Q: I would like to grow kiwi here. What can you tell me about it?
A: There are many problems with growing kiwifruit in Florida. The first is kiwifruit grows naturally at altitudes between 2,000 and 6,500 ft., most of Florida is at or below sea level. Ideal winter temperatures are 40 to 57 degrees with summer temperatures no higher than 77 degrees. During the winter, if temperatures fluctuate between warm and cold, blossom drop can occur which will reduce fruit production. The fruit is produced on “female” vines and requires a “male” vine for pollination. One male vine can pollinate as many as eight female vines. One of the biggest pests of kiwifruit is root knot nematodes, which are very common in our sandy soil. There have been several attempts to grow kiwifruits in northern and central Florida, and a few vines are growing experimentally in the southern part of the state and even on the Florida Keys but, so far, only the plants at Tallahassee have fruited to any extent. One other note, the fuzzy kiwifruit, Actinidia chinensis, found in grocery stores is from China. Actinidia arguta, also called hardy kiwifruit, is grown in the United States. The fruit have similar tastes but A. arguta, does not have to be peeled and can be eaten straight from the vine.