How to Grow Grape Vines

Overview

Growing grape vines for fruit can be a challenge. Grape vines need strong support as they grow because they can become long-lived thick plants that take up a lot of room. For fruit production, vines must be pruned and trained beginning in the second year. If a vine is planted for a screen or cover, nothing other than occasional pruning and fertilization is needed.

How to Grow Grape Vines

Step 1

Train 2-year-old plants by cutting the vine back to two buds in the early spring. This is a good time to add one cup of granulated organic fertilizer outside of the root zone and add fresh mulch around the base of the vine. Keep a two-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant, leaving an inch of space between the mulch and the main stem.

Step 2

When the weather warms, take the strongest and most vigorous vine and tie it to a pole or trellis. Cut off the other cane.

Step 3

When vine reaches the desired height (no more than 72 inches for fruit production), top the main stem or cane at a bud. Allow two buds to form near the top of the vine and grow in opposite directions. Tie them to a trellis or structure. Remove all the buds below the two main buds.

Step 4

In the third year, prune the two canes that are growing in opposite directions by cutting them back to two or three buds per cane. Remove any buds that are forming below the two dominant canes. Also, apply annual fertilizer and freshen the mulch. Allow one or two bunches of grapes to form and mature by thinning out other clusters in mid-spring. Leaving all the clusters on the vine to mature will weaken the plant and diminish the quality of all the clusters.

Step 5

Prune the vine in subsequent years to keep dominant canes viable and producing. This is where each variety will have its own requirement. Generally, prune to no more than 50 clusters per vine, but balance the quality of the grape clusters with how many you remove each year. Always fertilize and mulch every year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Buy plants that are resistant to Pierce's Disease, an incurable ailment of grape plants spread by the leaf hopper insect, a common garden pest.

Things You'll Need

  • Trellis or arbor
  • Mulch
  • Organic granulated fertilizer
  • Pruning tool

References

  • pruning backyard grapes in the first three years
  • growing grapes in the backyard fruit planting
  • growing grapes for home use
Keywords: growing grapes, grapes, pruning grape vines

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.