The new superfruit from Southeast Asia is reminiscent of a mini kiwi. We show what you have to consider when planting and caring for the kiwi berry.
When you hear “kiwi”, you usually think of the egg-sized kiwi fruit with furry, brown skin. But only very few people know that there are over 100 species of kiwi ( Actinidia). The commercially available kiwi ( Actinidia deliciosa ) is only one of these 100 species, but most of them are so-called kiwi berries ( Actinidia arguta ) and differ greatly from the conventional kiwi. For example, kiwi berries are much more frost-resistant than these. The extremely high-yielding, undemanding plants can therefore be grown in our gardens without any problems. In this article you will find out where the kiwi berry comes from and what to consider when choosing a variety, planting, and caring for the mini kiwi.
Often referred to as the “little sister of the kiwi”, the kiwi berry has many names: It is also called grape kiwi, Chinese gooseberry, honeyberry, kokuwa, or small-fruited kiwi. We know it mainly under the name “Mini-Kiwi”. Both the kiwi and the kiwi berry belong to the Actinidiaceae family. However, kiwi berries are much smaller than kiwi fruit and have smooth, edible skin. Outwardly, the mini kiwi most closely resembles a gooseberry ( Ribes uva-crispa ). However, the sweet and sour wild fruit taste has little in common with gooseberries.
Mini kiwi: origin and characteristics
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Kiwi berries come from eastern Asia. There they grow up the trees like lianas. For some years now, mini kiwis have been grown commercially in southern Europe, but they are still rarely found in supermarkets. It is all the more appealing to grow the superfruit yourself in the garden. Kiwi berries are large, woody climbing plants that are green in summer. These loopy climbers can grow up to 6 meters in height. From April kiwi berries bloom with small, creamy-white flowers in sham umbels. The fruits can finally be harvested in September and October.
The delicious vitamin bombs can take on a wide variety of shapes and colors: Round to oblong, green, yellow-green, light, or dark red. Almost all varieties of mini kiwi are dioecious, which means that each plant only bears male or female flowers. Only the female plants bear fruit. To ensure the fertilization of the flowers, both female and male specimens must be grown in the garden.
Mini kiwi varieties
There are varieties of kiwi berries in abundance. For quick success, the varieties ‘Julie’, ‘Issai’ and ‘Cinderella’ are recommended, which are small and bear fruit from the first year after planting. With all other varieties, you have to wait until the third year to harvest the first fruits. We have put together for you which varieties are still suitable for cultivation in your garden. Note: All of these varieties are hardy.
Fruiting mini kiwi varieties:
- ‘Weiki’: This variety is also called Bavaria kiwi and is probably the best-known of the berry kiwi varieties. ‘Weiki’ kiwi berries are productive and robust
- ‘Red Jumbo’: As the name suggests, the pulp and skin of this variety are dark red to purple. The fruits are sweet and juicy. Harvest in late autumn
- ‘Julie’: This variety from Saxony is very productive. The taste of the small, dark green fruits is strong and aromatic
- ‘Rote Potsdamer’: This variety is very robust and, as the name suggests, comes from the garden of Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam. The fruits are green on the inside, the skin is light red
- ‘Cinderella’: The berries of this variety are light green, oval, and have a high vitamin C content. Very productive
- ‘Bojnice’: The fruits of the ‘Bojnice’ kiwi berries look like small apples. They taste sweet and aromatic
Mini kiwi varieties:
- ‘Issai’: This variety bears small, green, elongated fruits. ‘Issai’ kiwi berries are self-fertilizing
- ‘Jassai’: This variety of kiwi berries has a very high vitamin C content. The plant is very vigorous, productive and the fruits are light green and sweet. In addition, this variety is self-pollinating
Fertilizing mini kiwi varieties:
- ‘Amandus’: This variety is suitable as a pollinator for all mini kiwi varieties
- ‘Milano’: The male plants of this variety are also well suited as pollinators for all female mini kiwi plants
Buying Mini Kiwi: Expert Tips and Where to Buy
When buying a kiwi berry plant, you should make sure that it is free from pests and diseases and that it looks healthy. The type of mini kiwi should also be decisive for the purchase: If it is not self-pollinating, such as ‘Issai’, then you should buy a male plant for six female plants.
With a bit of luck, you can find kiwi berry plants in the garden center or hardware store near you. Since kiwi berries are still quite unknown to us, it is advisable to order from an online dealer. There you will find a large selection of different varieties. We have put together a selection of online retailers for mini kiwifruit for you.
Plant mini kiwi
Mini kiwis can be planted in spring, as soon as there is no more frost. To do this, choose a sunny to partially shaded location near the trees.
When planting the kiwi berry, do the following:
- Loosen the soil well and work in humus
- Dig the planting hole
- Put the plant in
- Fill the planting hole with compost and excavated material
- Water well
- Spread the mulch layer
The planting distance for mini kiwis should be 2 meters. As typical climbing plants, the kiwi berries also look forward to a climbing aid in the form of a trellis or a pergola.
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Caring for mini kiwi
Once the kiwi berry has been planted, it is extremely easy to care for. However, you shouldn’t neglect to water, especially on hot summer days. From the second year onwards, the mini kiwi will also be happy to receive fertilizers regularly. For this, we recommend an organic fertilizer such as compost, animal manure, or our organic universal fertilizer with organic long-term effects, which optimally and long-term supplies the mini kiwi with all the important nutrients. However, so that the vigorous plant does not overgrow your garden and the yield is increased, a regular cut of the mini kiwi is necessary.
Harvest and store mini kiwi fruit
In autumn, from September to the end of October, the mini kiwis are ripe and can be harvested. Whether the fruits are ripe is shown by the fact that – depending on the variety – they become reddish or light green and soft. It is best not to harvest each fruit individually, but always the whole vine. This way the skin does not break and the delicious fruits have a longer shelf life.
If the harvested kiwi berries are still too hard after the harvest, you can let them ripen for two to three weeks at room temperature. Ripe mini kiwis stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. If you want to store the superfruits longer, you can also freeze them without hesitation.
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Using the mini kiwi
Due to their high vitamin C and E content, delicious, fruity taste, and low-calorie content, mini kiwis can rightly be described as superfruits. They are best eaten fresh and with the skin on. You can also use the sweet fruits to bake cakes and tarts, boil them down to make jam and compote, or use them to make juice. Fresh kiwi berries are also very tasty with yogurt or in muesli.
You can find more healthy types of fruit with a lot of vitamin C in this overview.