Living trellis for my kiwi

I rooted some kiwi (1 male, 1 female), so now I have to put them somewhere. Here’s my possibly crazy plan:

Pictured below: mulberry which is growing over a drainage pipe. A lot of its branches are perpendicular to the ground, and I should be able to train some of the others down there as well. I’ll cut off a few of the vertical branches.

I’m planting the vines by its trunk. I’ll train the female horizontally, and the male vertically, where it should be able to rain down pollen.

I’m also transplanting some other mulberries to the left, so I can join them to the vertical branches and reinforce the structure.

If it chokes the tree, I have plenty of others, and the structure should still work. If not, bonus fruit!

Crazy, or so crazy it just might work?


I’d be concerned about the male shading/choking out the female.

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I have kiwis taking over pawpaw trees, much like you describe.

The kiwis are basically floating at the edge of the canopy of the pawpaws and shading much of the plants. The effect is so dense that in all but the hardest rain I can stand dry under the canopy (leaving me concerned about watering issues)

My neighbor was bbq’ing a couple weekends ago and this area actually held onto the smoke (and smell) from his grill for much longer than one would think likely (think hours) due to the canopy of kiwi leaves.

I plan on going out and trimming back some of the vines in a week or so (I have a vacation coming up) once bloom is done. If not I fear the pawpaws would succumb (as a sweet autumn clematis did previously) to the smothering of the kiwi vines.



I love the idea of a living trellis. You can make it work.

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I’m going to train the tree into essentially an L shape. The male shouldn’t provide more than partial shade some of the day, and what I’ve read says that kiwis prefer a little shade anyway.

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If you’re not already experienced with hardy kiwi vines, don’t underestimate how vigorous they are. I would expect to have to prune the male something like 4-8 times per year in order to keep it from completely choking out the female.

I have a red mulberry, by the way, (a large mature one) that I’m pretty sure was dead when I bought my place in 2007, and it’s still standing, even holding onto quite small branches. That really impressed me. If it hasn’t been dead for 10+ years it’s been dead for very close to 10 years already and still standing this strong, despite years of ice storms, heavy winds, etc. Here’s a photo:

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Yeah, everything I’ve read says the vines are crazy vigorous. The area is isolated enough that I should be able to keep it to this tree, and I’m willing to sacrifice the tree itself to the experiment (its berries are only so-so). I’m actually a little worried that it isn’t big enough for the vine, but I suppose it still has time to expand.

Does anybody think I might be causing myself problems by having 2 kiwi vines planted within a few feet of each other, and running in the same area? Would I be better off picking just one and then grafting the other on to it?

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Grafting onto a small branch of the female might help to restrain the vigor of the male, but I wouldn’t worry about planting two vines close to each other as far as root competition or anything like that. I would think worst case it might limit some of the vigor of the vines once they got bigger, but that would only seem like a good thing. I don’t know what others would say, but those are my thoughts.

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I’m thinking that 2-3 years down the road you might have a mess on your hands, Not only in terms of overgrowth (vines on top of vines), but accessibility of the fruit. That is why folks - and professional growers - get those vines up on sturdy spacious trellis structures. They are beasts. Just sayin’ :blush:

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