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Nandina berries add beautiful color to a wreath.
berries image by Alan Earley from Fotolia.com

How to Dry Grape Vines

Dried grapevine wreaths form the basis of decorative wreaths for all seasons. Once coiled and weaved, these delightful vines make a sturdy base for an assortment of ornaments, dried or silk flowers, and other handcrafts to add to any home décor. Often used as a welcome wreath on the front door celebrating the changing of seasons, grapevines are easy to work with and dry in the shape you have designed.

Use fresh grapevines to form wreaths or baskets. Form simple wreaths by coiling the vines into a circle and weaving additional vines around the base until the desired fullness is reached. Follow the project instructions for forming grapevine baskets and other designs.

Hang the completed project in a dry well-ventilated area. Wreaths can be hung on the wall at this stage as long as the area is not exposed to excessive moisture.

Check vines daily and turn to dry evenly, if necessary. Wreaths require turning to form a well-rounded wreath. Drying is complete when vines are brittle and no longer pliable.

How to Refresh a Grapevine Wreath

Remove decorative items from the wreath by cutting or untwisting the ties that hold them in place. Some items may be tucked between the coils of the wreath and can be removed by tugging gently.

Vacuum the grapevine wreath to remove dust and dirt. Use the brush attachment to get into cracks and crevices.

Spray the grapevine wreath with clear varnish or fixative to highlight its natural colors. Allow the wreath to dry thoroughly in a dry, well-ventilated area. Drying time depends on the specific spray you used and the drying conditions. Refer to the can for approximate drying times.

Select new ornaments for the grapevine wreath. Wire the ornaments to wired floral picks.

Arrange the new ornaments on the wreath by tucking the floral pick between the coils of the wreath. Rearrange as necessary to get the look and feel you want.

Wire a bow to a wired floral pick and add to the top of the wreath.

Rehang the refreshed grapevine wreath.

How to Prune & Cut Grape Vines

Select the thickest part of the grapevine at its base. Hold your pruning shears at a 45-degree angle. Cut all the limbs and branches from the grapevine 4 to 6 inches up from the base of the vine.

Select one branch or limb that contains a minimum of six to eight nodes on it and is thicker around than surrounding limbs. Begin where you stopped pruning. Tie a long strip of cloth around the branch. Repeat the process until you have selected four to six branches per grapevine plant.

Select two branches at the top of the plant that contain four to six nodes on them. Tie a long strip of cloth around these two branches.

Cut all the branches on the grapevines that you have not marked with the long strips of cloth. Cut the branches completely flush with the trunk of the grapevine plants.

Remove all branches and add to your compost pile or run through a wood chipper for coarse, organic mulch.

Add a 2-inch layer of organic mulch to the base of each grapevine plant. Water until the ground is thoroughly wet, but not soaked.

How to Prune New Grapevines

Keep an eye on the grapevine during the first year to see which way it grows. If you let it develop a strong root system and lots of stems and leaves, it will create a more stable, strong new grapevine. Don't prune at all during this year.

Locate the strongest and most vigorous-looking stem on the grapevine during the first year's winter season. Use pruning shears to remove all the other stems and vines at the base of the dominant stem. Use a grape stake to support the dominant stem (which will eventually be the grapevine trunk). Stake the remaining stem, which will become the trunk of the plant.

Let the stems grow from the main trunk, and during the second year's spring, remove all of the best side shoots except for two that are growing from the trunk.

Use the pruning shears to trim back the top of the trunk during the summer of the second year. It is during this time that the grapevine will reach the optimum height, so pruning it will encourage new growth.

How to Make a Berry Wreath

Purchase a grapevine wreath approximately 9 to 12 inches in diameter. Use a circle or heart-shaped wreath. Lay the wreath on your work surface.

Select berries for your wreath, using all one type of berry or a mixture of two or more. Choose berries such as china berries, French mulberry, pepper berry, nandina berries and even small crabapples, which resemble berries.

Cut the berries with pruning shears and wear gardening gloves to protect your hands. Cut the stems or branches to about 3 to 5 inches long.

Insert the berries into the grapevine wreath. Start with the larger berries, if using more than one type, and insert the berry stem into the wreath. Continue adding berries using floral wire to secure the berry stems to the wreath. Cover the wreath completely with berries.

Add a few sprigs of eucalyptus leaves sparsely among the berries to add some contrasting color. Spray the wreath with acrylic spray to preserve it longer.

How to Prune Grapevines in the Summer

Examine the new growth on your grapevine. If the new growth has caused the vines to grow longer than 3 feet, you can prune them back.

Cut off the growth with pruning shears. This should leave the length of the remaining vines approximately 2 to 3 feet long.

Encourage the part of the vine you cut off to produce roots by dipping it in some rooting powder, planting it in moist potting soil and putting a clear, plastic bag over the top of it. In approximately three weeks, you will have a new grapevine plant.