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How to Propagate Grapes from Hardwood Cuttings.

Last updated : 19 September 2014

Grape plants are easy to propagate from cuttings.

Most of the time they are done during the winter months when the plants are dormant.  Cuttings taken in the late fall and winter are known as hardwood cuttings because just as it sounds, the wood is much harder during the fall and winter than it is during the growing season.

Propagating grapes using hardwood cuttings.

Propagating grapes using hardwood cuttings.

It must have been really cold the day that Duston and I took these photos and shot the video because we’re inside the building and I have my hood up over my head like I just robbed a liquor store.  What you see is me sticking hardwood grape cuttings into a Homemade Plant Propagation Flat fill with a soil mix that is mostly peat moss with some perlite mixed in.  Just about any potting soil will work for propagating grapes like this.

Hardwood cutting of a grape vine.

Hardwood cutting of a grape vine.

Unlike most cuttings, grape cuttings have to be really long because the buds are so far apart. The grape cutting that I am holding in this photo is 18″ long and it has to be that long because even at that length it only has three nodes.  A node is a bud union.   See the bumps on the grape vine?  One at each end and one in the middle?  That’s where new buds will appear next growing season.  That’s also where the roots are going to appear, right around and below the bottom node.

Grape plants grow like crazy, growing as much as 13 feet in one growing season.  They grow so fast that the bud unions have a lot of space between them.

In order to make sure the grape vines produce high quality grapes grape growers prune their vines heavily during the winter to reduce the amount of grapes the vine produces the following growing season.  Too many grapes on one plant makes for a lot of really bad fruit.  So they prune to get less fruit, but really good fruit.

Grape growers throw away miles unwanted grape vines each season.

Most if not all of the grape vines that are removed from the vineyards are just tossed away or shredded and recycled.  The grape grower really has no use for them.  I used to work in a nursery that sold grape plants wholesale.  The owner of the nursery would actually send a crew out to prune grape vines for some of the local vineyards, in exchange he got the vines they removed.

They’d bundle those vines into huge bundles almost 30″ in diameter and 12 or 13 feet long.  They’d bring them back to the nursery and drop them outside of the work room, out in the cold.  It was my job to drag those bundles inside, one at a time and cut the vines into individual cuttings.  Cold, frozen grape wood is hard and I had to make 5,000 cuttings each day if I expected to get paid.  Seriously, that’s how I got paid.  I was paid 8 hours wages for 5,000 cuttings.  That was my quota, and not hitting the quota wasn’t an option.

Making a grape cuttings is super easy.  Take the entire grape vine in your hand.  If your right handed the pruning shears will be in your right hand, the grape vine in your left.  Start with the butt end of the grape vine, not the top of the vine.  You can usually tell the difference because the bud is thicker, then as you get to the other end, the very top of the grape vine, it gets much, much narrower.  However, when you remove the vines from the plants in the vineyard, be careful to keep them all oriented in the same direction so you can’t make a mistake.

With the grape vine in your left hand, the pruning shears in your right hand make your first cut about 1.5″ above the top node, then as you slide your hand down the vine remove and all side branches, usually curly cue looking things, then move to the bottom node.  The cut at the bottom node is critical.  You want to cut right below the bottom node, but not into the bottom node.  This is where the roots are going to grow and if you damage the bottom node the cutting won’t root.  But you don’t want to leave a long stub below the bottom node because this part of the cutting will be in soil, and that stub will be nothing but dead wood rotting underground.  That’s not good.

Making the bottom cut on a grape cutting.

Making the bottom cut on a grape cutting.

In the above photo the stem below the bottom node is too long and needs to be cut off.

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Propagating grape vines from cuttings.  The cut on the bottom of the cutting is critical.

Propagating grape vines from cuttings. The cut on the bottom of the cutting is critical.

There!  That’s better.  We’ve cut right below the bottom node but not into it.  Roots will form all around this node.

Making the cut on the top of the cutting is less critical and you want to intentionally cut at least 1″ above the top node if not 1.5″ above the top node.  That part of the cutting, the part that we are leaving above the node, will die back but we intentionally leave it long to serve as a handle and to protect the buds on the top node of the cutting.

