By Circkles Staff Writers.
Grapes are not just for the garden anymore as more people are using them for lawn accents and special features with the added benefit of being able to eat them or juice them. Grapes are not picky, and as any vintner will tell you, they produce better if they are not pampered or overwatered. Instead of planting vining flowers on a trellis and using water to keep something growing that you can only look at, try putting that same effort into something you can eat.
Most garden centers carry potted grapevines in the spring, this is the best way to get a vine going. Trying to start one from root cuttings is difficult at best. There are many varieties, but you probably want to pick a seedless variety, and after that it’s just a matter of personal taste as to whether you prefer red or green grapes.
Pick a spot that gets moderate to full sun, but not direct sun hitting the root base of the vine. The base of the vine does better with some shade from the hot sun, so plant larger bushy plants around the base to shade it if you must plant it in direct Southern exposure. In the wild, grapes love to climb and attach themselves to trees, with some vines reaching heights of 30-40 feet in a tree. Keep in mind a grapevine likes to spread it’s roots wide, so allow at least 10 feet all around for future root spreading that won’t encroach on other plants or trees. Dig your hole to just allow for the root base because it’s not necessary to amend the soil around the planting area with compost or mulch. Grapes that are well fed with compost or fertilizers will produce a beautiful vine but little fruit. So don’t fertilize or amend the soil for your grape if fruit is your main goal. You don’t want the soil hard and compact either, so if your soil is mostly clay, amend it with some sand, but very little organic matter.
Training and Pruning:
Give your grape 2-3 years to get well established with a good root base before starting to prune it and train it. In the beginning, you want to leave as much foliage and branches on the vine as possible so the roots will get plenty of food to get well established; then you can start pruning. For best grape production, trim the vine similar to a tree, with a main trunk and solid, alternating branches on the sides that are attached to a trellis. When you see where the grape clusters are going to be for that season, clip off the vine about 8-10 inches after the last cluster so all the vine’s resources go into the grapes and not new growth for that season.