Q. Is it possible to grow kiwi in Las Vegas? I love the flowers and big leaves on the vine and am not looking for a big harvest.
A. Kiwi requires a growing season of at least 220 days which we have and that is one thing in our favor. What works against it are our low winter temperatures, strong sun, low humidity, strong winds and desert soils.
You can do it but you need put it in a warm winter microclimate somewhere in your landscape. Once Kiwi gets established, it can handle lower winter temperatures. Protecting it from freezing temperatures when it is young will be very important.
It does not like windy locations either. Wind deflectors or wind barriers will help as well.
Kiwi does not like our alkaline desert soils or soils with a lot of salt. Soil improvement and good drainages is a must.
Kiwi can handle hot, arid conditions up to about 115° F. without too much difficulty. This will run a bit contrary to what you might read in the literature.
So if you are going to make this work you will need a male and female plant. The variety Hayward is commonly used commercially for fruit production. It is grown in the Central Valley of California which can get pretty warm.
The male variety, Chico, is commonly used as a pollinator. Just make sure whichever Kiwi female you select a male that blooms at the same time as the female.
Prepare the soil thoroughly with amendments and leach the soil with lots of water before planting to remove the salts. Make sure the soil drains easily so you might want to plant in a raised bed. Plant in a location that gets morning and early afternoon sun but is protected from late afternoon sun.
Kiwi is a vine so you will need to construct some sort of trellis to support it. This is a plant that will not tolerate dry soils so make sure the soil is kept moist during the summer months. I would use a 3 to 4 inch layer of wood mulch on the surface. This will help Kiwi a lot.
Another option but not as much fun it is to grow hardy Kiwi. It will handle much lower temperatures. It has much smaller fruit but many people say the fruit is much better tasting than commercial Kiwi.