How to Garden Grapevines


Grapes are a favorite fruit snack and are versatile in their many uses, from jam to wine. Grapes will grow in a wide range of climate zones, from areas that experience cold winter temperatures such as Montana to warmer areas such as Texas and Southern California. If you determine your climate zone, your choice of grape varieties will be easier. For example, the Frontenac grape is winter hardy as far north as Wisconsin and Montana. The Marquis seedless grape thrives in areas with warmer winters, from USDA zones 5 through 8.

Step 1

Test your soil in a sunny area that never has standing water. Use an inexpensive soil test kit, available at nurseries. Because grapes need slightly acidic soil, if your test results show that your soil has a higher pH than 5.5 or lower than 5.0, you must amend it to correct the pH.

Step 2

Dig a planting hole in spring that is twice as large as the root ball of your bare-root grapevine. Mix one part any type of organic compost to every four parts of topsoil and then refill the hole about half full. Make planting holes about 8 feet apart if you are planting more than one grapevine. If your soil is clay, add about one gallon of sand mixed with peat moss.

Step 3

Take your grapevine out of its pot or bag and then set it into the planting hole, spreading the roots evenly over the soil at the bottom of the hole. Then fill in with additional soil/compost, making sure all roots are well-covered, but leaving the main stem above the soil surface.

Step 4

Insert a plant stake into the ground a few inches from your vine to help support it and then tie the vine to the stake with nursery tape or cloth strips.

Step 5

Water your newly planted grapevine well by running a hose at its base at a slow drip for up to one hour. Keep young vines well-watered, but don't over-water older vines.

Step 6

Fertilize your grapevine once each year in spring. You can use well-rotted animal manure, organic compost you spread on the ground as mulch, or 10 oz of a fertilizer having an N-P-K ratio of 10-20-20.

Step 7

Prune grapevines when they are dormant in winter. Grapes should be pruned severely--you need to remove up to 90 percent of the previous season's growth. Pruning grapevines is an art and pruning methods vary from variety to variety. Refer to Resources for detailed pruning instructions.

Tips and Warnings

  • Several plant diseases can affect grape vines. To help avoid bunch rot and fungal diseases, do not overhead water grapes when fruit is developing. Also keep vines properly pruned to allow for good air circulation.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test kit
  • Grapevine(s)
  • Loamy soil with good drainage
  • Sunny location
  • Compost
  • Plant stakes
  • Nursery tape or cloth strips
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • U.S. National Arboretum: Plant Hardiness Zone Map
  • Iowa State University: Grape Growing 101
  • Oregon State University Extension: Growing Grapes in Your Home Garden
  • Love to Know: Planting Grape Vines
  • Demesne: Growing grapes

Who Can Help

  • Oregon State University: Prune Grape Vines Heavily in Winter
Keywords: grapes growing, vines gardening, wine jam

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.