The muscadine grape, often called the scuppernong, is native to the southeastern United States. Early Spanish settlers in Florida made wine from them in the mid-1500s. Many varieties of this grape are cultivated—hybrids and the traditional heirloom variety. If you live as far north as Delaware, down to central Florida or along the Gulf coast, you should be able to purchase a muscadine vine at your nursery.
Caring for Muscadine Grape Vines
Plant your muscadine grape vine in a sunny area that has deep, fertile soil with good drainage. Pull all weeds from the area and dig a planting hole 1 to 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide. If your soil is not well-draining or if it is very sandy, combine one part organic compost with every four parts of the soil you dug out.
Cut very long roots from your vine after you remove it from its nursery pot or bag and then set it into your planting hole. Refill with the soil/compost you dug out and firm lightly with your foot. Water thoroughly by running your hose at a slow drip for about one hour.
Stake your vine by driving a wooden, metal or plastic stake into the soil about 8 inches from the vine’s base. Tie the young vine to the stake with cloth strips or nursery tape. You can train your muscadine vine on an arbor or nearby fence when it begins to send out its yearly canes.
Set up a drip irrigation system to provide adequate water for your vine, especially during its first year in the ground in May and June, according to University of Florida Extension. One 2-gallon-per-hour emitter within 1 foot of the vine will suffice. If your soil is sandy, use two or three emitters for each vine. When the vine is producing fruit in August and September, cut back on the amount of water you give it.
Fertilize each new muscadine vine with ¼ lb. of a balanced plant food once each year in April, when you first see signs of new growth. A plant food having an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 is best, according to University of Florida Extension. When your vine is two years old, increase the amount of fertilizer to 1 lb. in March and 1 lb. in June or July. When your vine is three years old and older, give it 3 lbs. of the same fertilizer in March and again in June or July.
Prune your vine in January or as late as the middle of March. Cut off all but four of the previous summer’s bearing canes all the way back to the main trunk and train it to the shape and configuration you favor.