Making the top cut on a grape cutting.  Notice how far away from the node we make the cut.

Making the top cut on a grape cutting. Notice how far away from the node we make the cut.

See how differently we treat the cut on the top of the cutting as opposed to the bottom of the cutting.  This also helps you to tell the top of the cuttings from the bottom as you handle them.  Should you drop a whole bundle of cuttings and they go everywhere, you will instantly know which is the top and the bottom.

Once you have your cuttings made the next step is to dip them in a rooting compound.  I like liquid rooting compounds because you buy them as a concentrate then mix with water to the strength you need.  Hardwood cuttings need a stronger solution than do softwood cuttings.  Don’t worry about the details, the instructions are on the bottle.  We often use Dip n Grow, but what brand of rooting compound you use really doesn’t matter.

Powder rooting compounds are fine, they work just as well.  They make powders for softwood cuttings and powders for hardwood cuttings.

Once you have dipped your cuttings in the rooting compound you can stick them outside your garden or you can stick them in a flat of potting soil like I am doing here.  Your cuttings will be perfectly fine outside in the cold and snow.  They won’t do a lot in the way of rooting until the temperatures get above 45 degrees F., but they will root come spring.  Ideally if you get about an 80% success rate you are doing good with hardwood grape cuttings.

Sticking harwood grape cuttings in a flat of potting soil.

Sticking hardwood grape cuttings in a flat of potting soil.

Once you have your cuttings in the flat pack the soil down tightly then water until the potting soil is thoroughly wet.  Then move the flat outside.  Do not leave the flat inside.  If you do, the tops will start to grow before the cuttings have roots and they will all fail.  They’ll be fine outside in the cold.

If the soil in your garden is not frozen you can just stick the cuttings directly in your garden.  Just take a spade and make a slice in the ground about three or four inches deep and stick the cuttings in the slit you made in the ground.  Pack the soil on both sides to make certain there are no air pockets around the base of the cuttings where you want the roots to grow.  After that thoroughly water them in to moisten the soil and to help remove air pockets.  After that just water as needed when it’s warm and dry.  If it stays cold they probably won’t need any additional water.

Questions or comments post them below and I’ll do my best to answer questions for you.

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Comments

  1. william harrigan says

    im currently growing grapes for last 5 years I have arbour that I started 2 types of grapes one on either side of arbour one is red other white . Is there a way to know if my clipings are white or red grapes ?

    • Mike says

      William,

      I’m sure there are subtle differences in the cuttings, but I’m guessing it’s going to be really hard to know which is which. Once they get leaves you might be able to compare the leaves to know what you have rooted. But that doesn’t help much when taking the cuttings. I’d just do a lot more than you need and hopefully you get enough of each.

  2. ISABELLE says

    I have just moved to So. Florida (St. Pete). I have a small balcony (11×8) that I would like to grow a cherry tomato plant on. Is there one kind better than another for this type of growing and are there other “kitchen” plants you can suggest that I can start growing in Feb? I really enjoy reading your gardening info…even though my gardening is really confined! If I had a kitchen window I would grow herbs there…(guess I’ll grow them in the bedroom window so I have a little more room on the balcony for plants you will, hopefully, suggest!) Thanks for your help. Isabelle

      • Bob Fortner says

        Hey Mke I had a thought.Remember the thing you had about propagating roses wrapped in wet news paper? Im gonna try that with some hardwood grapes cuttings and blackberries as well..I dont have any need for more of these but I like to experiment .Ill let you know how it turns out.Your friend Bob

    • Bob Fortner says

      Hey I grow a few varieties of both.For rasberry I have to dig out spaces down thru the rows because they grow in so thick.Do in early spring just as they start to come out of dormancy.Put them where you want them and they will take off fast like those strawberry bunches you buy..I grow the Heritage and the Caroline’s. Black berries It kinda depends on what variety it is.Most of them you can just dig out a clump in early spring .Preferably before they come out of dormancy.Cuttings of hardwood stems I havent had much luck with.But I want to try with the technigue used to do the roses just to see if that works.Also you can just reach down along side blackberries and find a couple of the long roots and ease them out of the ground.Cut in 6 inch pieces, plant about 2 or 2 and a half inches deep. Navaho variety doesnt work well from root cuttings,So with those I layer some tips into pots I set around the mother plant..Also you can just dig out a plant with a shovel and just put it any place you want if you do it before they get out of dormancy.Hope that helps.Feel free to email me at wisendorf@gmail.com if you have questions or just wanna talk.

