*Easiest* fruit for a pergola?

I’m building a roughly 16 x 12 pergola over a stone patio (z7a) this season and hoping to grow a shading vine. I was wondering what the most hassle-free options are.

Top priority for me is something I don’t have to spray, after that it’s maintenance.

I was initially thinking hardy kiwis (kiwiberry), but everything I’ve researched suggests that they’d be absolute monsters that would require tons of pruning. I’ve seen pictures of them enveloping entire trees! It also seems like a pergola (vs trellis) is not a great choice since fruit quality is vastly superior on sun-exposed fruits, and they’d be heavily shaded on the inner portions of the cordons. All that on top of needing at least 1 male makes me very hesitant to choose them.

Maypop seems like a great choice but, given that it’s almost too easy to grow, I’d love to save it for a chainlink fence around my property. They might be my best bet though if things like muscadine or american grapes require tons of spraying.

Love to hear people’s thoughts on grapes/muscadines, kiwiberries, maypop, or anything else I might be forgetting!

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Consider Eastern Prince magnolia vine.

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If you were already considering hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta), but are worried they’d be too vigorous for your needs you might consider Arctic kiwi (A. kolomikta). It also makes a good quality fruit, but is less aggressive in growth.

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Maybe ‘Rogers Red’ grape, red leafed hybrid of vinifera and californica?

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Was lucky enough to learn about Katuah Muscadines, local to the Appalachians and introduced by a farm only 45 minutes from me. Got in touch with the owner and going to chat with him soon. Sounds like they’re basically pesticide free and the pruning wouldn’t be too bad at all. Really stoked for them!

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I would vote for muscadines as well. You’ll need to prune them to get good production, but they aren’t as aggressive growers as hardy kiwis, and I haven’t sprayed mine and get a good crop. Be wary of maypops - I love mine dearly but they spread underground and pop up 30 ft or more from where you originally plant them. Give them a wide perimeter that you can mow to keep them contained. They also are late to start growing - more like June-pops for me here in NC - and die back to the ground every year. The delayed growth would make it a challenge to cover an entire pergola in a single season.

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Southern Home grape is a muscadine hybrid that has an attractive cut-leaf that is more ornamental than most muscadines if that is a factor for you. The fruit are tasty but smaller than most muscadines.

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Have heard of these, and have also heard they’re zone 6 hardy. I’d be curious to know what lows they’ve experienced without significant damage—and I would imagine that they’ve experienced some pretty chilly temps in the mountains of NC. Would’ve already trialed some, but I understand that you have to order a minimum of 10 vines—a year ahead of time!

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If you will have shade, the Arctic Kiwis might be worth the effort. I have some coming in May to trial on my North and possibly western areas.

Regarding maypop, just keep it in a large pot in ground so it doesn’t spread as much!

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I’ll ask Chuck when I go to visit on Tuesday. It got to 0F this year where I am and he’s about an hour away on top of a mountain (much colder) and I believe they did just fine.

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I wish I had the benefits of a 7b zone :grin:; Chuck has mentioned in some talks he’s given that they’ve experienced full dieback in our climate for all the so-called cold hardy hybrids they’ve tried.

I’m definitely going to be careful with the maypops though! Luckily passion fruit is probably top 3 fruit for me, so with a good enough maypop variety I hopefully won’t mind a few escapees :upside_down_face:

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Hops could work. They grow with the drive of tropical vines but they die to the ground after they are done for the season.

I’m growing grapes on mine, originally it was intended for roses but one Rose didn’t like the heat.

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