Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. It is probably best if the seed is given 3 months stratification, either sow it in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in November or as soon as it is received. Fresh seed germinates in 2 - 3 months at 10°c, stored seed can take longer. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. When the plants are 30cm or more tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts[K]. Most seedlings are male. The seedlings are subject to damping off, they must be kept well ventilated. Cuttings of softwood as soon as ready in spring in a frame[K]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very high percentage. Cuttings of ripe wood, October/November in a frame.
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Prefers a sound loamy acid soil, it dislikes alkaline soils and becomes chlorotic at pH 6 or higher. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.5 to 7.3. Succeeds in semi-shade but full sun is best for fruit production. Prefers a sheltered position. Does well when grown into trees[K]. Plants requires a 6 - 8 month frost-free growing season. They are hardy to about -12°c when fully dormant but young growth is very subject to damage by late frosts, being killed back at -2°c. Plants also require a winter chilling of 600 - 1100 hours below 7°c and a long warm summer to ripen the fruit. Plants fruit on second year wood or on fruit spurs produced on older wood, any pruning is best carried out in the winter. The flowers are sweetly scented. A very ornamental plant, it is widely cultivated in warm temperate zones for its edible fruit, there are many named varieties. The fruit can store for up to 9 months at 0°c with a relative humidity of 90%, but under domestic conditions 4 - 6 weeks is optimal. This is a rampant climbing plant, supporting itself by twining around branches etc. Plants have been seen with very good crops of fruit at the Hillier Arboretum in Hampshire in several autumns. These plants had outgrown their planned supports and had climbed 15 metres into neighbouring trees. The main problem with them would be how to harvest the fruit[K]. The female 'Heywood' is the most commonly cultivated form in Britain (1993), its fruits store well but it tends to flower late and there can be problems with pollination. The cultivar 'Blake' is said to be fast cropping and self-fertile. The male 'Tomurii' is free-flowering and disease-resistant. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Plants are usually dioecious, but hermaphrodite forms are known. However, the fruit quality and yield of these hermaphrodite forms is usually inferior. Male and female plants must usually be grown if seed is required, one male to five or six females is normally adequate.
Problems, pests & diseases
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