment, or take cuttings for reliable reproduction. 

Seeds

Close-up of small sprouted kiwi seedlings with moist soil forming tiny round cotyledons and oval toothed true leaves.
Embark on the quest for elusive seeds, then nurture growth.

Hardy kiwi seeds are difficult to obtain. They’re not typically sold because they do not grow true to seed, meaning new seedlings have different characteristics. Acquire hardy kiwi seeds from a neighbor with a mature vine, or from a local farm or nursery that grows them. Local seed exchange programs also carry unique seeds like these and are an excellent resource for gardeners. 

Finding seeds is the hard part! Once you have them, you’re ready to germinate them. Start by sowing two seeds each in five-inch pots with potting soil. Bury seeds no deeper than a half-inch into the soil. Water well, and keep the soil moist but not soggy. Place the budding seedlings underneath a light source — grow lights, sunlight, and window light are all viable options. 

After a few weeks, your kiwi vine seeds should sprout! Keep them inside until all danger of frost has passed, and transplant them into the garden when the weather warms in the spring.

Cuttings

Close-up of a Kiwi cutting with heart-shaped jagged leaves, in a yellow plastic pot on a green lawn in the garden.
Unlock the secret to cloning ‘Prolific’ wonders with ease.

Taking cuttings tends to be more difficult than growing seeds. However, it is a surefire way to replicate ‘Prolific’ plants. All cuttings will match their parent plant’s genetics, and they’ll reliably reproduce delicious kiwis wherever they grow. 

Collect cuttings in the spring after new growth flushes out. Softwood, the new growth of the year, roots better than hardwood. Take softwood cuttings of newly produced wood younger than a year old. Strip cuttings of their lower leaves and leave one or two leaves at the top. 

Place cuttings in sterile potting mix under dappled shade and water well. Keep the cuttings’ soil moist, and place a humidity dome on the pots for best rooting results. After roots form, move cuttings to a spot with Full sun and keep them well-watered. After a month or two, the rooted cuttings are ready to transplant into the garden! 

Planting

‘Prolific’ kiwis excel when planted during mild seasons like fall or early spring. In areas that receive winter frost, wait to plant until after your last frost date in the spring. Gardeners in mild winter zones are lucky and can plant hardy kiwis anytime the weather is cool.

Preparation

A young shoot of an actinidia plant is protected by a metal net in a sunny garden.
Craft a sunlit sanctuary with sturdy support for thriving vines.

Prepare the planting site by selecting a spot in Full sun or partial shade. Before planting, situate a strong structure for your vine to cling to. Hardy kiwis thicken with age, and they need a strong support system to thrive. Commercial growers use T-posts with thick wood, and they secure the trunks to the post. In the garden, use a structure that will last the test of time. 

Hardy kiwis make charming wall covers, and they quickly fill vertical spaces with ease. They function well in non-traditional settings in the garden, like on a dead tree stump or inside a large garden sculpture. If you lack the space for a large trellis, think of other objects in the landscape that this vine can climb with ease.

Once you secure a site, prepare the planting hole. For container plants, dig a hole that is as deep and twice as wide as the rootball. 

For bare-root plants, dig a hole as deep and wide as the roots. At the hole’s base, make a moat structure by digging a deep circle near the hole’s edges and leaving compact soil in the center.

Transplanting

Close-up of male gardener's hands in gray gloves transplanting a kiwi seedling with wide heart-shaped green leaves into the soil in the garden.
Nurture newly planted vines with care for flourishing abundance ahead.

After the hole is dug and the location prepped, your hardy kiwis are ready for their new homes. For container vines, remove the container and loosen the root ball on the bottom. Cut off any circling roots, and place the rootball into the center of the hole.

Fill the hole halfway with the soil, then water well. Let the water sink and settle, and fill the hole with soil to the top of the rootball. Water the filled hole, and let it settle. If the dirt sinks again, fill the hole so it is level with the surrounding soil. 

