Grape Vine Growing Guide
Vitis species and hybrids, including Vitis vinifera (European grapes), Vitis lambrusca (American grapes), and Vitis rotundifolia (Muscadine grapes)
Crop Rotation Group
Well-drained soil enriched with plenty of compost.
Cold tolerance varies widely among varieties, with some newer hybrids hardy to -15°F (-26°C). Winter chilling benefits most grapes by encouraging the uniform emergence of spring buds. Muscadine grapes adapt to warmer growing conditions better than bunch grapes and require minimal winter chilling.
Drench newly planted grapes with a liquid organic fertilizer in early summer, after they have leafed out and show vigorous new growth. Repeat in their second year. Plants more than two years old are deeply rooted and need only light annual feeding in spring. A mulch helps maintain moisture for shallow surface roots, and limits splashing of soil onto the leaves in wet weather.
Single Plants: 4' 11" (1.50m) each way (minimum)
Rows: 4' 11" (1.50m) with 4' 11" (1.50m) row gap (minimum)
Sow and Plant
Set out purchased plants in spring, just as the buds on the canes begin to swell. Container-grown plants can be transplanted into early summer. Most wine grapes are grafted onto disease-resistant rootstocks, with the graft union quite high, well above the soil line.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.
Grapes are very site-specific plants, so take time to gather information about locally-adapted varieties before deciding on a planting plan. Grant favor to disease resistant varieties recommended by local fruit experts or wine makers, depending on your goal. To keep the vines healthy and productive, established grapes require thoughtful pruning twice a year, in spring and late summer. Once you have chosen a variety, learn about its pruning needs, and the type of trellis recommended for its support.
Watch grape clusters closely as they approach ripeness, and pick off individual berries with dark spots or other issues. Use tulle netting if needed to protect the fruits from birds. When a taste tells you it’s time to harvest, cut clusters from the vine in the morning, while the fruit is cool, and move it to a refrigerator or cooler. Postpone washing until just before the grapes are used.
Grape foliage and fruits are subject to numerous diseases. Powdery mildew is common, and in the US grapes are a favorite food of Japanese beetles. Check plants often for signs of trouble, and clip out unhealthy branches. Protect young plants from browsing by deer.
Planting and Harvesting Calendar
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Pests which Affect Grape Vine