Trees

Actinidia

The Actinidia are a genus of ornamental plants large and especially agricultural interest. They can grow as small trees or as climbers, producing very pretty, large flowers. In addition, its fruits are, in most species, edible, having an acid taste but without being unpleasant.

As if this seems little to you, its cultivation in temperate regions is simple ; Not surprisingly, they are native to areas where landscapes are covered with snow during winter.

Origin and characteristics of Actinidia

Actinidia are small trees or climbers native to the temperate regions of eastern Asia, reaching as far as south eastern Siberia and as far south as Indochina. Due to this, they are able to withstand both cold and moderate frosts without problems. In addition, they do not usually exceed 6 meters in height, which is why they are grown interchangeably in pots and in the ground.

If we talk about its leaves, these are simple, with a toothed margin and petioles. The flowers are white, and can be solitary or grouped in inflorescences called corymbs. The fruits are large berries with small black seeds.

Main species

The genus is made up of 75 accepted species of the 121 that are described. However, the best known and most popular are four:

Actinidia arguta

Image – Wikimedia/ Hiperpinguino

The Actinidia arguta is a kind of vine known as kiwi kiwiño resistant or native Japan, Korea, northern China and eastern Russia. It can reach 6 meters in height, and its leaves are deciduous.

Its flowers are dioecious, having therefore female plants and male plants. Its fruits are oval berries with smooth skin and smaller than the common kiwi. These are edible, and can be eaten whole.

Actinidia chinensis

Image – Wikimedia/ JJ Harrison

The Actinidia chinensis is, particularly in the north of the Yangtze River Valley native and deciduous fruit tree of China. It grows between 6 and 9 meters, especially on slopes and ravines with altitudes between 200 and 2300 meters above sea level.

It is dioecious, that is, the female and male flowers are on different feet. These are yellowish in color. The fruits are oval berries.

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Delicious actinidia

Image – Wikimedia/ Lazaregagnidze

The Actinidia deliciosa is a deciduous climbing plant commonly known as kiwi, kiwi or actinidia. It is native to China, found mainly in the forests that are watered by the waters of the Yangtze River. It can reach a height of 9 meters, although the normal thing is that it does not exceed 5-6 meters.

It is a dioecious species, that is, the female and male flowers are on different plants. The fruits are oval berries about 6 centimeters long, with green pulp which is edible, with a subacid to quite acid flavor. The skin can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people.

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Actinidia kolomikta

The Actinidia kolomikta is a species of climber native to Russia, Korea, Japan and China that reaches 6 meters in height. Its leaves are green, but they can also be white, pink and even red, which is why it is a very interesting plant to grow in gardens.

It is dioecious, so there are male feet and female feet. Its flowers are white, and the berries are yellow, oval in shape and about 3 centimeters long.

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What care do Actinidia need?

If you dare to grow a specimen in your garden or patio, we recommend you take care of it as follows:

Location

They are plants that must be outdoors, ideally in full sun, although they tolerate a little shade. Likewise, it must be taken into account that, although its roots are not invasive, they must be planted at a distance of at least 2 meters between an Actinidia and any other plant, especially if the latter is tall; If not, you will use it as a climbing support and could end up causing problems by ‘dimming’ the leaves.

Earth

  • Pot: it is advisable to fill it with mulch, or with a special substrate for an urban garden.
  • Garden or orchard: the land must be rich in organic matter and well drained.

Irrigation

Image – Wikimedia/ Agnieszka Kwiecień, Nova

Watering must be frequent. During the summer it will be watered an average of 3-4 times a week, and the rest of the year an average of 2 weekly. However, if in doubt, check the moisture in the soil by inserting a thin wooden stick or digging a bit with your fingers.

If you have it in a pot, do not put a plate under it unless you always remember to remove any excess water after you have watered it.

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From the beginning of spring until after the summer, it should be paid with organic fertilizers, such as mulch, compost or others.

Pruning

At the end of winter, dry, diseased, weak branches and those that are broken must be removed. It should also be used to leave 3 side branches with about 20 buds per meter.

In summer it is necessary to carry out a cleaning pruning, cutting those branches that intersect, the withered flowers, removing some fruits, as well as the suckers that are growing.

Multiplication

Actinidia multiply by seeds in autumn-winter by sowing them in seedbeds, or by grafting of reed in late winter or budding in late summer.

Flower pollination

Image – Wikimedia/ Qwert1234

To make your plant bear fruit, if it is NOT grafted, you must plant a male specimen and seven female specimens near it. In this way, pollinating insects like bees will have it easier to pollinate your flowers.

Harvest

Kiwis are harvested in early fall, when they have reached their final size and feel a little soft when pressed lightly.

Rusticity

In general, they all resist frosts down to -7ºC, except Actinidia arguta, which can endure up to -18ºC.

What are Actinidia used for?

Actinidia have several uses:

  • Ornamental: they are very decorative plants, ideal for growing in pots or lattice gardens. They can provide a very nice shade.
  • Culinary: the berries they produce are edible in various species. These are usually consumed as a dessert, whether fresh, in cakes, or as a drink.
  • Medicinal: kiwis are recommended to be consumed to avoid and/ or stop constipation, as well as to improve the immune system.

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