  3. Sheryl Hartnett says

    Thanks so much. Mike! I have two really good purple grape plants. Last year I made a hoard of jelly AND grape pies and indiviual fruit pies. ( NEVER AGAIN!!) I have a couple of neighbors with vines. My question is, can I plant cuttings from their vines along side mine even though we might know exactly variety they are? Also, can you cut ‘sticks’ now? Keep up the good work. I am just across the river from St. Louis. HAPPY NEW. YEAR!
    Sheryl

    • Mike says

      Sheryl,

      Absolutely you can cut sticks now. Once spring arrives you have to stop cutting “sticks”. Sure you can mix and match the grape plants. you’ll know what they are when they fruit.

  4. Alan Bailey says

    Gooseberries are easier still.
    I used my gooseberry prunings as supports my peas. The peas were a failure but nearly all the prunings rooted.

  5. stephen pompa says

    Hi Mike, I have three or four grape vines blue and white grapes. This spring they will be three years old. I haven’t put them on a trellis yet. This last season, season two, I got some nice bunches. I was able to fill a large bowl with about ten bunches. This season I will trellis them old style, above, so I can walk under them. This article about starting new cuttings will work great when the uprights are in I can plant one at each upright. My question is how far down to the ground should I prune the cane. How many nodes should be on the cane coming out of the ground. Thanks for the article.

  6. says

    This is the best of the best Mike. I have tried to root grapes, grow from seeds , and
    haven’t had much luck.

    I save seed from all kinds of fruits and some trial and error but, keeps me happy, happy, happy.
    I would LOVE to purchase some grape STICKS from someone who has an abundance. I also
    want to know about muscadine grapes. Do they root the same ? Can you grow them from
    seed.

    Your info is worth a fortune. I would love to work for you for the education. Thanks for the good work.

    • Mike says

      Martha,

      I’d try them as cuttings. Seeds are usually not a good idea because a seedling will not produce a true clone of the parent plant.

    • Bob Fortner says

      Hey Martha.Muscadine and scuppydines types only seem to grow well in certain areas ,like arkansas or georgia area,,When I was a truck driver ,I bought a few allready potted from down there,But I could not get then to live past the first winter here in Michigan..You made my mouth water just talking about them.

  7. Al Simpkins says

    Mike great as usual!
    Per your video re top or bottom of the cutting.
    If we get cuttings from someone how do you determine which end is bottom as I assume that it makes a big difference?

    • Mike says

      Al,

      That’s a great question and the answer is, the seller should prune them just as I did here so you can tell. Or they should clearly tag them. But pruning them correctly makes it really difficult to mix up tops and bottoms.

  8. Larry says

    I’ve got an overabundance of grapevines growing wild for about 150 feet along the edge of the forest in my yard in SE Oklahoma, most of them around 30 to 40 feet long and growing up into the trees. Last year they had a number of bunches of rather small green grapes, but this year there were far fewer.
    I’m going to try getting some cuttings and plant them along my fenced garden with a good mixture of manure and leaf mulch in the sandy soil to see if I can turn them into viable vines that produce.
    So far, my Hydrangea cuttings are doing ok, and if they all work out I’ll have 2 dozen of them for my front yard gardens.
    My strawberry gardens are doing great, 16 inside my greenhouse, and another 28 in the fenced garden, all from the original 2 plants I purchased 2 years ago.
    The Asparagus inside the greenhouse are also doing good, although cut down for winter now, and expect my first harvest in the spring.
    I’ve also propagated my original 12 Coreopsis to 125 plants, all along my front gardens.
    Without Mike’s help and advice, I’d probably have given up landscaping my property years ago, but now am the envy of all who go by! Thanks Mike!

