Actinidia, known as kiwi, is a genus of around 60 species of shrubs and climbing plants native to Asia.
- Habit: Actinidia species are fast-growing and can quickly cover a large trellis, wall, or fence. Some varieties, like the Hardy Kiwi (Actinidia arguta), can reach up to 30 feet 9 meters). The plants have beautiful, heart-shaped leaves that provide a lush, tropical appearance.
- Hardiness: Depending on the species, Actinidia plants can be grown in USDA zones 3 to 9. They can tolerate various conditions, although they prefer slightly acidic soil.
- Flowers: In late spring, Actinidia plants produce small, fragrant flowers. These are usually white or yellow and may be followed by ornamental fruit on female plants if a male pollinator is present.
- Uses and Benefits: Actinidia is often grown for its ornamental value and ability to provide shade and privacy as a screening plant. However, it’s also well known for its fruit. The most familiar species is Actinidia deliciosa, which produces the popular kiwi fruit. Another variety, Actinidia arguta, produces smaller fruits that are just as delicious and can be eaten whole, skin and all.
Actinidia plants are also beneficial for wildlife. Their flowers attract pollinators, and their dense growth provides shelter for birds and other small creatures.
A potential downside of Actinidia is its vigorous growth, which may require regular pruning to keep it in check. However, its benefits generally outweigh this small inconvenience, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a fast-growing, fruitful, and attractive plant for their garden.