My uncle lives in Florida and recently bought a kiwi plant and was asking if I knew which companion plants aid in kiwi’s health the most. So, I did some research. Here’s what I found.

The best companion plants for kiwi vines include comfrey, currants, grapefruit, raspberries, blueberries, and passionfruit. Ideally, these plants attract pollinators, build soil, and repel pests. When planting them, choose a sunny spot with well-draining soil and allow ample space for both plants to grow and spread.

So, while these plants make good companion plants for kiwi plants, what exactly do they do to help, and what are some other plants we can use? Let’s take a closer look.

Kiwi on a vine

Companion Planting Pro Tips (Before You Start)

Layers of companion plants in a food forest graphic by couch to homestead

Companion planting is selecting specific plants to place together for benefits such as increasing pollination or controlling pests. Sometimes these benefits are one-sided, while others are mutual.

A famous example is The Three Sisters—planting corn, beans, and squash together. The corn provides a trellis for the beans to climb, the squash provides a ground cover, and the beans fix nitrogen in the soil. Plus, all of them provide food!

Here’s how to get the most from companion planting:

  1. Find your USDA hardiness zone
  2. Select plants that do well in your zone
  3. Choose the plants that fit each niche or layer in the graphic above (canopy, understory, herb layer, etc.)
  4. Plant support species first to establish a microclimate and build the soil. For example, before planting fruit trees, grow nitrogen-fixing trees, shrubs, and flowers. Plant one nitrogen fixer for each productive plant (such as fruit trees or berry bushes).

Now, let’s take a look at the best companion plants, their benefits, and other tips to place them in your garden.

1. Comfrey

Comfrey flowers

Comfrey is a multipurpose companion plant for kiwi plants. Here are some benefits:

  1. Comfrey’s leaves are extremely rich in nitrogen, which makes them great for mulching
  2. Their deep roots pull up nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, helping nearby plants have access to those nutrients as well
  3. Their leaves are traps for slugs and other pests
  4. Comfrey’s blue-purple flowers attract pollinators

A variety called Russian comfrey is useful in the garden as its seeds are sterile, making the plant non-invasive.

Comfrey is a sturdy perennial and is hard to remove once it is established, so plan its placement carefully!

2. Nasturtium

nasturtium in the garden

Nasturtiums are edible, beautiful, fast-growing, and are great companions for kiwi plants. Here are their benefits:

  1. They attract aphids away from the plant.
  2. The flowers on nasturtiums attract pollinators (usually hummingbirds), which increases the chance these pollinators will also pay a visit to your kiwi’s flowers while they’re in full bloom.

Nasturtiums come in a wide range of colors, and their sand-dollar-shaped leaves are attention-grabbing. They also have no problem growing in poor soil, as long as it’s well-draining.

You can interplant nasturtiums with any plant on this list for added color and interest next to your kiwi plant.

3. Borage

borage flowers

Benefits: Borage is an excellent companion for kiwi because it attracts beneficial insects such as bees and ladybugs, which help with pollination and pest control.

Additionally, borage accumulates minerals like calcium and potassium, which can improve kiwi overall health and even flavor.

Tips: Plant borage in a sunny spot, and space them about 12-18 inches apart. They can grow up to 3 feet tall.

What Not to Plant: Avoid planting borage near tomatoes or peppers, as it can attract pests like tomato hornworms and aphids.

4. Gooseberry (Currants)

ripe gooseberries on a branch

When used as an understory companion for kiwi, gooseberry bushes attract pollinators, shade soil, and provide mulch.

Gooseberries are a type of currant and have two main varieties: American and European. American gooseberries are native to the northeastern and northern US, including Canada, and are typically more productive than the European variety. However, the European variety commonly has larger and more flavorful fruits.

American gooseberries are similar in size and taste to grapes, and more grocery stores have recently started carrying them.

Gooseberries generally require little watering once established but need more watering if they’re exposed to the sun in hot and dry weather. For this reason, mulching and composting are vital to reduce evaporation and retain water in the soil. Additionally, providing some afternoon shade will go a long way.

In moisture-retentive soils established bushes need very little additional watering, but regular watering in hot, dry weather is a must for young plants and essential for container-grown gooseberries.