  9. says

    I really enjoy your talent and sharing of information. I would like to learn how to propagate cuttings form fruit and other trees and flowering shrubs that grow in the Philippines where I have family in order to help them with their livelyhood.. Any info on this will be appreciated. thanks

    • Mike says

      Mary,

      Right off the top of my head I would say, not enough sunlight, possibly too much fertilizer. I’d give them good pruning this winter. I posted a link in one of the comments to a pruning video.

  10. Al Percival says

    Mike:

    Excellent article on grape propagation! I have actually done this pretty much as you have described, and it works great.

    I was able to get some cuttings from an old Concord variety that are actually from parent vines that are at least 130 years old – an old family homestead that has had the vines for as long as they have lived there. I have made excellent wine from these grapes, and figured that the parent vines have withstood the test of time and would be very hardy and a good one to have in my grape row. I have also dug some grapes from an old vineyard that belonged to my wife’s grandfather, who had a produce market on Rt. 250 about 50 years ago in Norwalk, Ohio.

    I really enjoy your articles and think that getting your hands dirty in the soil keeps a person humble and “down to earth”. It is so neat to watch things grow.

    God bless you.

    Al Percival
    Berlin Heights, OH

  11. bobby garrett says

    Mike–I am wanting to propgate some scuppernongs.Do I do the same as with the grapes as you show?

    Thanks
    Bobby Garrett

    • Mike says

      Bobby,
      Absolutely I’d trying doing them this way, you have nothing to lose but a little bit of time. Some plants are more challenging than others, but most all can be rooted by one means or another.

  12. wesleybrown says

    I am having some problems rooting azaleas,you seem to be very successfull ,while enjoying your work.. I am going to try rooting grapes (muscadine) vines. Any help and advise will be greatly apprecated.

  13. says

    Hi Mike! thanks for the idea- and reminder that it’s time to get going on the grapes! We’re curious about grape varieties. We have a couple growing, and have a good friend who has some others, if we were to get some cuttings to root, would they be a marketable item without knowing the “exact” variety (IE purple seedless) or is there a way to find out what variety it is? Thank you for your info! We are reorganizing our life after the US economic nose dive crashed into my husbands emergent need for joint surgery and made quick work of our FORMER life. So at this point we’re seriously considering adding your system to our efforts of self employment. Thanks again for your wealth of knowledge.

    • Mike says

      Staci,

      There really is now way to know for sure what variety you have, no matter what anybody else tells you. There are just so many that are very, very similar. It’s always so much better to start out with named varieties that you are certain of the variety, no matter how generic they may be. There will be a market and you will be started off on the right foot then you can add more named varieties as time goes on. Keep in mind I used to work for a guy that did about 500,000 grapes a year and none of them were very special varieties. There is a market for just about any plant you can buy and I talk a lot about that in my Backyard Growing System.

  14. Stephen Dunn says

    I can hardly wait until spring! Among several other things, I do have grape cuttings stuck in sand beds. My varieties are Canadice, Black Spanish, Thompson’s Green Seedless, and a bronze variety of Muscadine. I gave my dad two of my rooted cuttings of Black Spanish two years ago and this year he had enough to make over a dozen bottles of wine plus a couple batches of jelly. Hopefully I will get a few cuttings off of my Concord next year.

  15. Ronald says

    Thank you for being thier. Keep up thee good work Mike. Soon as I get back to work shortly thier after, I will buy your book. Thanks again!

  16. dean bodenschatz says

    we have a rose plant in our back yard that produces roses as big as my hand is there a way to get more plants form this bush? we have tried your recommendation of taking cuttings of 6 inches or so in length scoring 1 end dip it in root growing compound wrap in wet newspaper plastic bag etc. store in a cool area for 6 weeks or so and when i unwrap them i get nothing but molded sticks.
    we have also tried the aquarium thing where we take buds are very young growth cut approx 2 inches long score the end dip in root grow put them in miracle gro potting soil moisten the soil and seal with air tight lid [where the sun hits at least 4 hrs. a day] set on a tray to allow light watering the tops do show some growth but no roots appear. can you give me any help are is it impossible to reproduce hybrid roses.

    thank you in advance for any help
    Dean

    • Karen says

      This past 6 months, I have rooted 200-plus rose cuttings from 6 of my favorite rose bushes.

