Growing Actinidia?

I got the opportunity to sample several varieties of kiwi fruit this past weekend at “Kiwibob” Glanzman’s place.

Most people’s exposure to kiwi is the hard frozen fuzzy kiwi at the supermarket. That one is called Actinidia Deliciosa.
But there are 100s of other Actinidia species’. Kiwibob collects them and breeds them to create superior varieties.
Once you’ve tasted a good one, judging by my experience, you will be a convert :slight_smile:

This is fast becoming one of my favorite fruits! It has very few pests and the flavor/sweetness surpasses most other fruits.

This is a fruit well worthy of cultivation and collection. To my palate, it is as tasty as figs but much less widely collected or cultivated. The additional benefits are – no pests at least in my climate, easy to hybridize to create new varieties, very prolific, a large vine can produce 100s of lbs a year.

Actinidia Eriantha graft I did for Kiwibob a month or so ago. He has been trying to make copies of his single vine for years without success. I did 7 grafts with likely 5-6 successes.

Close up of graft

A profusion of Kiwifruit – both fuzzy and hardy

Actinidia Eriantha fruit

Inside of Melanandra

Several varieties of kiwis
The green one is a very early unknown. Exceptionally tasty, The Red is Actinidia Melanandra. It tastes exactly like Vitus Labrusca grape with similar sweetness. The fuzzy kiwi is Kiwi Gold “Koshin”.

Unknown Hardy Kiwi. Exceptional taste


Nice photos! I can almost taste the fruit looking at them. So the melanandra tastes like Concord grapes? Methyl anthranilate? Interesting!

Just picked these Kens Red fruit about a week ago, as some were getting soft. I have been wondering if these were really Kens Red, as the fruits have not been turning red when ripened outdoors. I let these ripen indoors at room temp, and they are now turning red. I assume they don’t develop the red pigments in hot weather, and they ripen in TN in August. These fruits are also pollinized by yellow kiwi and some maybe by fuzzy kiwi too, as I have never had a male arguta. I will be sending Kiwibob some of the seeds for his breeding project.


Thanks for the pictures! Kiwibob is always up to cool stuff.

Another advantage over figs is they don’t freeze out as easily. Even the big-leafed ones (deliciosa, chinensis) are usually OK for me, they take down to 0F or so OK. They don’t like sudden temperature changes but that is not much of a problem for my area.

Besides a little bit of pruning all I do is pick the fruit when ripe … my kind of plant! This year I am going to get many pounds of yellow fuzzy kiwis (chinensis), my favorite kind. No Ken’s Red though … 15 years and it still doesn’t want to fruit. One of these years I hope…


15 years? Wow. I think its time to punt and graft it over to something else. My Kens Red produced a few blooms it’s third spring, and had a huge crop in year 4. However, I have an MSU/Jumbo planted at the same time that has not bloomed in 12 years. Weird.


Im growing Issai. I had my first couple fruits from it yesterday and they are delicious. I plan on getting a male for better pollination but it held roughly 20 fruit this yr so maybe i can do without the male.
It is the 3rd year its been in the ground and actually set fruit but dropped them last year.


I got some pollen from Kiwibob that I believe originated from you.

I pollinated my Ana kiwis and the fruits are holding on! Should be an interesting experiment to grow the seeds out.


That’s good news! A lot of fruit has been dropping on argutas using the chinensis pollen. My Kens Red dropped 95% of it’s fruit, but luckily there were many early on. In the past, this did not happen, so not sure what is going on now. I also have a seedling female from Chang Bai Giant that had at least a couple hundred blooms pollinized by the chinensis males, and every single fruit dropped.


Ken’s Red has been a bust for me (though I have a small one in a pot that will go into the ground next year and should go gangbusters…)

My heaviest fruiting and most reliable is MSU/Jumbo (which bugs my wife as she is a UM graduate). My Anna was hacked back heavily this past winter as it needed to be rejuvenated due to poor pruning by me up until now. Though I am still not terribly secure in my ability to prune these things effectively for good production.

I have Actinidia Polygama ‘Hot Pepper’ in its second year in the ground that I’m hoping will give me something next season.

I don’t graft kiwis. I find that cuttings root fairly easily and the plants are then on their own roots so I don’t have as much concern about freezes…


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In fairness I should mention it died back to the ground for no reason maybe halfway into those 15 years. Still even waiting 8 years is a long time.

