Muscadine grapes were the first grapes cultivated in the United States for food, condiments and wine. The grapes are native to the southeastern United States and there are many different cultivars. The muscadine vine and fruit are resistant to pests and disease and will grow anywhere the temperature does not go below 0 degrees. The fruit come in bronze or dark purple and has a sweet but lighter taste than other grapes. Although muscadine vines are not difficult to grow, they are hard to get started, so starting out with small plants from a nursery is usually your best bet for growing this type of grapes.
Choose an area that has full sun and drains well. Muscadine vines will not tolerate pooling of water around the plants. Plan planting for early spring when all threat of frost has passed.
Install the trellising system. Each vine will need a space of 10 feet long by 8 feet wide. Pressure-treated wood posts and 2-by-6-inch treated wood cross arms can be used to support a double No. 9 wire trellis system, 3 and 6 feet off the ground.
Plant the first vine 5 foot off the end post and every 10 feet from there. The holes should be dug the same depth and twice the diameter as the container you purchased the plant in. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole to make it easier for the roots to push through.
Place a handful of dolomite lime and one gallon of water into each hole. Gently remove the vine from the container and place into the hole, making sure it is at the same level it was in the container. Try not to disturb the roots unless they are very root bound in the container. In that case, spread them out with your fingers.
Fill the hole halfway and water to settle the soil. Continue to fill the hole and tamp the soil down firmly. Water to soak the roots and help them get established. The vines will need to be watered once a week for three to four hours for the first two weeks and then only when there is no rain for a week.
Train the vines by tying to a bamboo stake. Choose the strongest vine to be the main vine and prune off the rest. When the vine reaches several inches above the first wire, choose two side shoots to grow across the trellis wire. Allow the main vine to reach the second wire and choose two more strong side shoots to grow across the top wire. Cut off the tip of the main shoot and all other side shoots to encourage the main side shoots to grow.
Apply fertilizer two weeks after the vines start to grow. Keep the fertilizer 6 inches away from the vine. Use 1/4 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer the first year at two weeks after growth starts, six and 12 weeks. Use 1 lb. per vine in the second and third year.
Prune in the winter while the vines are dormant. The lateral shoots of the vines are called cordons. Cut all canes that extend from the cordons to spurs containing three or four buds.
Begin fertilizing again each year at bud break, which is when the buds start to flower, and again at six and 12 weeks.