Kiwi (Actinidia chinensis) forms a beautiful creeping climbing plant with velvety and thick stems that become woody over time due to their vigorous development, which can reach 8 to 10 m per year. Not only does the weight and size of the stems require sturdy support, but they also need to be pruned to avoid being overwhelmed by their abundance. Do not be afraid of the lack of fruit, despite their size, your actinidia will bear fruit as long as you plant one male subject to 3 to 5 females nearby, since it is a dioecious species, unless you have a self-fertile variety!
When to prune kiwi?
Fruits, kiwi fruit, grouped in leaf axils, develop on annual shoots and at the bases of young stems, but only when the tree has reached 3 years of age. For the first two years, its training pruning will be done in winter. Only when it begins to bear fruit, it will be possible to practice pruning climbing plants once every two years.
Pruning is done twice a year with different ambitions for each intervention:
- winter pruning from January to March, outside the frost period, before the beginning of vegetation, in order to preserve the plant, clean its stems from uncontrolled development, limit its development;
- Summer pruning during the growing season, early July, then sometimes in August, to control fruiting, thin out excess fruit that will prevent good fruit.
If you are a fan of the lunar calendar, choose to prune kiwi during the waning moon, which is more favorable for good healing and recovery, choosing a fruit day.
How to prune a kiwi?
A simple pruner will suffice for pruning actinidia, but make sure it is well sharpened and perfectly disinfected to avoid any disease or viral contamination.
Kiwi formation size
Before the kiwi begins to bear fruit, often in the third year after planting, the kiwi will need to undergo what is known as a learning winter pruning.
When planting kiwi, cut the stem back to 30 cm, then next winter, around February, the shoots will have developed: cut them back to 50 cm and help them to complicate.
Next winter, you will cut the future main branches to 50 cm and pinch the new side branches with 4 or even 5 buds, always making it easier to train them.
Kiwi winter pruning
In winter, the purpose of pruning is to thin out the horns, which are often too compact due to the intertwining of the stems: therefore, it is necessary to clean up the male plants, the female plants as well as the self-fertile plants a little. To do this, you need to see things more clearly, and this begins by separating and separating the branches that are attached to each other.
This allows you to better distinguish the branches, to first eliminate the damaged or dead branches, then select the 4 to 5 strongest, which will be the only ones to save.
Finally, you can shorten the shoots that bore fruit last year to 3 buds and prune the new shoots from the previous year to 2 or 3 healthy buds above the last fruit.
Kiwi summer pruning
In the summer, it’s more of a green pruning of female and self-fertile plants, which is similar to fruit thinning with the goal of limiting the number of fruits to be grown to an interesting size.
No more than 4 to 5 hazelnut-sized fruits should be left per fruit branch: select the prettiest, removing the tiny fruits if necessary, and cut above the 4 to 5 leaves arranged after the last fruit is preserved.
If possible, intervene again in August to pinch the branches that have appeared since the previous pruning, keeping only 2 leaves. And throughout the summer, do not hesitate to remove the greedy ones, which tend to develop strongly.
Rejuvenating Kiwi Pruning
Due to the vigor of actinidia, if you find abandoned plants in your land or have missed a few episodes of pruning that have become too large, you can severely cut back the old wood in the spring, the plant will hold up well. and leave with vigor.
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