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Kiwi Bonsai

Kiwi Bonsai Diaries

The plan for these two is to create a 'soul mate' bonsai.  Kiwi requires male and female to successfully produce fruit. The plan is to put them both in the same planter.

"The one thing you do want to do is to make sure to allocate leaf space exclusively for the male and the female respectively, otherwise pruning becomes a mess. You will need a total area of at least 3'x8' for the bushy "head" of the two vines at the minimum. In this small of a space you will need to be pruning several times in the first half of the summer to remove all the long shoots coming way out. If you have more space than 3'x8' that would make it easier." ~

Soul Mate Vision
The vision is where the bottom trunks may eventually fuse, but having two separate trunks branching out in order to follow the above advise on growing two Kiwi in such close proximity.  Thanks to the low chill varieties, we can grow them in our climate and eventually see some fruit.

The male pollinator is Tomuri and the female has no special name designation.

Actinida chinensis Tomuri (m) and Vincent (f)

April 15, 2017 - 1027 Days To Kens Red, 700 Days To Issai and 1770 Days To Fuzzy Kiwi Fruit

We received the new hardy kiwi vine, Issai, self fertile vine.  The other hardy kiwi vine growth has become kind of leggy, and with the new addition it was time to rehome all of the kiwi vines to 25" diameter, 15" tall planters.

These are where they will stay, barring refreshing the soil. The fuzzy kiwis are centered in their own planter, generously mulched and set on the east side of our house where most other potted plants are.

The hardy kiwis were planted together. The Ken's Red male and the Issai vine look so similar, the
Kens Red and Issai Kiwi 
Issai vine was elevated and planted in a bottomless nursery pot within the larger planter.

Kens Red male and Issai are directly across from each other and the Kens Red female vines are across from each other.

Even though Issai is self fertile, a little help never hurts. Issai can bear fruit in 2 to 6 years, if it is not over-fertilized.

With the leggy growth of the hardy kiwis, we should probably do some simple layering to propagate new vines for fall weather sharing. We're doing the same with the honeysuckle vines and the wisteria this year.

April 2, 2017 - 1040 Days To Hardy Kiwi Fruit, 1783 Days To Fuzzy Kiwi Fruit

Actinida chinensis Tomuri (m) and Vincent (f)

The fuzzy kiwi has leafed out really well.  The female vine still stands taller over the male vine.

No real discernible differences in the plants now that the leaves are fully developed.

The male plant did seem to have leaf nodes that were much closer together than the female vine leaf nodes.

Actinida arugata Ken's Red
Male and Female Vine Coloring
Upon close inspection, the leaf stems of  the female hardy kiwi vines are red and the leaf stems of the male vine are green. It is kind of an odd finding.

The hardy kiwi vines are growing amazingly fast.  Kind of scary how fast they are going.

In about seven days, these plants have seemed to have doubled in fullness and height.

Actinida chinensis Tomuri (m) 'Yin'

March 25, 2017 - 1073 Days To Hardy Kiwi Fruit, 1803 Days To Fuzzy Kiwi Fruit

The fuzzy leaves are spreading out on Yin and Yang.  Yin, the male plant, is putting forth the leaves already.  Yang is still in budding stage.

Yin is still lower to the ground and Yang is reaching for the sky. I
Actinida chinensis
Vincent (f) 'Yang'
still have a lot of time to contemplate on the twisting and vining of the trunk shape and have not really formed a solid opinion on how to make these look in a final stage.  It is a good day to know the plants came through the winter season and they didn't get killed off.  It helps build faith in the plants and their growth cycles.

Actinida arugata Ken's Red
top are Jolie and Anniston
bottom is Pitt
Pitt, Aniston and Jolie are coming back super strong.  These kiwi are going to grow amazingly fast from the looks of it.

It seems both kiwi types will benefit from some small poles for initial trunk training. This is affirmed by a second site regarding the first year of kiwi growing.   Some time this year we will have to decide how tall we wish the kiwi trunk to be.  Even with traditional grape or espalier training, the trunks of food vines are not allowed to get very tall, so I'm not sure it matters all that much right now.

Actinidia arguta Ken's Red

March 3, 2017 - 1095 Days To Hardy Kiwi Fruit, 1825 Days To Fuzzy Kiwi Fruit

Thankfully, the kiwi are not dead... they just went dormant.  The buds are swelling and some leaves are sprouting.  The Ken's Red is ahead of the traditional fuzzy kiwi as Ken's Red has some leaves sprouting while the fuzzy type just has swelling buds.

