The muscadine grape is the oldest cultivated grape in North America. It is green in spring, turning dark purple or golden bronze at maturity. Muscadines are native to the Southeastern part of the United States and will not tolerate temperatures that go below 10 degrees F. The grapes are normally large, sweet and are very resistant to disease. Muscadine grapes are commonly used to make jams, pies and wine. The time it takes to maintain the vines will depend on whether the function of the vine is for a pretty arbor or grape production.
Water the soil around the grapevines every three days in the first year May through June; once a week will be sufficient throughout the rest of the growing season. In subsequent years the vines will only need to be watered during times of very dry, hot weather.
Train the vine to a one-wire trellis system. No. 9 wire is used and run 10 feet for each vine. Wires should be run 5 feet off the ground and rows should be at least 6 feet apart. Allow the vine to grow in the middle of the 10-foot wire and stake until it reaches the wire. Cut the growing tip off the vine just as it reaches the wire. This will encourage lateral buds. Prune off any other shoots growing from the vine.
Train lateral shoots down the wire by tying them and then allowing them to grow around the wire. Cut the tie once the shoots, called cordons, take hold of the wire. Cut all shoots from the cordons until they reach the ends of the wire.
Allow side shoots to grow the season after the cordons have reached the end of the wire. These will produce the flowers and fruit. Cut these shoots back to two or three buds each year in January or February.
Apply 1/4 lb. of fertilizer per vine in April or early May and again in early July of the first year. Spread it in a circle around the vine but keep it at least 12 inches from the trunk of the vine. In later years, double the amount of fertilizer and apply in early March, May and July, keeping it at least 21 inches from the trunk of the vine.
Sprinkle 2 to 4 oz. of Epsom salts around young vines in July. Once the vines have matured you can increase to 4 to 6 oz. depending on the age of the vine.
Handpick weeds for the first two growing seasons at least 1 to 2 feet from the vines. From the third year on, you can use a low- or no-nitrogen bark mulch to help retain moisture and keep the weeds from growing.