The Q&A Archives: How do I propagate kiwi plants?

Question: My hardy kiwi plants are growing well and I want to propagate some new plants. Can I easily root cuttings of side shoots or suckers? Berniece Fleming Bern, IN

Answer: The surest way to root hardy kiwis is to work with shoots still attached to the mother plant, says Michael McConkey, owner of Edible Landscaping Nursery in Afton, Virginia, and a specialist in kiwi production. Just bend one of the low side shoots to the ground and bury a section of it two or three leaf nodes about two inches deep. About 12 inches of the very tip should stay above ground. This method is called tip layering and it works really well if you want just a few plants, says McConkey. Strip off the leaves from the section that will be underground. You may need to peg the stem section underground or hold it in place with a stone. Keep the rooting section watered. Check it after a month with a gentle tug to see if roots are developing.When the roots feel well anchored, clip the new plant free where the section from the mother plant goes below ground. If the new plant wilts, it doesn't have enough roots to support all the leaves, so cut the shoot back by half. In fall, dig the cuttings up. If their roots seem large enough to fill out a one gallon pot, then plant the new plant in its permanent spot. If the roots are small and would only fill out a four inch container, heel the new plant into a cold frame or protected area and plant in the garden next spring, says McConkey. You can also take half ripe cuttings of kiwi .

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