THE most commented-upon plant in my whole garden is not one of my prize hydrangeas or the euphorbia amygdaloides I rave about to any and all visitors, or the great white oaks. No, the single most noticed plant by visitors (including Adrian Higgins of the Washington Post) is the hardy kiwi (Actinidia) that softens the look of my super-sized deck.
After "What IS that?" the next question is "Does it produce those ugly brown fruit we buy in the store?" And the answer is no – that kiwi plant isn’t cold-hardy. Hardy kiwis ARE supposed to produce berry-sized fruit, though, and I’m still waiting. Flowers appeared after 5 or so years and one would think that fruit would follow, right? The problem is that it grows like KUDZU and I hack it back several times before those berries have a chance of forming. Oh, well.
So I usually warn visitors that hardy kiwi will eat your house if you’re not diligent about cutting it back, and I hope this last photo illustrates that point. It shows about a week’s worth of growth protruding out from the railing. I kid you not – this thing grows about 25 feet a year, at least a foot a week, and the total clippings from each prune-job fill up 2 large trash cans.
Care instructions for hardy kiwi typically suggest cutting back severely in early spring and I’d say that’s a fine idea. And don’t stop cutting it back til the leaves drop.