5. Grapefruit

Grapefruit on tree

Grapefruit and citrus trees are normally thorny and can grow to more than 20 feet tall.

Other than attracting pollinators with their flowers, citrus trees also provide kiwi plants with partial shade, groundwater retention (from their roots), and mulch (from their leaves and branches).

Grapefruit is also relatively easy to grow. Generally, once they have well-draining soil and enough sunlight, you just need to make sure to water them enough and keep them protected from any frost.

Other than that, you can apply a fertilizer every now and then (I like using a 2-inch layer of compost every couple of months). You can also use homemade fertilizer made from kitchen and garden waste like coffee grounds and grass clippings.

On the other hand, some cons I’ve seen with citrus trees are that they can get pests and diseases such as aphids and root rot. However, the biggest con for many growers is how long citrus trees take to grow and fruit.

Like other fruit trees, citrus trees grown from seed can take up to 7 years to fruit, and even then, there’s no guarantee the fruit is even edible! Because of this, many prefer to get grafted citrus trees from nurseries such as Fast Growing Trees. Grafted fruit trees start fruiting within 2-3 years and are generally hardier than those grown from seeds.

Other citrus tree companion plants that also work with jasmine are nasturtium, comfrey, wildflowers, and alliums.

6. Raspberries

raspberry plant in the garden

Raspberry bushes are natively from temperate climates, so they prefer cooler environments such as USDA hardiness zones 2-8.

Primarily, raspberries are excellent at attracting pollinators resulting in higher yields of kiwis.

The thick growth of raspberry bushes acts as a natural barrier against wind and extreme weather conditions.

Raspberries also offer a level of pest management for kiwi. Certain pests that are attracted to kiwi plants may be deterred by the presence of raspberry plants. The specific aroma of raspberry leaves can confuse or deter pests.

The main thing to remember is to not plant raspberries and blackberries next to one another, as they will compete for nutrients.

7. Blackberries

a blackberry plant with lots of berries

Blackberry plants are also natively from temperate climates, so they prefer cooler environments such as USDA hardiness zones 4-10

Similar to raspberries, blackberries attract pollinators, act as a natural barrier, and offer pest management for kiwi plants.

8. Blueberries

a blueberry plant with lots of berries

Both plants blueberries and kiwi prefer slightly acidic, well-draining soil and appreciate full sun to partial shade.

One of the most critical ways that blueberries benefit kiwi plants is through their attraction of beneficial insects.

Blueberries also play a significant role in pest management. Certain pests that might target kiwi plants are deterred by blueberry bushes—providing a natural form of pest control.

Lastly, both plants have different heights, with kiwi typically growing taller than blueberries. This variation in height allows for better utilization of vertical space, ensuring that neither plant overshadows the other.

9. Passionfruit

Passionfruit tree

Passionfruit and kiwi are both climbing plants that enjoy similar conditions, such as a sunny location, well-drained soil, and ample climbing space. However, companion planting between these two may be more about their shared growth requirements than mutual benefits.

Here are a few reasons why they can be considered companion plants:

  1. Climbing Supports: Both passionfruit and kiwi are vines and require sturdy support for their growth. They can be grown on the same trellis or arbor, provided it’s strong enough to support the weight of both plants when they are mature and bearing fruit.
  2. Light and Water Needs: Both plants prefer a sunny location with well-draining soil and regular watering. This means they can thrive in similar conditions.
  3. Growth Pattern: Kiwi vines can be slower to establish and less vigorous than passionfruit vines. Growing the more vigorous passionfruit can provide a natural “shade cloth” for the kiwi plant, which can sometimes be beneficial in hot climates, as kiwi plants can be sensitive to extreme heat.

10. Grapes

our grapevine growing on our wooden overhang patio

Grapevines do best in USDA hardiness zones 5-10.

Both kiwi and grapevines are climbing plants, so they have similar structural needs, but they also have their specific requirements. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Climate Needs: Both plants prefer a similar temperate climate, but the specific temperature ranges, sun exposure, and moisture levels can vary.
  2. Soil Requirements: Grapes and kiwi both need well-draining soil, though the preferred pH level can differ.
  3. Growth Habits: Both plants are vigorous growers and require plenty of space and strong support.

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