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Propagating kiwis from softwood cuttings

Hardy kiwi softwood cuttingsOur hardy kiwi plants sulked for the first two years, but as we begin their third summer, they're suddenly acting like vines.  Each plant has put up multiple stems, the longest of which has twined for five feet along its trellis wire.  At this stage, I want the kiwis to focus their energy on one main trunk, so I clipped off the extra shoots springing up from each rootstock.  Time to propagate!

Hardy kiwis are best grown from softwood cuttings, which means cuttings taken from new growth during the summer.  (In contrast, grapes are best grown from hardwood cuttings, which are the dormant, woody stems pruned out in the winter.)  I clipped the excess kiwi stems into six inch lengths, cut off the growing tips, and then clipped each leaf in half.  Although people who want 100% success often root softwood cuttings under misters using rooting hormone and applying bottom heat, I prefer a simpler method with a lower success rate --- put an inch of water in a jar, drop in the cuttings, and ignore for three weeks.

Rooted kiwi cuttingAnd now, look --- little roots all over the ends of the cuttings!  Once the roots expand enough to feed the cuttings, I'll put my new kiwis in the ground in a permanent location.  My original kiwis arrived in late July two years ago, so I assume the nursery used the exact same tricks I did, and that these new cuttings will really take off in the summer of 2012.

Getting started with perennials is always pricey --- our three hardy kiwis came to nearly fifty bucks.  But if you're in it for the long haul, you can turn that initial investment into a large orchard.  I'll bet at this time next year, I'll be giving baby kiwi plants away to everyone who can fit one in their garden.

Our homemade chicken waterer never spills or fills with poop.


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I'll take you up on that offer for baby kiwi plants next year!
Comment by Everett Fri Jun 25 17:09:31 2010
I was thinking you might! Along with some everbearing raspberries, blackberries, and grapes, of course.
Comment by anna Fri Jun 25 17:36:34 2010

I just bought two from a garden center but I want to give some to my parents and inlaws. I'm so happy you can grow in water from the soft wood cuttings....I'll try a lot of them for a better success rate.

Thank you!

Comment by Julius Sun Mar 6 12:25:55 2011
I hope it works out for you! I put my out in the ground before they had grown enough roots, so I lost this batch, but if you don't get impatient, you should do fine.
Comment by anna Sun Mar 6 19:38:55 2011

My baby kiwi plant is three years old, i have many many kiwi growing this year but have brown sticky bugs on the stems, have sprayed them with household bug spray today - am i doing the right thing, there are far too many to remove. Will they eat the fruit or are they attacking the stems? I am in London, UK. Would appreciate your help, if possible to my email address.

Many thanks, gailgordon41@hotmail.com

Comment by gail Mon May 2 08:15:08 2011

Unfortunately, I don't know any specifics about UK bugs. However, I do have general pest control strategies that should work most places.

I've found in my own garden that when there's an infestation of bad insects, it means I've done something wrong to get the ecosystem out of whack. For example, the only time I've ever had an aphid infestation was when I overfertilized plants --- cut back the compost so that the plants have just enough and the problem goes away. Often, if you wait (no spraying!), then natural predators of your bad bugs will show up and save the day.

Comment by anna Mon May 2 08:39:26 2011
I want to try to graft a fuzzy kiwi onto my hardy artic kiwi vines. I have both male and female. I live in Zone 7, northern Virginia. First is this possible and will the fuzzy survive better on hardy rootstock. Second where can I get fuzzy scions?
Comment by Charlie Thu Feb 16 06:31:10 2012
Great article about Kiwi cuttings! I'd like to try my hand at it, but do not have a source for starts. Will you be having any spare cuttings this year? I'm looking for some and noticed that in the past you had some extra. Thank you!
Comment by Mike Messer Wed Apr 18 13:58:58 2012
Mike --- I'd be glad to give you some cuttings, but I'm not sure how our kiwis are going to do this year. They leafed out early due to a warm spring, then got nipped hard last week. I'm waiting to see if they've got enough gumption to send out a lot of new shoots or if I'm just going to have to nurse the plants along this year and hope for a better next year....
Comment by anna Wed Apr 18 16:57:13 2012
When I pruned the Hardy Kiwis earlier this year I put all the cuttings in water. About 1/4 of them have created the root nubs like in your photo but have not gone beyond that stage. I tried to plant one and the top died back part way. Time will tell, hopefully they will eventually form roots, I'll keep you posted.
Comment by Brian Thu May 24 15:01:40 2012
Brian --- If you want to learn from my failure, I recommend planting the partially rooted cuttings into pots and covering them with a plastic bag (or using some other method to ensure the soil stays very damp). I think that's what I'm going to try next, but not this year --- after several springs of having our kiwis nipped by frost and not produce, I'm starting to doubt whether the species will actually bear in our region. They need to show me some fruits before I spread their genes. :-)
Comment by anna Thu May 24 17:15:38 2012
I have just received many 21" cuttings to root (that will be about 45 cuttings for rooting) I have a grow area for carnivorous plants and expect to get 85% or better success on rooting. The person that sold me the cuttings recommended that I pot and house them the first winter after rooting due my living in zone 5. If I do I will have far to many to keep. Anna what zone do you live in? Do they die back every year?
Comment by Rose Tue Jun 19 13:27:57 2012

Rose --- There are several kiwi species. We're growing hardy kiwis, which are supposed to be winter hardy here in zone 6, fuzzy kiwis aren't as hardy, and then there's another species that's even more hardy. However, our hardy kiwis keep getting nipped back from spring freezes, so I'm withholding judgment until I get some fruit...

Good luck with all your cuttings!

Comment by anna Tue Jun 19 16:46:58 2012
I live in the Philippines. I have few kiwi seedlings from seeds.They about 1 foot now.Temperature here is at 24C -38C max., depending on the season. Do you think i will be successful in cultivating them?
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