Kiwifruit, Rose of Sharon & Scale Insects

A few questions about Kiwifruits plus a recipe (!); how to over-winter a Rose of Sharon shrub in a container; and information about scale insects!
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

October 15, 2006

During a recent visit to Powell River, including driving some of the pretty residential areas, I came across this front garden with significant evergreen topiaries right at the street line. Enjoy! Author photos.

Betty Rowsell of Cambridge Ontario wrote on September 28th, with this comment and question: “Last fall, I was preparing to move this spring and you very kindly answered my question about transplanting lilies--your suggestion worked beautifully. Thanks again. Now I am living in a condo where I have plants in pots on the deck. I was given a Rose of Sharon. I have grown Rose of Sharon for years in my garden and I love them. My question is do I leave it outside in the pot for the winter or bring it indoors - or any other suggestions? Many thanks for your response.”

That, Betty, is a very difficult question. It is an outdoor plant and will not appreciate being in a warm temperature for the cold months. On the other hand, it is also a plant that is a bit on the borderline of hardiness in the Toronto area, and likely the same in Cambridge--all depending on the particular microclimate of your condo. Plants on the borderline of hardiness generally do not do well left outdoors in containers--in other words the soil in a container freezes harder than the same amount would in the ground. This is a topic I cover in detail in my book Gardening Off The Ground.

My suggestions would be; one, place the plant, container and all, in the soil in a friend’s garden so that the top rim is actually covered with the soil (not mounded up); or two, place the container in a non-heated garage, possibly up against a heated wall, and watch that it does not dry out totally. Likely there would be no need to water it more than once or twice through the whole winter. It would need no light. Both of these solutions will be far superior to bringing it indoors, unless you have a cold room; i.e. average temperatures never above two or three degrees above the freezing mark.

More recently, Bill Shook asked a couple of questions which really apply to more than just Vancouver Island: “I saw your show on Ch. 4 "The Daily Gardener" about your friend's Kiwi. I have a few questions that I hope you can answer. I live in Nanaimo and I have two kiwifruits but was told it would take up to 9 years before they would fruit. I saw the kiwifruit you showed from Parksville and wondered do kiwifruits like sandy soil. I have heard Parksville has very sandy soil, not like Nanaimo's hard pan clay. Do Kiwifruits bear off of new vines like grapes or old growth? Can you post that jam recipe on ICanGarden? I enjoy your segments on Ch. 4.”

Kiwifruit’s don’t seem to have any preference for soil; in Toronto a friend grows them in clay, while here my friends grow them in sand. They may take a few years to develop fruit, but I don’t see it taking nine or ten years. In southern Ontario ripening will be more difficult because of the shorter growing season, but the overall warmer temperatures through the summer may well compensate.

In the early spring, as the leaf buds begin to grow, cut out much of the old wood to encourage plenty of new growth which is where the fruit will be borne. Pruning the vines during the summer season will also like be necessary or you won’t be able to see the fruit. They are vines at least as vigorous as the wisterias!

Here is Louise Klimek’s recipe for Kiwifruit jam:


  • Kiwifruit, 3¾ cups prepared fruit;

  • Lemon juice, ¼ cup;

  • Sugar, 6 cups;

  • Certo liquid, 1 pouch;

  • and Butter (optional) ½ teaspoonful.

    Wash, rinse and sterilize jars, lids and rings. Keep in warm 225o oven until needed. Prepare fruit: remove stem ends and cut in half. Scoop out fruit with sharp, small spoon and remove white center core. Wear rubber gloves--the fuzz gets into skin and rubs raw.

    Measure prepared fruit into large (4 - 8 qt.) saucepan. Add lemon juice. Add ½ tsp. butter to reduce foaming. Measure exact amount of sugar, add to fruit and mix well. Do not reduce sugar. Place saucepan over high heat and bring to full, rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for one minute. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in Certo Liquid Fruit Pectin. Stir and skim for 3 - 5 minutes. Pour quickly into warm, sterilized jars to 1/4 inch from rim. Cover quickly with lids and screw rings on tightly. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes (optional). After jars are cool, test for seal. The lids should be slightly concave in the centre. Refrigerate any unsealed jars after 24 hours. Yield: 7 cups (250 ml. jars).

From somewhere in Saskatchewan, Adeline Flengeris wrote: “I would like to know how long scale lives in the soil. I had a large pot in the house that developed scale in the soil and I am wondering if I should discard the soil and put in new soil or if the scale lives in the soil for a long period of time. This happened in 2001 and I have not used that large pot since. It has spent several years in the garden shed; does frost kill scale? Thank you for your re-ply.”

Well Adeline, I am only partially sure that it is a scale insect that you had. You did not tell me what type of plant was in the container when you noted the tiny (scale) insects. And, what happened to the plant, do you still have it or did you discard it?

There are many differing scale insects; and they divide into two types: hard shell or armored scales and soft scales. It is only the latter that exude the sticky honeydew that falls to surfaces below infected plants. Generally soft scales are slightly easier to kill than the hard ones, but in all cases, the best time to kill them is when they are in their ‘crawler’ (tiny caterpillar) stage. That varies by the type of scale, but generally is somewhere between mid-May and the end of June for almost all species. At that time they can be killed with both insecticidal sprays (e.g. Doktor Doom House & Garden) and insecticidal soap sprays. However, I suggest the chemical sprays because they have a much longer period of effectiveness, and many scale insects have prolonged hatching times for the crawlers, and one spray of an insecticidal soap is only effective literally while it remains moist, thus a hatching just a few days later would go untouched whereas the 25% Permethrin in the suggested Doktor Doom product would likely still be effective.

Perhaps I should have stated first that scale insects do NOT over-winter in soil! Your container is likely free now of scale insects. That is why I asked what became of the plant that was in that container, as it may still be harboring some scale insects.

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