How to Grow Grape Vines
Like most plants, grape vines really like rich soil that is fairly well drained. However, they will grow well in soils heavier than most ornamental plants prefer. For one, they are very vigorous growers so soil that holds some moisture actually helps them.
New grape plants should be set out (planted) in the spring. Fall planting is not recommend in cold climates because the heaving of the soil during the freezing and thawing process can actually push freshly planted grapes vines out of the ground.
So plant in the spring so they are rooted in nicely by fall.
If planting on an arbor you can put the plants as close as 48″ apart. If you are planting them in more of a garden setting on a trellis they should be 7 to 8 feet apart. After planting wait about
7 to 10 days then apply about 8 ounces of 10-10-10 garden fertilizer. Just sprinkle the fertilizer on top of the soil, over the root zone.
Do not over fertilize. After the grape vines have been established for a year you can apply about 16 ounces of fertilizer around the root zone each of each plant in the early spring.
Grape vines need support. (no support jokes!)
You need a system for supporting your grape vines. You can put posts in the ground and stretch a heavy wire between the posts. Or two wires. Make the top one about 60″ high and the lower one about 36″ high.
As your new grape plants grow you’ll want to keep them pruned to a single vine until they almost reach the top wire, then allow the vine to grow in two directions like a “T”. Then keep the vine tied to the wire as it grows. Grape vines can easily grow as much as 12′ in a season.
In the latter part of each winter, grape vines require aggressive pruning. Left unpruned they will produce a great deal of grapes, but with that much fruit on the plant none of it will mature into quality fruit. So you control that with heavy pruning.
Leave the main vine that grows along the wire or wires, then all vines coming off of that vine need to be pruned back to just 3 to 5 nodes or buds. The nodes are the little bumps on the vine with the little curly cues growing from them. How’s that for a technical explanation?
The part of the vine that you leave is called a spur. Space the spurs that you leave evenly along the vine so they are not too close together. This part of the plant needs sunlight and good air circulation.
On a mature plant the pruning will require removing as much as 80% to 90% of the previous year’s growth.
In Ohio mid to late February is a good time to prune, so adjust your pruning around that time frame.
These varieties are all very popular and tolerate cold climates well. Concord, Niagara, Delaware, Reliance, Candice, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc.
A well maintained grape vine will produce grapes for over 30 years.
Take care, have a great day and by all means stay inspired!
Linda Walters says
We have a wild grape vine climbing up the phone pole and attaching and growing out on the power and phone lines. Our village came out and cut the vine down near the root but now we have lots of dead vines hanging from the power, phone and cable wires. How do we get rid of the vines and the mess it has created???
Not a lot you can do but pull the vines you can reach. Eventually the rest will fall off. More importantly make sure it doesn’t happen again. The root needs to come out or be killed.
Laura Mae Miller says
Thanks a lot for all the info you share!
I tried a lot of cuttings last winter. The grapes look about as nice as any of them! 🙂
I am wondering if you can give me any advice about when to pot up the new plants?
I started them in potting soil as that was what I had available. Do I pot them up now in the heat of the summer??? Or do I wait until the weather cools or wait until they are dormant?
Most of them I want to pot to sell. But also want to plant one or so myself.
Thank you very much!
Potting in the heat of summer is discouraged. You can pot them in the fall and just put in a protected area to over winter.
Randall Veal says
Hey Mike, can the hardwood cuttings during the winter pruning of the grape vines be used to root additional grape vines or do you need softwood cuttings off the plant?
You can, see this; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/01/how-to-propagate-grapes-from-hardwood-cuttings/
Bernice Hillman says
Mike, could you do a tutorial on raising blackberries & raspberries. Also, how to propagate them. Bernice
Great suggestion, I’ll try and get to that.
Scott Davis says
Hi Mike, My wife and I love your website. We have a question for you. Have you ever grown grapes in a pot? or ever heard of someone doing so?
My initial thoughts are it would be difficult, but what do you have to lose by trying.
Hi Scot, sure one can grow grapes in a pot if its at least 4-5 gal. I do grow grapes over a pergola/abor and I use the pots a ballast since the posts are not gounded but just standing on the pavement. Of course you have to water and fertilize so the groth is about a hands wide between the nobs (internodies). This will give a good ventilation and avoid problems with mildew eg. Use a ligth soil with some grawel or so in the bottom og the pot. I use both terracotta and glazed pots. I leave them out in the garden all year around even during the long cold winter we have …