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I am killing my Kiwi and don't know how to stop!

 
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Good day to you all! I've been poking around here for a bit of time and have generally found the information I am looking for, but I have to reach out at this point because I don't know what is wrong with my Kiwi. You can scroll to the bottom for the images, and I'll put some information about the challenges I've tried to overcome and my planting method.

For a very quick history lesson, I am very new to this planting and permaculture thing, though the idea is not new to me. Academically, I have read a lot of things and watched a LOT of YouTube. I am currently trying to transform my front (grass) lawn into an all fruit and vegetable haven, and I am starting with these three Kiwi plants. I eventually want a majority of my ground cover to be strawberries, and I have about a dozen plants in pots ready for me to transplant, though I suppose I should wait until they stop fruiting...I'll burn that bridge later, first to solve the Kiwi.

I bought three kiwi bushes from a local nursery the type of kiwi are "Saanichton" (female fuzzy kiwi), "Matua" (male fuzzy), and "Issai" (self-pollinating hardy kiwi). The Hardy Kiwi had some spots on it, but it wasn't anything I was overly concerned about as I had read that Kiwi get stressed sometimes when potted and the nursery lady confirmed that information to me.

When I first planted the Kiwi I made the mistake of planting them in pure compost. I realized it later that same night and replanted them the next day in a compost, potting soil, original dirt mix and used a citrus food according to directions. I watered the kiwi every couple of days for the first week, to make sure the ground was wet being careful to not over water (I think) since I know kiwi are prone to root rot.

I noticed after about another week that my kiwi were looking wilted and not as vibrant as they had been, all except the female, she seems to be doing splendidly in her little corner of the world. I then bought and used a liquid fertilizer that was 3-2-2 I think and have used it once according to its instructions. Fast forward a couple more weeks and my kiwi now look like the pictures below. I am very concerned about my hardy kiwi as it looks the worst. The male (middle plant in the pictures) is just a little weak and I'm concerned I'll lose all of them.

I should also tell you that my soil is very rocky and I guess it could be described as sandy. When I water the kiwi I have to do it very slowly to make sure the water soaks into the dirt. The water tends to like to sit on top of the soil. I've de-thatched the ground near the kiwi, and that seems to help a little, but even the ground I dug up to plant the kiwi is not soaking the water. I've tried using a garden tool to poke holes into and around the "fresher dirt" and that helps too, but I am really worried about root rot.

I think my next step is to dig out a large area around the kiwi and replace all the old dirt with a compost/potting soil mix and see if that doesn't help. I would love to move my strawberries into the area now, even if it meant I didn't get much more fruit from them this summer, but I feel that would be certain death at this point. I am also considering digging the kiwi up completely and making their "planting bed" even deeper and larger with better dirt. I am not afraid of hard work, but I want to be certain I don't kill the kiwi in the process. I believe the dirt I have is no good, but I am also wondering if the sun loving kiwi aren't getting too much sun, as they get probably 12 hours of sun every day, and most of it is pretty direct.

Ok, I think that is about it. I hope I've provided enough information to hopefully elicit some assistance or advice. I really want to make this work, and I do NOT want my kiwi to die. I appreciate anything you lovely people have to say, if you have questions or need more pictures of different things, please let me know. Oh, and I have not trimmed the kiwi yet, the pictures you see were taken yesterday.


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Left to right - Hardy, Male, Female
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Closeup view of the wilting of the Hardy
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More of a close view of the Hardy
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Closeup of the Male
 
steward
Posts: 5376
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
2020
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The grass looks super dry to me. I'd want to be applying enough water that the grass is vibrant green for as far away from the kiwi as the plants are tall: Like 3 to 6 feet.

 
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I’m not familiar with fuzzy kiwi, but I did have an “arctic” kiwi I had planted and it started to die and wilt away (just like your pic). It had plenty of water and lots of sun. I moved it to a spot with mostly shade and it came back and is putting out new growth. The “hardy” kiwi seem to prefer full sun.
 
Steven Martinez
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
The grass looks super dry to me. I'd want to be applying enough water that the grass is vibrant green for as far away from the kiwi as the plants are tall: Like 3 to 6 feet.



I'll dethatch more and start watering the grass. I didn't much care if the grass lives as I want other stuff there, but I suppose it is indicative of the soil quality.

