The Q&A Archives: Kiwi leaves turning brown

Question: My kiwi vines (one male & two female) have leaves that are turning brown. I purchased the vines last winter and planted them as little twiggy looking plants. They began to grow quite nicely right away, but now the leaves appear to be browning. I've checked the water supply and soil drainage. I used an all purpose plant food on them, do you think that I may have over fertilized? My females seem to be exhibiting the symptoms more than my male. Our local climate has winter lows around 40-50 degrees and summer highs around 85-95 degrees. The majority of the time the local temp is around 65-75 year round.

Answer: Kiwis are deciduous plants so you should expect the leaves to turn brown and fall off in the winter months. (I suspect you already knew that, but I thought it was worth a mention.) If the new foliage is turning brown, it could be from over-fertilization (did you apply in amounts as recommended on the label?), or it could be a reaction to your alkaline soil. Kiwis are sensitive to salt burn in alkaline soils. You can have your soil tested, or you can dig your plants up, amend the soil with lots of organic matter (peat moss or compost with a little sulfur added), then replant. When you fertilize, use an acidified fertilizer (such as one formulated for camellias or rhododendrons to help neutralize the effects of alkaline soil). Best wishes with your kiwi plants!

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