Grapes are one of the oldest fruits that mankind has cultivated. Fossil records show that grape vines existed long before they were domesticated for human enjoyment. Farmers grew the first cultivated grapes along the Black Sea prior to 6,000 B.C. Most grapes grown in the United States today are hybrid varieties of European and native muscadine varieties that have been raised for their resistance to soil-borne North American diseases. The best way to propagate these varieties is to root shoot cuttings from existing grape vines.
Time your pruning and propagation for late fall or early spring when grapevines are dormant.
Select hardy, moderately vigorous canes from the vine. Cut each cane so that it has seven buds on it. Then, starting at the bottom of the cane, divide it into two cuttings. Each cutting should have three buds. Discard the tip and last bud.
Cut the bottom of the cane straight across with pruning shears. Cut the tip of the cane at a 45-degree angle.
Create a nursery bed for your cuttings by breaking up the soil with a rototiller in a sunny, well-drained location.
Strip leaves off the lower 2/3 of your cutting. Dip the bottom end in rooting powder.
Dig a trench in your nursery bed and set your cuttings 6 inches apart in rows that are 2 to 4 feet apart.
Bury the cuttings so that the bottom two buds are below the surface of the soil and the top bud is just above the soil's surface.
Mix a balanced (16-16-16) fertilizer into the soil around the cuttings at a rate of one cup per 10 row feet with a cultivating fork.
Cover the cuttings in winter with straw mulch to protect them from frost. Mulch lightly in summer to hold moisture into the soil and prevent weeds.
Allow cuttings to grow for a year before transplanting your grape vines to their permanent home. Transplant cuttings in early spring.
Dig up the root ball of your cutting with a shovel. Prune off long roots, broken roots and all but the longest, most healthy vine.
Dig a planting hole in the vine's permanent location that is slightly larger than the root ball. Place the root ball in the hole and cover with dirt. Mulch with straw to keep weeds from becoming established.