      After they rooted (6wks) in a sand bed with overhead mist (Mike’s mist system), I transplanted them to a grow bed and within another 8 wks, they produced flowering rose heads.

      Although I hated doing it, I clipped off the tiny rose heads (about 3 inches down the stem), so the little bush would get thicker.

      I have not tried the rolled newspaper method. I may try hardwood cuttings from them in January or February.

  17. Lyle Hillier says

    I live in the central part of Utah. the soil is not great, but I get good harvest of tomatoes, corn and etc however I have not had great success growing grapes even though I live in the town of Vineyard. ;) I started off with 3 plants of concord and 1 “green table” grape. I can’t remember the variety. I plant new plants in the spring and they start growing just fine with perfectly green leaves. Sometime in late spring, the leaves start to turn a mottled green/yellow and the plant seems stressed. I have only had one plant last me more than one season. I have been persistent for 5 years now and I’ve only had two plants survive thru the winter into the next season however I have not had one grape and the plants do not grow larger than a small rose bush. My 1 green grape plant grows prolifically producing growth of 12 feet in either direction, but i get no grapes and the growth is dead the following year. Each year for 5 years now the new growth comes from the existing root and shows promise, but the cycle continues. Am i dealing with disease or should i be more technical with my watering cycles or fertilizer? Thoughts?

    • Mike says

      Lyle,

      Getting grapes to survive should not be a difficult thing at all. We have vineyards around here in the areas where the vineyards are the soil really isn’t all that great. In other words, we could never grow nursery where they very successfully grow grapes. That tells me that grapes are pretty easy to grow and not all that fussy about the soil they are in. Fertilizer? I’d be concerned with fertilizer. Usually less fertilizer is a lot better than more. Over fertilization can and will kill plants and if doesn’t kill them it greatly reduce fruit production.

      Secondly, what about late frost. Late frost shouldn’t kill the plants, but it will without a doubt take out flower buds.

      If you are doing well with all of your other vegetables there is no reason in the world why you can’t grow grapes. Especially, Concord, Niagara or Catawbwa. My suggestion is to plant more plants and be careful that you are not over caring for them. I know that sounds crazy, but often times it can be the case. Water them enough that they don’t dry out, back off on fertilizer and see what happens.

  18. Homayun says

    Hi Mike
    Thank you.
    I’ve 2 questions:
    1- If we lay the cutting under soil and only one node be out of soil,is it rooted?
    2- Can I propagate grape by air layering in summer?

    • Mike says

      Homayun,

      You can air layer grapes in the summer I’m sure and I would think that buy laying the cutting horizontal with one node exposed it probably would form roots from the nodes under the soil.

  19. Robert says

    Mike,
    How long of a window do you have after the vines are pruned before you have to root the vines.
    Thanks
    Robert B.
    Hays, NC

  20. Barbara Thompson says

    hey Mike M; this will seem like the dumbest question in the world, but where do you get grape vine cuttings. I’ve checked around my small area and no one seems to grow grapes. Any suggestions? By the way, you are the BEST!!!

  21. says

    Mike, I just recieved my “Small Plants, Big Profits from Home book and CD’s. Best $47.00 I’ve ever spent
    Can’t lay it down. I could just kick myself though, I have a large crop of concord grape vines and last year
    when I pruned them way back, I threw away all the vines down in the corner of my garden. They laid all
    summer in a pile. Are they useless at this stage? I’m very excited after reading your information on propagating
    grape vines. Now seems to be the time to get started before spring. You have me all excited and ready to learn
    and get dirty. That’s part of a great slogan for a shirt if you haven’t already used it., “Get Dirty” I make copies of
    all you’re news letters and place them in a folder. Great to be back! Thanks for sharing all of this knowledge with
    us. One more thing. I’m sure you already know this but my 86 year old father in law taught me to prune the grapes
    way back to where I thought I was going to kill them but they grew back with a vengeance and heavy with grapes.

    Thanks Mike,

    Broadway Joe

    • Mike says

      Joe,
      I’d say those grape cuttings are no good at this time, but don’t fret, spring and summer will be here soon and you’ll find all kinds of things to propagate.

  22. says

    Hello Mike I will try this My neighbor has beautiful grape vines.

