Thinking of adding fruit to your garden? Well, kiwi fruit plants are one of the great options you may consider. Kiwis are sweet, egg-like fruits that grow well in areas higher above sea level, typically from 2,000 feet above sea level onwards. You may be wondering, ‘can you grow kiwi in Florida?’
If you are considering adding kiwi fruits plants in your Florida garden, then you must be a risk-taker because the chances of them doing good are very low. Precisely, although kiwi plants can grow in some parts of Florida, they may not produce as they would have in other states. Florida is relatively at or below sea level, yet kiwi fruits produce well in areas of 2,000 to 6,500 feet above sea level. For the most part, this means Florida’s altitude is not ideal for kiwi fruits.
However, for adventurous fruit gardeners, planting hardy kiwi or other kiwi cultivars in Florida can be a great experience. This article covers some tips for growing kiwi and giving them care to ensure you get good produce.
Tips for planting kiwi
If you have made up your mind to plant kiwi fruit in Florida, here are a few tips that might be of great help to you.
1. Choose the correct kiwi variety.
There are several varieties of kiwi fruit that can do well in different zones. Most of the kiwi hardy varieties grow in USDA zones 5-9. For Florida, the best you can plant are the ‘Tatyana’, ‘Natasha’, and ‘Ananasnaja’ varieties.
These three varieties are hardy enough to grow in extreme conditions and can withstand colder winter temperatures up to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. For easy identification, they are mostly green and smaller than the common kiwi fruits you will find in grocery shops. The good thing is that they produce quite faster than the common kiwi.
2. Hardy kiwis are fast-growing.
Compared to other kiwi varieties, hardy kiwi that can flourish in Florida grow very fast. As such, you will need to quickly find a strong trellis to help provide adequate support and climbing space for the vines. Most of the hardy kiwi vines can grow up to 40 feet tall.
3. They have beautiful flowers with sweet fragrance
Growing kiwi plants in Florida may not reward you with sweet fruits but are sure to add color to your lawn. Kiwi plants usually bloom in stunning flowers with a joyous fragrance that attracts insects which in turn facilitate pollination.
Should pollination occur successfully, the kiwi fruits will form and continue maturing through summer and can be harvested in fall before the first frost comes down.
4. The vines require adequate sunlight
When planting your kiwi fruit plants in Florida, try to find a planting site that receives an adequate share of sunlight. The vines require at least six hours of sunlight to produce enough leaves and enough flowers that will later form fruits.
In Florida, you will need to protect the plants from frost that can damage the emerging vines. The vines should be properly spaced and be watered until they establish.
4. Kiwi are dioecious
When it comes to growing kiwi fruits, it is extremely important to note that the male and female flowers of a kiwi plant are born on separate plants. To harvest, you will, therefore, need to grow both the female and male plants in one garden. Only the female vines produce fruits but must be pollinated by the male plants. Pollination is typically done by insect pollinators and wind, so there is no need to worry as long as you have male and female plants.
5. Pruning is essential
Pruning is arguably the most challenging part of growing kiwi fruits. The best time to do pruning is in the winter when the vines are dormant and again two to three times during summer.
Use a sharp pair of pruners to prune the vines that produced fruits in the previous season as you cut back those that are crossed or dead and trim those that are yet to produce fruits. Do not prune the one-year-old branches because they are likely to produce a high number of fruits; instead, trim them to the eighth node counting from the base of the plant. The non-flowering vines should also be pruned off in the summer.
6. Mulching should be done
As with most other plants, keep the vines well mulched using shredded leaves or compost. The much should not be placed near the stem or base of the plant but be kept at least three inches away to avoid stem rot.
7. Harvest before frost falls
If the kiwi fruits aren’t ready for harvest when frost threatens to fall, harvest all of them and allow them to ripen inside the house.
Can You Grow Kiwi In Florida: Conclusion
Kiwi fruits flourish at high altitudes that Florida doesn’t afford. While this makes growing these fruits seemingly impossible, adventurous gardeners ready to take up high gardening risks may be rewarded with sweet fruits.
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