How to Grow Grape Vines
Grapes are certainly a multi-purpose fruit, being used for wine, baked goods, jams, and for eating fresh off the vine. With their ability to grow in many places around the world, they are a great addition to any garden.
Preparing for Planting
Choose a type of grape.As with any plant, certain types of grapes grow better in different areas and offer up different flavors and appearances. There are three general types of grapes: American, European, and Muscadine grapes. American grapes grow best in warm, sunny climates like that of central California. European grapes are common in Europe and Northern parts of the US, and Muscadine grapes are commonly found in the Southern US.
- Within each general type of grapevine, there are multiple species to choose from which each offer up their own flavor, color, texture, and size. Visit a local nursery to find one that fits your needs and environment.
- Select plants that look healthy and strong, and are 1 year old. When possible, get them certified virus-free to ensure that their healthy growth is continued.
- Look for plants that have an even root distribution, and whose canes are symmetrical.
Prepare your own grapevine cuttings.If you or a friend has another grapevine you’d like to plant from, you can take a cutting and plant it in a new location. To use your own cuttings: Cut the sections directly from the vine or from brush that has recently been pruned off. Make sure the cutting is 3 nodes long (the nodes will look like bumps). At the bottom of the cutting, make the cut at an angle. This cut should be at 45 degrees and 1/4 to 1-inch above the node.
- When taking cuttings, plant as many as possible - in as many locations as possible - to have a higher chance of success. Surplus plants can be given away.
Select a suitable location.Grapevines are long term plants that can live between 50 and 100 years. Therefore, make sure that the location you select is a permanent one that will offer up plenty of room for future grapevines. Grapevines thrive in sloped and hilly areas that offer up plenty of drainage and sunlight. When possible, plant your grapevines on a downward slope on a south-facing hill, in an area clear of other trees and large plants.
- In cold areas be sure to plant the grapevines in a sunny area, preferably facing south. A southern facing location may prevent frost nipping the vines. Also avoid "frost pockets" such as low-lying areas or the base of a slope, where cold air can pool and ruin a crop.
- If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, north-facing slopes are sunnier.
Prepare the soil.Grapevines are a bit picky about their soil conditions, so make sure your are just right before planting. Use soil that slightly rocky or sandy with a pH just above 7. Amend the soil to promote good drainage if necessary, as water-logged roots are not conducive to healthy growing grapevines.
- For best results, take a soil sample to an agricultural extension office or soil testing laboratory for a complete soil test. This is usually cheap or free. If this is not possible, test the soil pH with an at-home kit and add pH adjusters to your soil if necessary.
- Although it may seem counterintuitive, grapevines do not like soil that is too nutrient-rich. Avoid heavily fertilized soil when possible, and follow recommendations from a soil test result or an experienced local grower.
Prepare a trellis for your grapevines.Grapevines are, as the name implies, vine plants that grow upwards along a support structure. If you are not planting your grapes along a fence or other structure, construct or buy a trellis for them to grow along. This is typically a wooden structure made of intertwined boards that allow the vines to wrap around them, providing a sturdy support system.
- Latticed wood and wire can be purchased and attached to fence posts for an easy homemade trellis, if you don’t have the funds or ability to purchase or make your own.
- Don’t use a single stake (as you might for tomato plants) as this won’t provide enough support for your vines once they start growing.
Know when to plant.Wait to plant your grapevines until a frost-free day in late winter or early spring. Pruning should happen around this time in upcoming years as well. Contact your local agricultural service for exact planting dates.
Planting Your Grapevines
Plant your grapevines.Depending on the species of grapes you are planting, spacing will be different for each plant. For American and European grapes, plant each vine 6–10 feet (1.8–3.0 m) apart. Muscadines require much more space, and should be planted approximately 16 feet (4.9 m) apart. Plant the cuttings in a trench with the basal and center bud covered. The top bud should be just above the soil surface. Press the soil firmly around the newly planted grapevine cuttings.
- How deep you plant the vines will depend on the age and size of each individual plant. Don’t bury the vine cane any higher than the first bud, but make sure the roots are completely covered in soil.
Give your plants a good watering.Grapevines don’t prefer heavy water or rain, so after the first watering keep the amount of water you give them to a minimum. Keep water near the roots so that the majority of it gets absorbed rather than evaporated by the sun. If your area doesn’t get much rain, set up a drip system directly at the roots so that the grapevines get small amounts of water on a regular basis.
