The sight of grapevines, all in a row, is a gorgeous sight. While most gardens can’t replicate this, they will have enough space for one or a few grapevines. Here are a few tips if you want to grow a grapevine in your garden.
Grapevine growing tips: While there are different varieties of grapes, most want a sunny location and soil that drains well. Plant grapes in soil that are loose and full of nutrients. The area should have as much sun as possible, especially in the morning. Grapes need structural support to grow, such as an arbor or stakes. This will keep the vines off the ground, which will help prevent disease.
Is it hard to grow a grapevine?
It’s not especially hard to grow a grapevine. They want to grow upwards, so provide some structure for the vines to wrap around.
How to grow a grapevine at home
Decide what to plant
The first step in growing a grapevine is to decide what variety you will plant. Important considerations in this decision include what you want to use the grapes for and what type of climate you live in.
To ease your decision, you can stick to the three main types of grapes that do best in backyard gardens. These include American, European, and French-American hybrids.
If you live in a cooler climate, American grapes are the best as they are cool-hardy. For European grapes, think Mediterranean climates, which include dry, arid areas.
While hybrid varieties have plenty of benefits, including their ability to be disease-resistant and cool-hardy, they may not be as flavorful as you would like.
Another distinction to look for is if the grapevines are self-fertile. This means you don’t need to depend on pollinators for grapes to grow, which will make the growing process much easier.
Try to start with grapevines that are one year old. This way they will be strong enough to get started and you shouldn’t have too many issues with them.
It helps if you have a relationship with your local gardening center as some places will sell weaker grapevines. No matter where you purchase your grapevines, always look for ones that have been certified as being free of viruses.
The best time to plant grapevines is in the early spring. You should, however, wait until the threat of frost is over.
A mild frost may be okay, but always wait until the last hard freeze has passed.
When you get your grapevines, they will be in a dormant phase, so they often look like a stick. This is called a bare-root plant so don’t panic; it will come back to life after it is planted.
Grapes love the sun. Full sun is important for grapevines and while you can choose a location that doesn’t have afternoon sun, morning sun is essential.
For very hot locations, afternoon shade can be a bonus as it will help protect the grapes from overheating. If you don’t have natural afternoon shade, then you can install an arbor or other large structure.
As for soil, well-draining is key. Grapevines do not like their roots to get too wet, so soil that can drain properly is key.
Furthermore, the soil should be nice and loose and not compacted. Proper air circulation is essential, so don’t plant your grapevines too close to each other.
In order for grapevines to grow properly, they will need an area to climb. There are many options for this, so take a look at the natural landscape of your garden and plan accordingly.
A trellis or arbor works well and if you have a fence, that will also be useful. Be sure that the support structure is there at the time of planting so you don’t have to work backward and potentially harm your grapevines.
Keeping your grapevines off the ground will ensure they don’t succumb to disease or be infected with rot. However, make sure the structure isn’t too tall if your goal is to pick the grapes for consumption.
Prepare the grapevines
Once you receive your grapevines, you will need to prepare them for planting. Place the bare roots in a large bucket with water. Leave them there for two to three hours.
For planting, grapevines should be spaced at least six feet apart. This will seem like a long distance but remember that they spread out and don’t like to be crowded.
The holes for your grapevines should be about 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep. After digging these holes, fill the hole back in with fresh topsoil, about four inches.
Look at the roots of your grapevine. If there are any broken parts, you can trim them.
Place the root into your hole and fill it with soil. If your root came from a nursery in a pot, you want it to be slightly deeper than it was originally planted.
Keep the top of the soil you add to the hole loose as you don’t want the area to become too compacted. You should water right away to settle the area and if need be, you can add more soil to fill in the hole.
How long does it take to grow grapes on a vine?
It can take up to three years for grapes to grow on a grapevine. While your grapevine itself will grow really well in the first year, this will be mostly foliage.
Patience is key with grapevines, as even in that first year you see fruit, it will be a small yield. Still, as long as you prune properly and provide the right growing conditions, you will start to see larger and larger yields the older your vines are.
What is the best way to grow a grapevine?
Most varieties of grapes are self-fertile, which means you don’t need to worry about bees and other pollinators having access to the plants. As a result, you can employ measures to stop pests from coming too close.
Mesh nets should be strung over your grapevines to protect them from birds. This is especially important when the fruit is just starting to ripen.
Always start with quality soil when you are planting your grapevines. This will ensure you don’t need to add any fertilizer right away, which is a no-no in your first year.
It isn’t until the second year that your grapevines are growing that you can add a light amount of fertilizer. A balanced fertilizer is perfect for grapevines, so use an all-purpose 10-10-10 mix.
A decision should be made about fertilizer, however, if you are keen to keep your grapes organic. If this is the case, make sure you use an organic fertilizer or use other options such as side dressing with compost.
Adding a layer of bark mulch will help with the moisture level in your soil. Spread it around the area but be careful to not place the mulch next to the root as this can cause too much moisture and possibly rot.
Add a new layer of mulch every year. The bark mulch will naturally break down, which will add important nutrients to the soil.
The hardest part about growing grapevines is the pruning process. This can take a few years to perfect so be sure to ask others for help or look at online tutorials if you aren’t sure what to do.
The important thing to remember is that grapes are only produced on shoots that are one year old. This means that if you don’t prune your grapevines, new shoots won’t grow, and you won’t have any grapes.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that you can simply cut back your grapevines every year. While you will have new growth, they won’t reach that one-year milestone.
The best time to prune grapevines is in late winter. The plant will still be dormant, so aim for March, depending on how early your weather starts to warm up.
Where is the best place to plant a grapevine?
Sunlight and drainage are the top factors when choosing a location for a grapevine. A place that gelts all-day sun is ideal although having shade in the hot afternoon hours can be a real benefit.
Pick varieties that work with your climate so they can more easily adapt to the natural changes in daily temperatures. If you have very hot afternoons, you may want to build a structure that blocks out the sun during this time.
Drainage is another factor to consider. Don’t plant your grapevine at the bottom of a hill as the water will come down and pool into it.
The right soil will help with drainage. Aerating the soil and amending it with compost and fresh soil can break up large chunks of clay.
Grapevines need more space than other plants but it is still possible to grow them in your very own yard. Give them the right structure to stay off the ground and pay attention to your pruning schedule for the best results.