John Stoen wrote:I’m not familiar with fuzzy kiwi, but I did have an “arctic” kiwi I had planted and it started to die and wilt away (just like your pic). It had plenty of water and lots of sun. I moved it to a spot with mostly shade and it came back and is putting out new growth. The “hardy” kiwi seem to prefer full sun.



I'll look into trying to create some shade for the little fella to see if I can get it to thrive a bit more.
 
master steward
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This is my first year growing kiwis, so I really don't have much experience at all. Like you, I'm growing hardy kiwis. Mine haven't grown much, but they haven't withered like yours, either. Mine are in a raised bed, and I've only watered them twice this year. I'd read that kiwis really don't do well with wet feet, and since I have very wet soil during the rainy season (September through May...), I put mine in a raised bed. The soil directly under your kiwis looks wet to me. I'm thinking that you might be watering them too much? How often have you watered them this year?

The grass, like Joseph, does look very dry, but I'm thinking that's more due to how short it's cut. I've also got really gravely soil (technically "gravely loam") and so when my grass is short, it looks dead, because the roots are so short and can't reach water and the gravely soil dries out so fast.

Maybe put a layer of woodchips/mulch on top of your soil if you've been watering it a lot, and just let it be? The wood chips will add some organic moisture retention to the soil, and also act as a barrier to evaporation. It looks like kiwis can get burned by too much fertilizer, too, and you did apply some. The woodchips might help with that, too, absorbing some of the extra nitrogen?
 
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Location: Limpopo, South Africa. Sub-tropical, summer rainfall, 1200m.
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dog trees bee
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Kiwi fruit (ie not hardy kiwi) grow very well where we are in South Africa. They don't like to be overwatered in the dry months but keep the soil moist and mulch well. Having said that we have pretty high rainfall here (650 - 1200mm per year) and they do just fine. A good feed of organic compost and comfrey tea for nitrogen needs will help them. They need to be pruned and trained otherwise you will end up with tangled chaos and not much fruit. Choose a good strong main runner and prune the side shoots in the summer. For good fruit production, you should aim for 1 male to 5-8 female plants.
 
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I had sunscald.  On mine, shade cloth helped.  But mine were turning white from the center of the leave growing out so it sort of looked like a sunburn not like a transportable nutrient not getting to the ends.

Yours could be some underground sucker like garden symphlans or voles or something gnawing on the roots.  Only way I know to look for that is destructive.  Unfortunately.
 
Posts: 13
Location: Detroit, MICH zone 5b -6 United States
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I've been growing a male kiwi vine for 5 years.  It grows on my 6 foot tall dog fence companioned by a productive wild grapevine, facing West with some shade from a Maple tree about 15 feet away ( You c an see the trunk in the photo).  Because I have clay soil, I planted it in a raised bed about the size of a 20 inch diameter pot: compost and fertilizer and watered it 3-4 times a week with a hose.  I wanted afternoon shade for the dog yard and some fruit.  Both vines will cover the entire 20 foot length of fence by August, and I did get 4 gallons of wild grapes last year.  I tried to plant an Issai vine in another raised bed 30 feet away in an area with no shade at all and it withered away in about 2 months.  The raised bed had compost, amended soil, some brassicas and regular watering but I think the harsh West sun scorched it.  I bought another one and planted it 4 feet away from the male vine in late September and it's doing great.
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Male kiwi vine May 2019
 
joanna Powell
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Location: Detroit, MICH zone 5b -6 United States
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Here's a closeup of the wild grape and kiwi.  They co-exist rather well!
Male-kiwi-vine-intertwined-with-grape.jpg
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Wild grape vine intertwined with male kiwi vine
 
gardener
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Have any "weed and feed" products been used on that land over the last 10 years?
That is an important thing to know, most of that type of product are actually very persistent and will remain for years longer than the packaging would lead you to believe.

The reason I bring that up is that the growing tips are dying, this is rather indicative of poisons since the other leaves don't show signs of sunburn or any other malady.

I would get some mulch around the root ball and deep water (good sprinkler going for at least 1 hour per day, 2 hours per watering would be better) so the roots will seek to go deeper into the soil.
A compost tea can be sprayed on the plants and the surrounding soil to help mitigate any residuals that are/might be present.

I'd switch from a chemical fertilizer to something like fish emulsion and I would get some mycorrhizae growing in the soil where the kiwi roots are.

Redhawk
 
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I have a hardy issai kiwi, it was grown in a large, deep wheelbarrow for 8 years. It was healthy and survived a move from the PNW to the Inland NW and still did fine.