I didn't take the time to note whether the male plant broke dormancy
Actinidia arguta Ken's Red
first, but for sure one of the females is behind the other plants, yet still promising to leaf out and thrive.

I will have some summer pruning to document this year, for sure. These plants are supposed to be prolific growers and should be quite active. The bonsai training will be some time in the future
Actinidia arguta Ken's Red
after the trunks are well developed. This gives plenty of time to observe the natural growth of the vines and learn how best to trim these while being able to potentially get fruit as well.

So, I ran out of things to say about the Kiwi for this post.  I did find a children's poem about kiwi fruit on a New Zealand site:

Once a little kiwifruit, just for fun
Actinidia chinensis 

Took off his jacket and laid in the sun
Be careful lad his mother said
You'll burn a nasty red
It's not wise for a kiwifruit
To sunbathe in his birthday suit
But he lay there with his rug and pillow
And woke up as a tamarillo! ~ Treasures

Actinidia chinensis 

I didn't document which bud set is the male or female for the fuzzy kiwi either. They seem to look quite different at such a young age. One is full of all sorts of buds the other has stem then buds.

Just an interesting observation.

October 23, 2016 - 1809 Days To Fuzzy Kiwi and 1086 Days To Hardy Kiwi
Summer And Winter Pruning Kiwi

Some research on kiwi pruning found a handy little diagram that illustrates where the fruit is grown and when to prune which vines.  We have at least 3 years to grow out the kiwi vines and work up a trunk.

Understanding where the fruit grows will help out in the future.  Understanding how the fruit vine grows and how we can shape it will help with the grow out process and managing the bonsai form.

Vincent Fuzzy Variety Yin and Yang

October 22, 2016 - 1810 Days to Fuzzy Kiwi

and 1087 Days To Hardy Kiwi

The Vincent (fuzzy) soultmate Kiwi set have transplanted well.  Yin (male to the left) started out angular (typical masculine bonsai form) and Yang is standing tall, which can easily be manipulated to a nice rolling curvature (typical feminine bonsai form).

Trouble is, I don't know how the mixed forms would look together.  Yin has several new leaves that are easily visible.  Yang's growth is not as apparent, so the growth may be happening blow the soil level.

Everything topside looks great so far for the soulmate bonsai set.

Hardy Variety Kiwi Trio
Topside also looks great for the hardy trio, Pitt, Jolie and Anniston.  A marker was set to the side where the male plant is, just to keep tabs.  I'm not really sure what I want to do with a trio bonsai.

Hardy Kiwi Male and Female Flowers
Perhaps something like the male winding around and between the females in a serpentine style.  These are young, flexible plants that can have a lot of potential.

Looking at the blossoms, having the vines intertwined can create a lot of visible interest with the two flowers intermixed.

October 14, 2016 1095 Days To Fresh Fruit

Actinidia arguta Ken's Red; Pitt, Jolie, Anniston

I'm a sucker for the unusual and hope to get something from these new arrivals. The new arrivals are Ken's Red Actinidia arguta vines. This time we did three plants and named them Pitt (male), Jolie (female) and Anniston (female).  They arrived healthy looking.

The chill hours are reported at 300. Some people have reported that they don't need 300. I need to find the coldest spot in our yard to set these up when these are mature enough to bear fruit.

Actinidia arguta Fruit

These kiwi are smooth skinned, about the size
of a grape and not as tangy as the traditional kiwis.

This particular variety of hardy kiwi produces red fruits, inside and out.  This is an aggressive grower and will need to be trimmed up regularly right from the beginning.  The Home Orchard Society has the plans for pruning - mostly like a grape vine.

Actinidia chinensis Vincent (f) / Tomuri (m)
'YIN' and 'YANG'

October 7, 2016 1824 Days To Fresh Fruit

Our Southern low chill Kiwi vines arrived yesterday.  (100 - 150 chill hours)  They are too cute!  The female, Yin, will be the bearer of fruit and should be the larger of the two.  The male, Yang, will be trimmed as the smaller of the soulmate vision.

One male plant can pollinate up to 8 female plants if centrally located, so keeping the male vine a bit smaller will create a similar ratio.  The interesting part will be trying to create the imperial size (up to 6' tall) while maintaining a nice composition.  I'm not sure if the fruit production will be considered as part of the artistic composition or not.

I chose plants over starting from seed to avoid any confusion over whether I have male or female plants.  It it really would take a long time and a lot of space to determine which are male and which are female and my recent plant binge just won't allow for this.  We can always take cuttings from known sexes in the future.  These will require heavy winter pruning every year.

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