Q.Can you please help us with a problem we have with a Kiwi we bought. We did not know that you needed male and female and the garden centre could not tell us which it was. It is named “Paul” and the garden centre seemed to think it did not need another plant of any type male or female.
We have tried on the internet and also looked through all our garden books but cannot find “Paul”. Your help will be very much appreciated as my wife will be very disappointed if there are no fruits. I will get the blame – she usually says I’ve planted it upside down!
(B.P, 29 April 2009)
A.We are so sorry to disappoint you but we’ve been unable to find any evidence to say that Paul is a self-fertile kiwi fruit vine. In fact we can’t find any information about a variety called Paul at all! The only advice we can proffer is that its name suggests it may be male?
In which case you will need a female plant as well. Male and female flowers grow on separate plants so you need both for pollination. One male plant can pollinate up to eight female plants but they must be planted reasonably close to each other. The recommended distance apart is 5 metres. You may also like to help pollination by gathering some of the male pollen on a small brush and dusting it onto the female flowers.
Good female varieties to choose from include Abbott, Bruno, Hayward and Monty. They all crop well with good-size fruits. To be absolutely certain of fertilisation – and in case Paul turns out to be Paula! – you may be advised to buy another male plant too – just in case! Male varieties include Tomuri, Atlas and Matua.
The female, Hayward, is one of the most popular and successful plants and, as a later-flowering variety, is well-matched with the male, Tomuri.
If you’re limited for space, the variety, Jenny, is self-fertile. The resultant fruits are smaller – walnut-sized – and the plant is less hardy than other varieties and therefore unsuitable for colder areas, but if you can provide a sheltered sunny spot, Jenny will twine and climb vigorously.
Actinidia arguta Issai is also self-fertile and grape-sized fruits are produced in clusters.
The kiwi fruit vine is best grown against a south-facing wall in well-drained richly-organic soil. It needs both sun and shelter, the young shoots especially needing to be protected from frosts.
We assume you have already planted Paul in your garden, otherwise we would have advised you to return it to the garden centre. If they are unable to provide you with adequate information we recommend that you take your custom elsewhere! If you can’t find well-known named plants in your local garden centre, there are reputable nurserymen.