Prune your grapevines.The first year, the grapevine should not be allowed to produce any fully matured fruits as these can damage the young vine with their weight. Cut back all the fruit, as well as all the vines except for the strongest that branch off the cane. In later years prune as needed following established local practices, and prune back 90% of the new growth on older vines each year.
Prune vines when dormant.Always always prune grapevines when they are dormant. They will otherwise bleed their sap - losing vigour. This is typically in late winter when it is no longer cold enough to frost outside.
Apply pest control as needed.Little pest control is needed as grapevines are naturally hardy. Keep weeds at bay by hand-weeding on a regular basis, and cover you grapevines in bird net to keep birds away if necessary. Seek guidance from your local gardening club or agricultural extension on how to combat the Vine Moth. It is one of the few pests that can decimate grapevines.
- Be sure to plant the grapevines so they receive enough airflow to prevent .
- Aphids can be a problem for grapevines; ladybugs are a natural consumer of aphids and will not damage your vines further.
Harvest your grapes when appropriate.Strong, edible fruit likely won’t appear for anywhere from 1-3 years. When it appears, test its ripeness by picking a few grapes from different areas and tasting them. If the grapes are sweet, start picking as they ready for harvesting and eating.
- Grapes will not continue to ripen after picking (as is the case with other fruits) so be sure not to pick them prematurely.
- Color and size are not necessarily a good indication of ripe fruit. Only pick the fruit after you’ve tasted it and are certain it is ready.
QuestionHow long from the time you first plant a bare root vine does it take to get actual grapes?
Professional GardenerProfessional GardenerExpert AnswerAfter first planting a bare root vine, expect to wait three years for your first good grape harvest.Thanks!
QuestionMy vines are 60 years old and overgrown, How far back should I cut them?
Professional GardenerProfessional GardenerExpert AnswerWait until early spring and cut back 90% of the vine. This will give your vines a fresh start and allow them to direct their energy to new growth.Thanks!
QuestionCan I grow them from seed?Community AnswerYou can. In fact, there is a wikiHow article on this: How to Grow Grapes From Seeds. But be prepared to wait. It will probably be three or four years before you see real bunches of grapes.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I grow them in a greenhouse?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPick the right kind, the one that needs warmth, like American, give it something to climb on, and it should grow.Thanks!
QuestionShould I remove the dry leaves?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you should. If they are loose enough, you can simply pluck them off. If they are still firmly attached to the vine, you can snip them off with a clean pair of scissors instead.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I avoid getting sour grapes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFor best results: Taste a grape before picking the cluster to see if they are fully ripe. Color is not an indicator, though the natural coating should be more apparent the closer to ripe they are. Pick ripe grapes just before a rain if possible, as rain will either make the grapes split or lose flavor.Thanks!
QuestionI bought a rooted plant at a nursery and it is starting to grow in the package, reaching for something to climb. It is too cold to plant it outside, what should I do?Community AnswerPlant it in a pot, give it a stick or something else for support. Transplant it to the garden In spring.Thanks!
QuestionCan I transplant an older grapevine that is 15 years old?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. A reader transplanted one that was about 30 yrs old when it was dormant and ten years later it is still going strong.Thanks!
QuestionWould soil or mulch be better for growing grapes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUse mulch, it absorbs all the water as the grapes grow much more quickly than nothing there at all. It will also help the grapes to grow more refreshing and most of the grapes will not go moldy when mulch is in place.Thanks!
QuestionDoes grapes have to have full sunlight or can they be grown from the outside, then into the veranda roof area?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFull sun. Anything else and it will grow slowly and maybe never produce fruit.Thanks!
Can I plant sucker roots to grow a new vine? How?
Why have our grapes stopped growing They are tiny like little balls with white spots?
Is growing grapes possible here in the Philippines? And if yes what would be the best class of grapes to choose?
Why arent my grapes not ripening evenly?
- If you ever have any questions about the growth of your grapevines, call your local agricultural extension.
- Some popular wine grapes include:
- Chenin Blanc
- Some popular eating grapes include:
Sources and Citations
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of How to Grow Grape Vines was reviewed by on March 10, 2019.
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Video: How to Growing And Planting Grape Vines from cuttings - Gardening Tips
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