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A hardy kiwi is a climbing perennial vine that is native to Asia, but commonly grown in the United States. It produces small kiwifruit in late summer or early fall. It can be grown on a garden trellis or in a patio container, provided it is pruned regularly.
The leaves of this plant are usually two to five inches (5.08 to 12.7 cm) long, and very thick and leathery. They are normally dark green and shiny in appearance. The edges can have a serrated or saw-toothed pattern to them. The tops of this foliage may feel slightly fuzzy.
When fully grown, a hardy kiwi can be as long as 30 feet (9.15 m). It sometimes spreads in width, growing eight to 10 feet (2.44 to 3.05 m) in some instances. For these reasons, it might be necessary to train this vine to grow on some type of support, such as a trellis or fence post.
In the spring, cream-colored or white flowers may appear on the hardy kiwi plant. These are normally in bunches of two or three blossoms that are around 1/2 inch (1.26 cm) in diameter. These are usually very fragrant when they first appear. They typically remain until late spring or early summer in most areas.
A hardy kiwi plant is either male or female. This means two or more of these plants must be planted together, one of each gender, to produce fruit. In rare instances, female vines have been able to bear fruit without being pollinated by a male specimen.
The kiwifruit of this garden plant is usually light green on the outside and a dark green inside. In some instances, it is red on either the outside or the inside. It is normally the size of a grape, with small black seeds — like those of a watermelon — inside. It is generally very juicy with a high sugar content and extremely sweet taste.
Normally, at least 150 frost-free days are required in order for this plant to produce a crop. Even so, it can usually withstand temperatures as low as -25°F (-32°C). A minimum number of days that have temperatures below 45°F (7°C) are typically required for the vine to produce a crop in the spring.
This vine can be a good choice for home gardeners who wish to pick their own kiwi. It can usually produce enough fruit for a small family, but is not typically suited for commercial production. Hardy kiwi is a unique and interesting plant that might also attract bees and butterflies to a backyard.