Grape vines are hardy plants to grow, take up little space, can be trained to provide a natural barrier and best of all, you can eat the fruit! There is an almost endless variety of grapes to choose from and there are grapes to suit just about any climate. Grapes can be jellied or even used for home made wine.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Trellis or framework
- Sunny area
- Well drained soil
- Pruning shears
Pick a spot for your grape vines. If you want your vines to bear fruit, pick a very sunny spot. Most grapes will grow just fine in shaded areas but won't yield a lot of fruit. If you are growing them to provide a natural barrier or screen for a porch or deck rather than for their edible value, it's OK to plant them in shade.
Choose a grape variety. Most grape vines are fast growing, so your choice will depend on the type of grape you want. There are table, raisin and wine grapes, They come in colours from pale green to almost black. Seedless or with seeds? Sweet or tart? Some speciality nurseries even sell native wild grapes, which won't bear a lot of edible fruit but will be very hardy and well suited to your growing zone. Check all your local nurseries and do a little research on the best grape vine for both your taste and your geographic area. Most grape vines will be sold in one or two gallon pots.
Prepare the soil. Grapes grow very deep roots and do best in well drained soil. If your soil is clay rather than loamy or sandy, amend it well. Dig a hole between two and three feet deep and blend in some peat moss and compost with the existing soil. Fill it back in, tamping down moderately, leaving space for your new grape vine. Set the plant and root ball in the hole, fill all the spaces with the amended soil and water well.
Provide a sturdy trellis or wood frame for your vine to climb. Make it something that will last for years and bear the weight of thick, woody vines and abundant leaves and fruit. Grape vines can be trained to form an arbor if you build a suitable frame with one plant on each side.
Feed your grape vine about once a month during the height of growing season if you are growing it for the fruit. Otherwise grapes rarely should need water. Most thrive in hot, dry conditions.
Prune your grape vines aggressively when they are dormant. Look for the older stems (called canes) that have brown bark on them and look somewhat shaggy. These older canes will not produce grapes so cut them out, leaving the younger, smooth canes. The highest grape yield is on the one year old canes so keep the older ones cut well back. Long, skinny runners can be pruned back during the growing season to keep your vines from going out of control. Prune in late winter or very early spring, depending on your area and growing season.
Protect your grapes from birds. Birds are attracted to any fruit, including grapes. If you want to keep the grapes for yourself instead of the neighbourhood bird population, you will probably need to buy netting to protect the vines, or hang shiny strips of foil to deter them.
How to Grow Grape Vines
Tips and warnings
- Be on the lookout for a powdery or discoloured appearance on the leaves and fruit. This is probably powdery mildew. To treat it, remove all affected fruit and leaves and prune the plant so there is planty of air flow and sunlight getting to the leaves.
- Fallen dark red and black grapes can stain concrete or wood decks. Keep this in mind when choosing a location for your grape vines.