For a bare-root vine, soak the roots of the plant for several hours before planting. Place it in the center of the hole with the roots dangling into the moat. Bare-root vines lack the secure rootball of container-grown plants, so they need a bit of care during transplanting. Hold the plant steady, then fill the hole halfway with the soil

During this process, the plant may sink. Ensure your vine’s trunk is above ground and that its root flare begins at ground level. If it sinks while filling the hole, simply pick it up so the trunk is at ground level again. Keep filling the hole until it is full, and give your newly planted vine a good soaking. All that’s left to do is wait for the vine to root and start to grow! 

After transplanting, a dose of compost or organic mulch on top of the soil benefits your plants. It keeps the root zone moist and cool during heat waves. In the winter, compost insulates the soil and keeps plants’ roots warm and healthy. Give your ‘Prolific’ vine a healthy helping of compost, and it’ll thank you for it when the weather gets extreme! 

How to Grow

This hardy kiwi excels in the landscape with support, water, and nutrients. After it establishes itself in the garden, this plant produces year after year with little pests or diseases. The main danger in North America is frost, and it may affect fruit quality and production. Do not fret though—the growing methods below help hardy kiwis thrive despite frost and drought.

Light

The Hardy Kiwi plant under full sun is characterized by its fast-growing, twining vines, lush green leaves, and prolific yield of small, hairless, green fruits.
Bask in sunlight to coax ‘Prolific’ vines to flourish gracefully.

‘Prolific’ kiwi vines love the sunshine! They appreciate full sun with six to eight hours of direct sunlight. These vines appreciate afternoon shade in hot summer areas with temperatures exceeding 90°F (32°C). 

In their native area, kiwi species creep underneath the forest’s tree canopy until they find something to anchor themselves to. They then shoot up into the tree to discover the light. When you plant hardy kiwis in full sun, you trick them into thinking they’ve reached the top of the tree canopy. They’ll grow big and robust after a few seasons.

Water

Close-up of small oval kiwi fruits with green smooth skin covered with drops of water.
Keep kiwi vines content with consistent moisture and partial shade.

Aim to give ‘Prolific’ kiwis regular water during the growing seasons. They are drought tolerant when established; however they like living in moist soil. They also dislike soggy soil, so avoid watering the vines if the soil is already wet.

When flowering and fruiting, vines may need water two to five times a week. Adding mulch or compost on the vine’s root zone helps trap moisture in the soil, and lowers the amount of watering you’ll have to do. 

During extreme heat, add a shade covering over the vine to keep it cool. Without protection, heat-stressed plants may drop their fruit prematurely. With a bit of water and afternoon shade, your ‘Prolific’ vine will survive the summer without issues.

Soil

Close-up of a male farmer's hands holding a handful of fresh loose dark brown soil in a sunny garden.
Provide ideal conditions with well-drained, fertile soil for thriving vines.

‘Prolific’ hardy kiwi vines appreciate well-drained soil with moderate fertility. They like a loamy mix with a draining component like vermiculite or wood bark. These materials add pockets to the soil that trap moisture, air, and nutrients for the roots to absorb.

Hardy kiwi vines are adaptable, and they tolerate other soil types with sufficient drainage. If the soil is hard to work and slow to drain, amend it with compost a few weeks before planting. The amendments decompose into the soil, adding beneficial worms, bacteria, and fungi. This process also creates structure in the soil and makes it easier to plant in. 

Fertilizing

Close-up of a man's hand in a gray glove pouring out a handful of granular fertilizers of a pale pinkish hue against the background of soil in the garden.
Nourish with care, sparing salts and timing fertilization wisely.

Hardy kiwis are prone to salt burn from fertilizers, especially when they grow in alkaline soils. Avoid salt burn by scattering the fertilizer across the soil and watering it well. Avoid non-organic fertilizers that may be harsh on your hardy kiwi’s roots. 

