How to Grow Grapes

Name: Grapes (bunch type)


**American and French hybrid bunch grapes can be grown in most areas as long as you choose varieties adapted to your area.


**Plant grapes in the spring as soon as the soil is dry enough to work. The plants need time to become established before the stresses of summer afflict them.



**Because grapes like hot weather, they are some of the latest plants to leaf out in spring. In cooler climates (zones 7a or colder), plant them where they will warm up quickly, such as the south side of a building.


**Well-drained soil is essential, but grapes do not do well in extremely fertile soils. Plants grown in fertile soils produce lots of leaves and low-quality grapes. Poor soils tend to produce moderate crops of grapes with excellent flavor.


**Hillsides are particularly good sites for grapes because they promote air drainage, which reduces the chance of late-season frosts and dries foliage more rapidly, which lessens problems with diseases.


Propagation/How to Plant:

**Prepare the soil the year before planting by killing the weeds and tilling the soil. Grapes do not compete well with weeds, so starting clean is a good idea.


**Before planting, decide on the kind of support system you want and possibly get it set up. See the following articles for some good ideas:


**Space the plants about 10 feet apart along the support system you chose.


**Do not fertilize the plants for a month after planting unless they are low in vigor/growth. Grapes should have a huge amount of growth each year, but overly vigorous plants may suffer winter damage.



**Immediately after planting, prune the plants to a single stem with 2 buds.  After new growth starts in spring, select the more vigorous cane, tie it to a stake, and remove the other cane. Allow the single cane to grow until it reaches the top wire of the trellis. It will form the permanent trunk of the grapevine. If side growth occurs near the lower wire, train 1 shoot along the wire in each direction, and remove all nearby sprouts. When the main cane reaches the top wire, pinch out the growing tip to induce branching. Train the resulting 2 sprouts along the wire in each direction.






**Remove any flowers or fruit clusters that develop anywhere in the second year. This allows energy to be directed toward good root establishment.


**In the third year spring season, prune back half of the laterals so that they will give you fruit next year.


**Once vines are into production, prune them every spring. Select 4 laterals and prune them so that only 6-10 buds remain, and these arms will produce fruit this year. Then select 4 smaller laterals and cut them back to only 2 buds each, these are renewal spurs for the laterals for the following year. Proper pruning removes about 90% of the wood on a vine.


**Prune grapes in early spring/late winter, which is during February if you live in zone 7 like me. Early spring pruning will result in sap “bleeding” from the pruning wounds. Though you might want to freak out about this, the “bleeding” does not harm the plant and will stop after a week or so. Proper pruning reduces the number of problems that grapes may have with insects and diseases.


**For young vines, apply ¼ cup 10-10-10 fertilizer (like this one) around each plant. Repeat at 6-week intervals until mid-July.


**On 2 year old vines, double the first year rates and use the same interval. Bearing vines will need 2 ½ pounds of fertilizer per plant applied in March.


**Magnesium deficiency, a yellowing between the leaf veins on older leaves, may become noticeable in midsummer. For young plants, apply 2 ounces of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts like this one) around each vine, watering it afterward. Apply 4-8 ounces per mature, bearing vine. 2-3 years may be required to bring the magnesium levels up for the best plant performance.


**Insects such as the Japanese beetles and aphids may attack grapes as well as diseases such as black rot and Pierce’s disease. Careful understanding of local techniques with these problems will be beneficial.



**Grapes mature in late summer to early fall. Full color is not the only indicator of maturity. At maturity, the seeds and the cluster stems turn brown and the berries attain maximum sweetness. Harvest and enjoy!


Varieties I want to try:

White Aurora: good for wine and eating fresh

Red Delaware: small but sweet, makes good red wine

Black Baco Noir: good for clay soils and for making wine



Question of the Day:

Which varieties have you grown or want to grow? I would love some suggestions!


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Comments (14)

I have a single grapevine that produced this year. I am ashamed to say I cannot recall how long ago I planted it, and even more ashamed to admit I’ve done nothing to it….ever, other than create a trellis for it to cling to. This information is much appreciated since I was just wondering if I should prune it this fall. Now I’ll wait till spring. Thanks again!


Thanks for visiting my site! I hope your grapes prosper! What variety are you growing?

Just thought you might want to know, all of your follow tabs at the top of the page (except FB) take me to pinterest. I’d rather follow via google reader since I don’t always see everything on FB. I am following you via FB, though, as well as pinterest.


Thanks. I do not have google reader set up yet, but I will work on that as soon as I can. I had to choose links for all four but I only have pinterest and facebook, so I just copied the pinterest link for the other two. Thanks for reminding me about google reader! 🙂

I planted a grapevine (don’t remember variety) two years ago and didn’t do anything to it. It spread like crazy last year with lots of grapes that were small and rather bitter. Read some articles like yours and found that it needed careful pruning. It is now mid May in Pittsburgh, is it too late to prune it?

It does need pruning. If you are careful, I think you can prune in summer if you do it carefully. If you are new to pruning, you might want to talk to a local master gardener in your area for some advice. I would hate for you to harm your grape vines!

I just had a problem with caterpillars (western grape leaf skeletonizers) by using Sevin worked great, but know I am having a problem with the birds eating the grapes and my ripe tomatoes. I have covered my two grapevines and the tomatoes with netting and they are doing much better. My question is, How do farmers or anyone with a garden get rid of the birds? I grew up in a small town and had HUGE gardens and we never seemed to have this kind of problem. Now I live in a neighborhood and can’t believe how much of a problem it is. They are relentless! Any Suggestions?

Cats, scarecrows, and other items for your birds to eat? Those would be my suggestions. For other items, for example, I planted 2 elderberry trees. I’ve read that birds love elderberries, but I want some of those berries too! So I planted a cheap currant bush nearby (birds LOVE those!) and some sunflowers (another bird favorite). The hope is that the birds are too full to gorge on all of the elderberries. I also have an outdoor farm cat. 🙂 Hope that helps!

I am notorious for killing the strongest plants BUT a friend gave me four wild grape plants. (There might be another name, but I’m clueless) They’re the meaty kind with big seeds and thick skin. They’re sweet and delicious.
Sadly only one plant survived through the summer. It’s leaves are small but bright green. The stem however, is brown… like it’s dead. I gave it some plant food and it didn’t die so I guess I’m doing something right.
What should I do next? Oh, it’s still in the pot sitting in the back yard. I water it once a week… when I remember(!)
Can you give me some advice about what to expect next?


Well, for starters, you probably want to plant it in the ground so it doesn’t get pot-bound or transplant shock. You need to train grapes on a proper trellis (shown in the post) as well so that your grape-producing vines get plenty of air around them to keep them healthy. Hope that helped!

[…] Grapes: Plant grapes in the spring as soon as the soil is dry enough to work. […]

Hi. I planted 3 Thompson seedless and 3 Red Flames about 4 years ago in a raised planter. So far all I’ve gotten is a lot of leaves but no grapes! The drainage is good, but any suggestions on what I’m doing wrong?


I’ll make this comment public. Maybe someone has some tips!

Hi we have several grape plants that are 3 to 7 years old my problem is that the plants get lots of grapes but the grapes dry up and we never get any to eat not sure what is going on we do prune them just before spring and we have beautiful plants and we got lots of leafs and nice cluster of grapes but then they dry up can you tell me why the grapes dry up. Thanks for your help

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