    I have a question…I want to know how to propagate my orchard plants.
    I love them, what do I feed them? I got my plants for $1.00 each at the local supermarket, When the flowere die off they get rid of them. The girl said cut the long flower stem. And spray the plant with salt water.
    Thanks hope to hear from you., Vicki Sevierville, Tn.

    • Mike says

      Vicki,

      I really can’t help with Orchids, but spraying them with salt water seems a bit extreme to me. I’d suggest you go to Google and see what you can find out.

  23. Robert Kelley says

    Mike your site has been very informative for me. I was wondering if you could do High Bush Cranberry the same way you do pussy willow. My son has a nice hedge of High Bush and would like to extend this hedge.

  24. says

    Thank you Mike for showing the grape propagation once again. I was going to go back through my emails and find it but you included it here also so that was a blessing for me. Thank you! I learn so much from you.

  25. Todd Lohnes says

    Hi Tom. Sorry, but I had gotten out of the plant business at least 10 years ago, but I’ve always been doing something with plants every year since and today I opened up some new info. just to see what’s new.
    I have lived in quite rural areas of Nova Scotia for all of my life, but that covers pretty much all of our province anyway. Sales of plants never went very well because people would prefer paying 10 bucks for a plant at the nursery as opposed to 2 or 3 bucks at my place. It got discouraging and that’s what got me away from them for the last 10 or more years.
    I have a lot more reading to do, but as always I’d like to thank you for having such a positive attitude. I’ll get into it again.

  26. big brad spikely says

    There are some wild grapes growing nearby; what do you think of propagating these to use as rootstock/ would it be a good idea? If i did this with rose of sharon tips, will they bloom while creating roots? Thanks 4 ur time.

  27. Marci says

    If I root the grape vines directly into my soil (zone 5 in AZ, 5200 ft above sea level) can I leave them there to grow or do they need to be potted in the spring?

    And if I put them in a box like you did, how do I transplant them into my garden, vineyard (haha), or pots to give to my sisters?

    Thank you, your information is very much appreciated!

    Marci

  28. greg gruszczyk says

    Mike ,I have tried this in northern Indiana in the ground had trouble with frost pushing them out of ground. How deep can these be planted?

    Thanks Greg

    • Mike says

      Greg,
      Probably no more than 2″. Check them over the winter, or stick them in a tub of potting soil and transplant in the spring. Make sure the tub has plenty of drainage holes. Or stick them later in the winter.

  29. Elvira Townsend says

    Good morning Mike,
    I put some grape clippings in the ground on Wednesday the 19th I want to know how long before they will produce fruit.

    • Mike says

      Elvira,

      I’m really not the expert at actually growing grapes for production, but I would think that you would have some grapes next season. I just root them, pot them up and sell them.

  30. Kris says

    What if you got cuttings from an area that is still cold and grapevines are still dormant but your weather is allready hot (and allready in spring in our area) would you still plant them outside or would you cover them or how would you approach that? I have had some grapevine cuttings i started in November they are doing great (potted outside and watered when dry) i got another set in late February and potted them (by then allready in the 70’s here) and the tops looked great started budding almost immediatley but then they died off and are looking dead now but left them alone to see what happens (some of them i put on the bottom shelf so they were not sprouting right away but the ones on the top did and look dead now – the ones that were on the bottom shelf look like i am starting to get bud break on them so growing at a slower rate but look to be the survivors) so in hotter weather do you think the ones that immediatly sprouted are dead and over or do you think they will come back ? My guess is they are done and over but i am waiting for a while longer to see if anything grows (some have another bud that did not open so curious to see if will push that bud out or not others with one bud that crashed and burned not sure anything will come of them – debated trying to graft them and add another bud out of curiosity)

    • Mike says

      Kris,

      Taking a grape cutting that is completely dormant then introducing it to 70 degrees temps is hard on them. But it’s very possible that they cuttings that you got were too dry from the start and that’s why they failed. Best to do them in the dead of winter, then let things happen naturally.

  31. James Billings says

    Where can I get the best root starter for my muscadines . I really like your Website I enjoy all that you show, I’ve learned a lot that I did not know. Thanks for all your help

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