How to Transplant Wild Muscadine Vines
Wild muscadine grapes are a tough skinned but luscious fruit that's admired for its contribution to flavorful wines, jellies and sauces. As warm-weather plants, muscadines dislike temperatures below zero, so are typically found growing wild in the American south and west. These woody grapevines are difficult to root from cuttings, and older vines do not transplant well. It's best to select year-old wild muscadines for transplanting, in late winter or early spring when the plant has gone dormant. Look for small plants with at least two nodes on the main stem.
Select a site in full sun for your row of muscadine grapevines. These grapes enjoy a slightly sloping southern exposure, free from high or cold winds.
Dig two post holes, 2 ½ feet deep, 20 feet apart, in a fertile, slightly sandy spot. Till the soil deeply from post hole to post hole, adding compost all along the length of the 20-foot row.
Place a 7-foot-long post in each post hole. Be sure the posts are buried at least two feet into the ground. These are your end posts to hold the wire that will support your grapevines as they mature.
- Select a site in full sun for your row of muscadine grapevines.
- Till the soil deeply from post hole to post hole, adding compost all along the length of the 20-foot row.
Screw in the eye-hooks on your end posts. Place one screw eye about 30 inches above the ground on each post. Place one screw eye about 5 feet above the ground on each post. The screw eyes will hold the two levels of wire strands in place.
Run two lengths of 10-gauge wire between the posts. Start with the lower strand. Staple the wire to the first post at a point just behind the lower screw eye. Run the wire through the screw eye.
- Screw in the eye-hooks on your end posts.
- Place one screw eye about 30 inches above the ground on each post.
Pull the wire to the second post. Run the wire through the lower-level screw eye. Cut the wire, leaving about an inch dangling. Staple that inch of wire securely to the end post. Repeat the process exactly for the strand of wire to be installed between the upper-level screw eyes.
Dig your transplant hole about 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide, halfway between the two end posts. Enhance the soil to be replaced in the planting hole with a shovelful of compost, worked well into the soil.
- Pull the wire to the second post.
Remove the muscadine vine to be transplanted. Be careful to dig deep and wide around the roots to avoid damaging them. Cut the vine back to the main stem or trunk, leaving two bud nodes intact.
Place the dormant muscadine grapevine into the hole. Carefully spread out its roots. Replace the soil and compost mixture, covering the roots and filling the hole about halfway. Tamp the soil down gently and water the transplant well. Finish filling the hole with soil. Sprinkle a handful of compost on top, all around the transplant hole and a few inches away from the wild muscadine vine's protruding stem. Mulch the transplant with several inches of straw.
- Remove the muscadine vine to be transplanted.
- Tamp the soil down gently and water the transplant well.
- If your young transplant is more than a few inches high, you may support it by placing an additional post behind it in the spring as it begins to grow.
- As the new growth begins from the two nodes, train the new vines to grow along the lower wire. Later vines that emerge from the main stem can be trained to grow along the upper wire.
- Don't plant more than one wild muscadine vine every 20 feet. They need 20 feet to grow properly. Add more end posts every 20 feet if you want to transplant more vines.
Kate Sheridan is a freelance writer, researcher, blogger, reporter and photographer whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and trade publications for over 35 years. She attended Oakland University and The University of Michigan, beginning her journalism career as an intern at the "Rochester Eccentric." She's received honors from the Michigan Press Association, American Marketing Association and the State of Michigan Department of Commerce.