How to Care for a Scuppernong Grapevine

Overview

Scuppernong is a variety of muscadine grape that grows both as a cultivated variety and wild through the Eastern United States. Unlike introduced grape varieties, muscadines are known to be hearty to both pests and diseases. The fruit has a musky aroma, large seeds and a tough, leathery skin. The berry meat is light tasting and sweet, as is the juice. Because muscadines are a hearty United States native, they require less care than introduced varieties, and will often grow where introduced grapes will not.

Step 1

Test the soil's pH with a pH testing kit available in a garden supply store or by bringing a soil sample in to your local extension service. Add soil amendments by breaking up the soil of your planting site with a rototiller. Spread soil amendments on the surface of your soil and mix them with the soil by passing a rototiller over the soil again. Add limestone to raise the pH of soil and sulfur to lower the pH. The best pH for muscadines is 6.0. Do not add compost. Rich soils can stimulate growth late in the year, which can lead to frost damage.

Step 2

Plant vines in full sun and well-drained soil. Muscadines will thrive in a wide variety of soil conditions as long as the soil is well-drained. Plant muscadine vines in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Space each vine 10 feet apart in a row. Space each row 6 feet apart.

Step 3

Sink a metal post one-third of the way into the end of each row of scuppernong grapevines. Attach a row of wire to the posts 6 feet off the ground using clothesline hooks and pulleys.

Step 4

Prune your scuppernong plant down to the single heartiest vine. Trim this vine back to three buds in length. Place a bamboo training stake in the ground next to the vine and loosely tie the vine to a stake using flexible polyethylene ties to train the vine to grow onto the wire. Remove any side shoots that develop, to force the primary vine to continue growing.

Step 5

When the vine reaches the wire, pinch out the tip and allow lateral shoots to grow along the trellis wire in each direction.

Step 6

Cut back each side shoot to three buds during the winter dormant period. Allow the buds to produce vines during the summer active season.

Step 7

Fertilize a first-year vine by placing ¼ pound of granulated (10-10-10) fertilizer in an 18-inch circle around the established vine in April. Repeat every 6 weeks until July. Fertilize a second-year vine by placing ½ pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer in a 21-inch circle around the plant starting in March and then every 2 months until July. Every year after that, scatter 1 to 2 lbs. of granulated fertilizer uniformly under the plant in March and mid-June. Reduce yearly fertilizer by 20 percent if the average growth of a vine exceeds 4 feet.

Step 8

Pull all weeds by hand in a 2-foot radius of the vine for the first 2 years, to reduce competition for water and nutrients.

Step 9

Water only during dry periods. Muscadines are very drought-tolerant and do not need much water.

Things You'll Need

  • pH testing kit
  • Rototiller
  • Powdered limestone
  • Powdered sulfur
  • Scuppernog vines
  • Metal post
  • Post hole digger
  • Wire
  • Clothesline hooks
  • Clothesline pulleys
  • Pruning shears
  • Bamboo training stake
  • Polyethylene garden ties
  • Granulated (10-10-10) fertilizer
  • Garden hose

References

  • NC State University Extension: Muscadine Grapes in the Home Garden
  • University of Tennessee Extension: Grape Growing in Tennessee
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Service: Commercial Muscadine and Bunch Grape Production Guide

Who Can Help

  • NC State University Extension: Bunch Grapes in the Home Garden
Keywords: care of scuppernog grapevines, cultivating muscadine grapes, raising grape vines

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."