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@ramv @scottfsmith @kiwinut - tagging a few folks, others please chime in as well

This thread really makes me want to grow some kiwi varieties. I have only tasted grocery store varieties and I really like Zespri Gold and other yellow kiwis. I did try hardy kiwi once as well but I didn’t find them significantly different than fuzzy green ones. I have a few questions though

a) Are these hardy/fuzzy kiwi cultivars better than golden/yellow ones? Of course personal preferences differ, but I am curious about everyone’s ratings of these varieties.

b) I see some articles on how California weather is not great for growing Golden kiwis (Actinidia chinensis) (sorry too many ads on this one)

I do live near the coast and temperatures are not as harsh as inland. Would this work?

c) Do the golden varieties need high chill? I initially thought these were tropical but I saw a post on bidngrow saying they may be high chill. We usually get around 400 chill hours here

d) I can’t find any sources for chinesis cultivars. Where can I find them other than the AU varieties which can’t be shipped to CA? If they are not easily available, does it make sense to order and grow a standard green kiwi (delicosa) and establish an espalier shape and then graft chinesis male and female scions to it (assuming I can find folks here that can share some chinesis scions)?

e) I want to grow the vine against a chain link fence which is around x feet tall. If (d) can be done, would it make sense to espalier the base vine into 4/6 cordons and graft different cultivars (like early/mid/late females + one male) to each of those arms? Not sure, such varieties exist for Chinesis plants.

Let me know your recommendations

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You should look into trying some of the AU varieties. The earlier one is Jinnong (dragon) and later is Jinyang (Sunshine). @lordkiwi might be able to help.

The later one can potentially be pollinated by regular male deliciosa. The earlier requires CK3 — a male that blooms early. The bloom times for kiwis is a big variable so it is essential to keep track of that.

I believe the Zespri variety is late but they are nearly impossible to find clonal stock for.

The hardy kiwis are very sweet and good tasting. Kens red is a good one as is Cordifolia. Also the standard bearer for this class is Ananasnaja which is also very good. If well ripened, these can be 20+ brix.


As you already suspected, the chill hours will be the biggest issue. The other issue, is that the only real source for anything other than members here or the AU varieties is UC Davis, and they have more or less suspended distributing cuttings for now. Regardless of whether you get cuttings from them, or other members here, you will need some sort of rootstock. I would recommend starting seedlings from Sun Gold fruit, and you can graft them later.

Do you know how many chill hours they get at the UC Davis site? Many of the yellow kiwi there do fruit well, so that may be a good starting point.


Are all these kiwi varieties (chinensis, Ken’s Red, Cordifolia) graft compatible with fuzzy kiwi (deliciosa)? If yes, I can get hold of a male deliciosa vine this winter and start establishing the structure for grafting later.

I would guess the chill hours should be around 900-1000 hours at Davis. I will also enquire locally if there are folks growing yellow kiwis to understand if the chill hours is an issue. In general, I haven’t seen too many trees that haven’t fruited here (other than some apricots and cherries) due to chill hours.

@scottfsmith - I read that you are growing different varieties of yellows. Of course, you can’t comment about their chill hour requirements. Do these varieties have different harvest times for you?

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Yes, Arguta, Chinensis and Deliciosa are all graft compatible. I usually get a nice vigorous deliciosa from the nursery and graft it over.


Perfect, thats exactly what I was thinking of. This way I don’t have to limit myself to just Chinensis.

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Kens Red and Meyers cordifolia are hardy kiwis, so not compatible with deliciosa. All yellow chinensis and deliciosa are inter-graftable.


Hal, I did a couple of grafts of arguta on deliciosa and they are growing vigorously. Is there a possibility of delayed incompatibility?

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Yep, they will take and grow but will eventually fail. The grafts last anywhere from a few months to a couple of years, but almost always decline and fail due to a delayed incompatibility. My hybrids between hardy kiwi and yellow/fuzzy kiwi should work as interstems to get long lasting compatibility. I have not tested them yet, but there are published reports that it works well.


Just an update here after talking to some local CRFG kiwi growers. There are a handful of gardeners here in Silicon Valley who were able to fruit a few varieties (seedlings, I guess) of Golden kiwi. I’d guess chill hours shouldn’t be a problem. Interestingly, couple of them said the fuzzy and hardy kiwi vines struggled in summer when they were young. I was surprised as we do get a few ~100F days in peak summer but otherwise the weather is pretty mild here (relatively) close to the coast.

One gardener also mentioned that she grafted both A. Chinensis and A. Arguta to the same A. deliciosa vine and the hardy kiwis have been providing fruit for more than 3 years now. Is it possible some varieties are graft compatible between these species?

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Sure sounds like it. I have seen studies where arguta was grafted on/with deliciosa. Most failed within a couple of years, but a few held on longer, but didn’t thrive. These studies were usually conducted with only a couple of different varieties grafted on Hayward, or Hayward grafted on one or two argutas, so data on these types of grafts are very limited.