I was told that they do not transplant well but I didn't want it in a pot forever.
This spring I put it in the ground, mostly rocky but had aged wood chips and leaves added the last 2 years before planting.  It's in a spot that gets sun and shade.

Within a week some dieback started.
We've had a fair amount of rain and with all the mulch I hadn't been watering often. I am now watering more often and if it lives, it will get heavily mulched with chopped leaves this fall.

Not sure if I helped any but I'm thinking it needs to be watered often when newly transplanted and aside from that there isn't much more I can do.
Oh and I almost never fertilize it but have always added leaf mulch and compost.
 
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I agree, I think more water but be careful Fuzzy's can not handle their roots staying wet when young, they are very susceptible to root rot. This has been the biggest challenge for me with growing the fuzzy keeping them watered well and yet planted in a well drained spot. I should go water mine right now:)
 
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Hi
You dont mention much about what you are feeding it. Perhaps I missed it, sorry if I did.
The plants look like they might have a fungus. perhaps wilt. I also notice trace mineral deficiency on the leaves. These plants like the soil to be acid. around 6 ph is good for them. The ph level is important in nutrient absorption. Have you tried to apply a soil amendment made from leaves like oak leaves?  You might want to start a cover crop around it which will help retain water and collect nutrients.
Try foliar spraying with something like Sea90, which has 90 trace minerals. You can make your own trace minerals from around your property. Im happy to go over. You should also spray 1 cup milk in 100 gal water. The milk will provide calcium and bacteria. Both will help.
Also do you know what Brix is? Get a refractometer and test the leaves. If you have fruit, test the fruit. A healthy Kiwi should have 18+ Brix

Hope this helps


 
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Looks like it could be a micro nutrient deficiency. Maybe magnesium or iron. That’s what is causing the leaves to be yellow around the edges.
 
Steven Martinez
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Andy Lopez wrote:Hi
You dont mention much about what you are feeding it. Perhaps I missed it, sorry if I did.
The plants look like they might have a fungus. perhaps wilt. I also notice trace mineral deficiency on the leaves. These plants like the soil to be acid. around 6 ph is good for them. The ph level is important in nutrient absorption. Have you tried to apply a soil amendment made from leaves like oak leaves?  You might want to start a cover crop around it which will help retain water and collect nutrients.
Try foliar spraying with something like Sea90, which has 90 trace minerals. You can make your own trace minerals from around your property. Im happy to go over. You should also spray 1 cup milk in 100 gal water. The milk will provide calcium and bacteria. Both will help.
Also do you know what Brix is? Get a refractometer and test the leaves. If you have fruit, test the fruit. A healthy Kiwi should have 18+ Brix

Hope this helps




Thank you very much for all this important information. I bought a PH tester and some Sea90. I plan on trying foliar spraying it tonight (had to look that term up). One step at a time, if the minerals don't help I'll look into Brix testing.

Thank you, everyone, for your concern in this matter. I have a lot of work to do.

First I'm going to prune the wilted leaves from the plant, then I'll dig up a good area of soil around the plant and amend with potting soil and organic fertilizer. Next I'll put my strawberries in and work on getting that ground cover established. Meanwhile I'll be testing PH and applying trace minerals to ensure everything is where it is supposed to be.

I have a lot of work to do, but will check back in as things progress.
 
pollinator
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I started some hardy and fuzzy kiwi a couple summers ago and was struggling until recently.  I have some A.chinensis that I bought from Auburn University (AU) and they recently added some additional advice to growing kiwi. Their (AU) soil is sandy loam and mine is clay loam.  They mentioned that planting mounds need to be made where water drains off and regular watering is important. Keep it moist but not too moist.  I used "growing root cuttings" guidance from Dr. Redhawk in mixing vermiculite, sand along with compost and put this as a top layer but above a lower layer of compost and original soil mix. I then put wood chips on top of this.  I am getting a truck load of horse manure soon and will put a shovel full on each.

They (AU) have a drip irrigation system that is 4 foot off the ground and they bring down lines to water near the base and say to add another line as the vine gets bigger. I used rain bird drip 1/4 inch hoses with spray nozzle upside down.  These enable me to adjust the flow rate for the size of the vine and if they get clogged I can pop off the top and clean it out. My A. Chinensis and Hardy are loving this and I am seeing a lot of fresh growth.
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