Tuesday, 16 December 2003

Actinidia


(Actinidiacea - silver vine family)
"Kiwi fruit" About 55 species of climbing woody vines, native to Asia. Cultivated as ornamentals and for their edible fruit. Actinidias climb by twining; most species are quite vigorous and capable of growing to a large size. Plants are long-lived, having been known to produce fruit for at least 60 years. The fruit can contain several times as much vitamin C, ounce for ounce, as citrus fruits. The fruit can keep for weeks (or months, in some cases) if picked when mature but still firm and refrigerated. Tolerant of varying soil conditions, including infertile soil. Good drainage and an adequate moisture supply are needed. As is true of most other fruit plants, it is advisable to select a location with good air drainage in order to avoid spring frost injury. Not subject to serious disease or insect problems in North America at this time.

In most cases the vines produce only male or only female flowers. Only female plants will produce fruit, but male vines are usually needed for pollination. A few selections produce both female and male flowers, and will self-pollinate. Even with self-pollinating selections, however, it is probably best to include a male pollinator in the planting to assure good pollination. Under favorable conditions, the vines can yield heavy crops of fruit.

Various means can be used to provide support for the vines. They can cover trellises, arbors, or fences, or serve as a screen for porches. Overhead trellises have the advantage of making the fruit easier to pick, as it hangs below the foliage. Depending on one's gardening style, the vines can even be grown in trees. Properly pruned Actinidia vines will remain more compact, and will bear somewhat larger fruit. The vines can, however be grown quite satisfactorily without care.

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