‘Prolific’ vines appreciate added nutrients every season. Fertilize plants with the recommended amount of balanced organic fertilizer according to the package’s instructions. Most fertilizers have a number that says how much nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium they have. A balanced fertilizer has a near-equal amount of each and usually has other beneficial micronutrients mixed in.

Apply fertilizer at planting and after the first growing season in late summer. In the spring, give plants another dose. Then, after a second growing season, fertilize them again with half the recommended amount. From then on, aim to apply a full dose of fertilizer each spring and a half dose after fruiting. 

Temperature and Humidity

The Kiwi plant features strong, climbing vines, heart-shaped leaves, and clusters of small, smooth, green-purple fruits that ripen abundantly.
Ensure thriving with moderate temperatures and ample humidity, shielding from frost.

‘Prolific’ vines appreciate moderate temperatures and lots of humidity. They grow well throughout USDA zones four through eight. Kiwi vines, like apples, plums, and other stone fruits, have a minimum number of chill hours they need each winter. ‘Prolific’ kiwis require at least 300 chill hours below 45°F (7°C) in the wintertime. 

If the flowers sprout before the last frost date, they are subject to freeze damage. Cover flowering plants with frost cloth when temperatures dip below freezing. Frost cloth puts a layer between the cold and your plants, and it helps the vine keep its flowers. 

In spring and summer, hardy kiwis need a long growing season to flower and fruit properly. They appreciate sunny, warm conditions with average to high humidities. These plants are also sensitive to strong winds that dry out their leaves. Situate ‘Prolific’ kiwis in areas where they have protection from gusts of wind. 

Maintenance

Pruning Kiwi vines using large garden pruners in the garden.
Tame prolific growth through strategic seasonal pruning for optimal yield.

Hardy kiwis, like hops, grow profusely. They may try and grow on things you’d like them not to! Pruning is the best way to manage rank growth, and it also promotes a hefty fruit yield. 

In the dormant season, cut the vine back to the main trunk. Hardy kiwis fruit on one-year-old wood, so keep a few branches extending off the main trunk. Prune the branches back so that they have several buds on them. 

Summer pruning also benefits the plant if it is getting too unruly. Prune crossing branches and extended shoots so they are manageable. 

Harvesting

Close-up of freshly picked ripe kiwi fruits in a green bowl representing oval fruits with smooth green skin.
Indulge in the sweet taste of ripe kiwis come harvest.

Harvest ‘Prolific’ kiwis when they start to soften. The fruit ripens over a long growing season, and it’s usually ready to harvest by late summer or fall. Test ripeness by trying a few and seeing how sweet they are. If they taste delicious, they’re ready!

Uses

Close-up of glass jars with freshly made kiwi jam on the kitchen table.
Savor versatile hardy kiwis in salads, smoothies, or homemade jams.

Use hardy kiwis in fresh fruit recipes like salads and fruit bowls. One of the best ways to enjoy them is fresh off the vine, although this may not be possible if you have a huge harvest. Freeze large amounts of the fruit for smoothies, or process fresh kiwis into your favorite jam recipe.

Common Problems

‘Prolific’ hardy kiwi vines sometimes encounter growing issues outside their native range. Do not worry, though, as these issues are easily fixable with care and attention.

Trunk Damage

Close-up of a damaged kiwi tree trunk on a blurred brown background.
Shield young kiwi vines from frost with protective coverings.

When hardy kiwis sprout before the last average frost date, they suffer from freezing temperatures and ice. Avoid frost damage by covering plants with frost cloth before hard freezes. If your trunk receives damage, wait until the spring to see how much of it has died. It may recover on its own! In spring, cut out any dead parts of the trunk. 

No Flowers or Fruit

View of dense green kiwi vines boasting vigorous, twining vines and broad, heart-shaped, green leaves.
Overcome fruitlessness with established vines and frost protection strategies.

Frost is usually the reason for a lack of fruit, as it initiates flower drop on kiwi vines. Newly planted vines may also not fruit for a few years, as they require a bit of time to establish themselves fully in the garden.

