Kiwis are an exotic plant with a sweet, melon-like flavor that is almost impossible not to love. These little fruits are also packed with vitamins and antioxidants, making them a healthy choice for snacking on, and can be added to juices, salads, and smoothies. Those that want a steady supply may be considering growing kiwi indoors, though this plant can be a bit tricky the first try. The vines need plenty of space to spread and the proper conditions to thrive. If you’re up to the task, the following tips can help you get started.
- Kiwis are a cool season fruit and will do well in slightly colder climates than most other fruits. Most indoor temperatures should be fine.
- They come in a wide range of varieties which can differ slightly in size, texture, and taste.
- Their care is pretty typical, requiring full sun and adequate amounts of water.
- They do require a good deal of pruning. This both helps keep the plant in shape and encourages it to continue to bloom and bear fruit.
- Kiwi vines grow quickly so be sure to start with some trellis to help secure it.
- Some varieties will bloom beautiful white flowers in early summer.
- Most varieties require both a male and female plant for pollenation. In these cases, only the female plant will bear fruit.
There are several varieties of kiwi to choose from, though for those in colder climates or beginners trying their hand at such a plant for the first time, a hardier variety may be a better option. These include varieties like Ananasnaya, Natasha, Tatyana, Michigan State, or Ken’s Redi. The size, coloring, and flavor of the fruit may not be exactly the same, but these options are somewhat more resistant to cooler temperatures and inexperienced care. In fact, many of these can survive down to negative temperatures, so you can choose to grow them outdoors in many hardiness zones.
When choosing your kiwi variety, keep in mind that most of them are dioecious, meaning the vines are either male or female. Only the female plant can produce the tasty kiwi fruit, though they can’t do so without a male plant nearby to pollinate them. You’ll need both in close proximity, or your flowers won’t bear fruit, leaving you with a decorative kiwi-less vine. In general, one male plant is enough for about 8-10 females.
If you’d rather not deal with pollination, there are some varieties that don’t require it. The Issai variety is one, and will produce fruit even if you have only a single plant.
Kiwi plants have shallow roots, though you need enough space for at least one male and one female if growing a dioecious variety. For only one of each, a pot of around 20 inches is perfect, but you can go a bit smaller for a single plant. Be sure your chosen container has drainage holes on the bottom to release extra moisture.
Kiwi is a vining plant, so they will also require stakes or trellis for support as it grows. It’s a good idea to set these up at planting time as kiwi grows extremely quickly. If you wait, there’s a good chance your plant grows too big too quickly and is unable to support itself.
Kiwi plants are a bit picky when it comes to soil conditions. They don’t like to soak in water, so well-draining soil is best to release excess moisture. The soil should be rich and loamy to ensure the roots are getting the nutrients they need. A slightly acidic pH of about 5 to 6.5 is best for the healthiest plants.
Most commercial potting soils will work, but you can also go with specific fruit blends. In particular, I’ve had success with fruit tree soil as it’s naturally a bit more acidic and well draining.
The vines of a hardy kiwi plant can handle varying conditions, though they need plenty of light for those flowers to bloom and produce fruit. Full sun is best, so a south-facing window is a must for an abundant harvest in the fall. Look for a full 8 hours of sun, or supplement with a grow light if you’re not getting enough sunlight.
For kiwi to thrive, it’s best to keep the soil moist, though do not overwater them. Too much moisture can lead to root rot, killing an otherwise healthy plant. Check the soil every few days to be sure it is still damp, and add water only when needed.
When watering, check the top 2-3” of soil and water when dry. Do so until you see water leak from the drainage holes of the container. This ensures that the soil is thoroughly saturated without adding too much excess water.
Temperature and Humidity
Kiwi plants don’t love cold weather, though they are slightly more cool-weather tolerant than some other plants. When grown indoors, you should have no trouble maintaining the right temperature for these plants. The best temperatures are between 56º and 77º Fahrenheit, though they can go as low as 40º F if placed outside at times. Certain hardy varieties can go lower than this, but will still do fine indoors. Generally, older plants are better able to tolerate some cold than younger ones. Normal humidity levels are also ideal for kiwi, so you don’t need to add extra moisture to the air for this plant to stay happy. It doesn’t like windy conditions, so keep it away from furnace vents or air conditioners. This also helps prevent drastic temperature changes which can harm the plant.
All plants need some extra nutrients, especially during their growing season, and kiwi are no exception. They are heavy nitrogen feeders, though you need to be careful how you add this to prevent nitrogen burns. When grown outdoors, you can add aged mushroom compost or aged manure, though this isn’t the best option for indoor plants due to the odor of these organic materials.
A balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer is best for indoor kiwi plants. You can choose either a granular or liquid fertilizer, though you should use caution when adding it to the soil and always follow the listed instructions. Improper use could cause nitrogen burns, so add fertilizer right before watering the plant to reduce this risk. Doing so will dilute the fertilizer, giving the roots the necessary nutrients without causing damage.
Pruning is a must to maintain a healthy kiwi plant and prevent dying sections from soaking up the nutrients needed by the rest of the plant. The best time to trim the female vines is in the winter, while you can do the male plants in the summer. You may also need to do some light pruning on female plants in the summer in addition to their winter pruning.
Cut back any vines that are growing too large to help keep the plant tidy. You should also be removing any dead or dying parts of the plant to help maintain overall health.
For male plants, trim back any areas that are done flowering. With females, remove any areas that bore fruit in the previous season. These both help to stimulate new growth, and encourage the plant to continue to bloom.
Harvest time for kiwis is in autumn when the skin has changed from green to brown, the inside is bright green, and the seeds are black. If you’re unsure whether it’s the right time to pick them, select one kiwi and remove it from the plant. Give it a few days to soften, and then taste it to see if it is sweet. If so, pick the rest of the fruit off the vine. If not, give them a few more days to ripen on the vine and try again. The kiwis you don’t eat right away can be stored in the refrigerator.
To harvest, take a sharp, sterile pair of shears or similar instrument and make a clean cut to sever the kiwi from the vine. Done correctly, this won’t damage the plant at all.
Though you can grow kiwi from the seeds of the fruit, the best method is through cutting, though you’ll need to cut sections from both the male and female plants for new plants that will bear fruit. The best time to propagate is during the summer.
Begin by cutting a ½-inch section of about 5 to 8 inches in length, trimming it just below the leaf node. Leave one set of leaves at the top of the cutting and remove the rest. Then dip the cut end in rooting hormone and plant it in a pot containing high quality potting soil. Add water and place the pot into a sunny area of your home. Roots should form within 6 to 8 weeks.
Growing Kiwis Indoors
Kiwis are an excellent choice for indoor gardens for those looking for a delicious fruit to grow. While they’re a bit more involved than smaller plants, they’re actually quite easy as far as fruits grow. Keep up with the pruning, and you’ll be able to enjoy a steady stream of home-grown kiwis.
Growing Kiwi Indoors FAQ
How Many Kiwis Can You Get Per Plant?
Healthy plants will yield potentially dozens of harvestable fruits throughout the growing season. Traditional farms anticipate around 50-100 pounds per plant per year, but expect your indoor yield to be a bit lower than this.
Are Kiwi Plants Hard To Grow?
No, they’re actually quite easy, especially when compared to similar fruits. The biggest concern is making sure you have enough room for the trailing vines, and have trellis setup to support them.
Can You Grow Kiwi Indoors?
Yes, kiwi make excellent indoor plants. Make sure to provide them enough room and enough light, and you’ll be able to grow these delicious fruits indoors.