By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer
Actinidia kolomikta is a hardy kiwi vine that is commonly known as the tricolor kiwi plant because of its variegated foliage. Also known as arctic kiwi, it is one of the most hardy of the kiwi vines, able to withstand winter temperatures as low as -40 F. (-4 C.), although it may not fruit or flower in the season following an extremely cold winter. For tips on growing tricolor kiwi, continue reading.
Tricolor kiwi is a fast growing perennial vine that is hardy in zones 4-8. It can reach heights of 12-20 feet (3.5-6 m.) with a spread of about 3 feet (91 cm.). In the garden it needs a strong structure to climb up, such as a trellis, fence, arbor, or pergola. Some gardeners train tricolor kiwi into a tree form by selecting one main vine as the trunk, pruning any low vines that sprout from this trunk, and allowing the plant to bush out only at a desired height.
Tricolor kiwi plants require both male and female plants to be present in order to produce their small, grape-sized kiwi fruit. Though these fruits are much smaller than the kiwi fruits we purchase in grocery stores, their taste is usually described as similar to common kiwi fruit but slightly sweeter.
Actinidia kolomikta, as previously stated, is known for the attractive white and pink variegation on its green foliage. Young plants may take a while to develop this foliage variegation, so do not panic if your new tricolor kiwi is all green, as the variegated color will develop in time. Also, male tricolor kiwi plants are known to have more colorful foliage than female plants. Researchers believe this is because the brightly variegated foliage attracts more pollinators than the small male flowers.
Tricolor kiwi is native to parts of Asia. It requires a partially shaded location with consistently moist soil. Tricolor kiwi cannot tolerate drought, high winds, or over fertilization, so it is important to plant it in a sheltered location with rich, moist soil.
In addition to drawing pollinators, tricolor kiwi plants are also very attractive to cats, so young plants may need some cat protection.
Tricolor kiwi stems will profusely ooze sap if broken, chewed on, or pruned during the active growing season. Because of this, any necessary pruning should be done in winter when the plant is dormant.
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Read more about Kiwi Plants
Variegated kiwi vine is an attractive woody vine that tolerates shade. The male has lovely pink, white, and green variegated leaves and small flowers that are fragrant and cream-covered. This species needs both a male and female plant to produce its sweet, grape-sized fruit. The fruits have no fuzz, and the skin is soft and tender. Best fruit production is achieved in full sun. The cultivar ‘Arctic Beauty’ has smaller leaves but is hardy to Zone 3.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsPink, white, and green foliage. Fragrant flowers. Delicious fruit.
CareFull sun or part shade and fertile, well-drained soil. Provide shelter from strong winds.
PropagationSow seed in containers in a cold frame in spring or fall. Root semi-ripe cuttings in late summer.
ProblemsVarious fungal diseases may occur.
This plant is somewhat unusual in that it prefers to be a bit moister than many other succulents. Use the finger test to determine if it is time to water: stick a finger at least 2 inches into the soil and make sure it is dry. You’ll probably end up watering about once a week, like most other succulents. During its active growing period (winter to spring), you should water it more frequently. They tend to be more forgiving of excess water than other fat plants. When it is dormant, usually the summer, water it only if you see the leaves wrinkling. Succulents that are dormant need little to no water.
Their drinking habits are, in part, to their root system. Many Aeoniums have very little in the way of roots other than an anchor and a few thin roots near the surface to drink up water. Where most succulents desire deep drenchings occasionally, the Kiwi Aeonium leans a little bit more towards less water, more often. Don’t get me wrong – you can’t go treating this like your basil plant that demands water daily. It means every 4-6 days during growing season.
Aeonium “Kiwi” is a peculiar type because they are rather tender succulents. You may notice some brown mark on the leaves of your Kiwi Aeonium. That is caused by bumps and impacts. Unfortunately, the leaves tend to bruise very quickly.
Anyhow, the plant will grow healthy leaves instead of the bruised ones if handled with care.
Aeonium Kiwi is a pretty little hybrid of Aeonium Haworthii, gaining the attention of succulent lovers because of its tricolor leaves. Degrading green leaves produce a flashing red or pink stripe around the leaves and that is why these plants step forward among all the succulents.
If you also fall in for these beautiful succulents, make sure you are aware some of its specialties which I explained in detail. After that, they are super easy and super fun to care for!