Muscadine grapevines grow well in home gardens, adding a unique feature to your landscape as well as being a fruit-bearing plant. Muscadine vines require very similar care to other grapevines. This includes proper cultivation, watering, fertilizing and pruning. Regular pruning encourages the plant to produce new growth and more fruit. Lack of pruning results in a diminished crop of grapes and eventually no grapes at all. Learning how to prune muscadine vines requires patient and education about how the grape grows to produce fruit.
Schedule your muscadine vine pruning regularly to control early budding. This regimen will keep vines healthy and producing abundant fruits. Meticulous maintenance pruning allows the plant to produce abundant blooms and create new shoots on last year's wood.
Begin at the trunk, examining the main section of the grape plant. The trunk should extend upward and branch off into two sections in a Y shape. These branches of vines are called cordons. Grapes grow from shoots along the cordons or along branching vines that link to the cordon. Pruning involves cutting the cordon canes (thick branches) and shoots to encourage abundant foliage and flowering for fruits.
Locate any dead or damaged canes and prune these off the plant using a 45-degree cut to the nearest bud. Remove dead areas, even if this involves creating imbalance in the vine. Grapes don't grow on dead vines, so you'll be doing the plant a favor by redirecting its energy to the living portion of the plant. Use pruning clippers for pencil-width vines, loppers for thicker canes up to 2 inches and the pruning saw for larger, tougher canes.
Locate the end of a vine on one cordon and work backwards. Clip off about one third of the older canes on each cordon, leaving two to three buds spaced about 6 inches apart on the cordon. Again, use the 45-degree cut to limit wound size on the muscadine canes.
Locate the spur vines that branch off the main canes of the cordon. Clip spur vines down to a single bud per vine. Aim to create a direct, unimpeded line of vine so sections don't become strangled by overgrowth.
Clean up all debris and dispose of it properly to discourage mold growth and critters from snacking on the leaves and fruit of the grapevines.