Issai Kiwi Vine

Growing Zones in Ground: 6 - 9 / in Pots: 4 - 11

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Issai Kiwis, sometimes called Arctic Kiwis, are a smaller, cold hardy version of their larger fuzzy cousins. Issai Kiwis are the size of large grapes, and grow in clusters of 3 or more fruit per stem. The self-fertile vines can be grown on a trellis or fence and make great screening for privacy, or to divide areas of the garden. Mature vines will reach lengths and heights of up to 25 feet, and widths of about 8 feet. They are fast growing, like full sunlight, and grow best in USDA Zones 6 to 9.

In early spring the Issai Kiwi vines become covered with fragrant white flowers that grow in bunches. The small, smooth-skinned fruits are ready to harvest in late August. Issai Kiwis taste sweet and tangy like the larger fuzzy kiwis, but they have edible skin that makes eating the smaller fruit fun and easy. They are cold hardy down to 0º Fahrenheit, and can be grown in a wide range of soil types.

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Issai Kiwi Care

Issai Kiwi Plants will grow in any type of soil that drains well and has some organic matter. Soils rich in clay or that are too compacted for drainage should be turned and ammended with coarse sand or perlite to prevent standing water or prolonged saturation. Plant vines in spring after all chance of frost has passed. Plant new Issai Kiwi Plants in a location that gets full sun or mostly sun with some morning or afternoon shade.

Issai Kiwi Vines need support to grow upon, and it is best to provide this structure at planting time, rather than attempting to train existing vines onto the trellis once they start growing. Position new plants at the base of a fence, trellis, or arbor so the trailing vines can climb as they grow. If growing in a pot use well-draining soil and place the pot under the trellis as soon as the vine is potted. The trellis or support for an Issai Kiwi should be sturdy and about 6 feet tall. A structure suitable for grape vines will also work well for Issai Kiwis.

Fruit & Harvesting

Issai Kiwi Vines can produce fruit within their first year in the ground. Harvest the smooth green grape-sized Kiwis in late August and allow them to soften for a few days before tasting. If the fruits are not juicy, tangy-sweet, and the seeds are not yet black, wait a few more days and do another harvest, allow softening, and taste again.

Once softened fruits are juicy and tasty, the others can be picked when still hard and softened in the same way. When the Kiwis begin to soften on the vine pick all remaining fruit. Be sure to harvest all remaing Issai Kiwis before the first frost of winter. Kiwis can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Kiwis can also be used to make desserts, preserved in jellies, and frozen for later use in blended beverages.

Growing Zones


Prunning plays an important role in growing vigorous Kiwi crops and maintaining healthy Issai Kiwi Vines. When the vines are dormant prune them, remove any canes that grew kiwis in the previous season, and cut away dead or damaged vines. In the growing season, prune vines back at 4 to 6 leaves beyond the last blooms on that stem after flowers appear, but before fruit sets.

Refrain from fertilizing newly planted Issai Kiwis for the first year. Start fertilizing in spring of the second year with a balanced plant fertilizer. Issai Kiwi Vines are self-pollinating, but two or more vines growing together will produce greater yields. Water when rainfall occurs less than once per week. Water Issai Kiwi Vines with a slow deep application of water for about one hour, once per week. Do not water if the ground is damp.


What is the difference between a Kiwi and an Issai Kiwi?

The common Kiwi has brown fuzzy skin that must be peeled, the fruit is egg-sized, and male and female companion vines are required for cross-pollination and fruit growth. Issai Kiwis are smaller, grape-sized fruits with smooth edible skin, and they grow on self-fertile vines. Both have a similar, tart but sweet, tropical flavor.

When do Issai Kiwis bloom?

Issai Kiwis bloom on new growth in early spring and the fruits are ready to eat in late August.

Can Issai Kiwis be grown in pots?

Yes, Issai Kiwis can be grown in pots with holes for drainage placed in full sun. They do require a trellis or structure to grow on.

How big do Issai Kiwi vines get?

Mature Issai Kiwi vines grow to about 25 feet long, and spread to 8 feet wide, but the vines curl and grow back upon themselves so one kiwi can take up far less than 25 feet of garden space.