Arctic Kiwi Berries

To most of us, kiwis are golf-ball sized, oblong fruits grown in New Zealand. However, some northern gardeners would be surprised to learn that even here in zone 3, I harvested kiwis from my garden!

Arctic kiwi fruit

The Arctic kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta) is generally recommended for growing up to zone 4, but can easily be grown in colder climates, with varying amounts of dieback during the winter. In the very coldest zones, none of the plant above ground may survive, but it will likely regrow from the roots if snow cover has been adequate. Male and female flowers appear on separate plants, so you will need both male and female plants to produce fruit. For those growing several plants, one male is generally thought to pollinate six to eight female plants.

The berries on the Arctic kiwi appear only on female plants. They are much smaller than their supermarket cousins - about the size of small grapes. They also lack the fuzzy skin, so they do not need to be peeled. Their flavour is sweet, lacking the tart taste of the larger kiwis. Their yield might be quite variable in cold climates, as a late frost could kill the flowers (which, by the way, are sweetly scented). We have had them in our garden for three years, and we had one kiwi last year (which a bird ate) and four this year (which were delicious), so we have high hopes for next year!

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