Vigorous Spread

The 'Prolific' Hardy Kiwi plant showcases resilient, climbing vines with large, heart-shaped leaves against a blue sky in the garden.
Trim wandering vines for tidy and controlled growth.

Kiwi vines like to spread where they’re not supposed to! Cut back any overreaching plants with pruners. Over time, small branches thicken and grow woody, so cut overgrown shoots when you see them.

Pests

The Japanese beetle on a green leaf, is a small, metallic green insect with coppery-brown wing covers and distinct white tufts of hair along its sides.
Protect kiwi plants from damage caused by Japanese beetles.

Root-knot nematodes and Japanese beetles may attack this plant in hot weather. Cool plants down with compost or mulch on the root zone, and water regularly during heat stress. Cats are attracted to the vines, due to compounds similar to those in catnip. Mulch your new plants to prevent scratching, and cover vines to prevent kitty nibbles.

Deer and gophers can also be an issue. Try planting some hardware cloth in the area to prevent the feeding of gophers on the roots. A critter cage or frost cloth can deter deer. Planting deer resistant plants around your vines keeps them away too.

Diseases

A kiwi tree struck by root rot exhibits yellowing, wilting, dry leaves, and stunted growth.
Enhance soil drainage with compost to prevent root rot.

Root and crown rot infect ‘Prolific’ kiwi vines that grow in heavy, clay soil. The roots struggle to breathe, and the infection causes yellow growth. Eventually, plants give up under normal stresses unless amendments are added to the soil.

Avoid root rot by amending the soil with compost before planting. Add compost to established plants twice every year, both before and after fruiting. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What do hardy kiwis taste like?

Hardy kiwis are grape-size fuzzless kiwis with edible skins. They taste like a mix of melons, bananas, and strawberries.

Where can ‘Prolific’ hardy kiwi vines grow in the United States?

‘Prolific’ hardy kiwi thrives throughout USDA growing zones four through eight. They sometimes survive outside their zones, although they may struggle to fruit properly.

Are hardy kiwi vines drought tolerant?

Yes, they are! Established plants are drought tolerant, and they appreciate well-drained soil. If you recently planted your vine, keep it well-watered so it survives its first year.

Final Thoughts

‘Prolific’ kiwis are tasty little fruits, and they are a delightful fruit to try growing yourself. These hardy vines are indeed hardy, and they make excellent specimens in the garden. With lush, deep-green leaves and ample sweet fruit, this vine is a must-have for the fruit orchard. Plant one today and enjoy kiwifruit for decades to come!

SHARE THIS POST
strawberries hanging baskets with ripe bright red berries hang in a row in a greenhouse.

Fruits

How to Grow Strawberries in Hanging Baskets

Imagine walking out to your porch and grabbing a handful of sweet, fresh berries as they overflow from a dangling basket. Strawberries are perfect for hanging baskets, and former organic farmer Logan Hailey has all the info you need to enjoy abundant yields in a small space.

A close-up reveals dwarf lime trees flourishing in brown pots filled with soil, showcasing vibrant green fruits dangling from the branches. The fruits are small and spherical, resembling miniature limes ready for harvest. The leaves are glossy and vibrant, showcasing their lush, healthy appearance.

Fruits

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Dwarf Lime Trees

If you want to grow limes at home but lack the warm climate necessary for outdoor growing, take a look at dwarf lime trees. These plants remain compact, allowing you to tuck them into planters and grow them indoors. Join farmer Briana Yablonski to learn how to plant and care for these petite citrus trees.

tastiest fig varieties. Bottom view of ripe fig fruits hanging from tree branches against a blurred background of green foliage. Fig fruits are pear-shaped with a slightly flattened bottom. They are dark purple in color.

Fruits

13 Tastiest Fig Varieties for Home Gardens

Fig flavors can be defined as sweet, complex, honey-like, berry-like, custardy, and more. Regardless of how you describe the flavor, they are all delicious! In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen shares 13 favorite fig varieties that you can grow in your home garden.