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How to Prune Muscadine Vine

By Heide Braley
Muscadine grapes.

Muscadine grapes are one of the most hardy grapes you can grow. Typically grown in the southeastern United States, they are disease and insect resistant, can be planted any time of the year and thrive like a weed. The scuppernong is a variety that has been cultivated since the 1500s and is still widely popular in home arbors and for making wine.

Let the vine grow the first year so that it can collect all the energy it needs from the leaf canopy. Trim the vine back if it grows past the top wire of your trellis, which is usually set 5 feet from the ground. Keep the ground clear of weeds around the base of the plant. In the fall, choose one branch to be the trunk and use a piece of string to tie it to the top wire of your trellis. Trim away the other side branches.

Trim the plant back at the end of the second year so that you have a main stem and two canes. Cut off all the remaining growth and trim back the canes so that each only has three or four buds. This will force the energy collected in the larger root base that's hidden underground to grow much heavier the following spring.

Cut out any diseased or dead wood. Make sure your pruners are well sharpened and wipe them with alcohol if you are trimming off diseased portions so you don't spread any contamination. Keep the area around the plant free so that it has good air flow. Mildew and mold are contagious around damp grapevines, so keep good air circulation.

Prune the plants each winter so that all new growth is reduced to two or three new buds. This will keep the vine in check and force better fruit production. Prune any time after the plant has entered dormancy, up to almost the last frost in your area. Late pruning may delay the onset of spring budding by a few days.

Keep the wood pruned off the top of the vine. After four or five years, remove some of the fruiting branches to force new wood. Use sheers to remove grape clusters to keep the bark from peeling back and scarring the vine.


Things You Will Need

  • Hand pruners

About the Author


Maryland resident Heide Braley is a professional writer who contributes to a variety of websites. She has focused more than 10 years of research on botanical and garden articles and was awarded a membership to the Society of Professional Journalists. Braley has studied at Pennsylvania State University and Villanova University.