Expert tips on growing your own grapevines

Expert tips on growing your own grapevines

Grapevines are easy to grow, offer summer shade and can be trained to fit a variety of sturdy trellises. These are some ways you can help your grapevines flourish.

Get the best plants for your region

  • If you want to have pretty plants and juicy grapes, the best place to start is your local nursery.
  • Like other fruits, grape cultivars vary in their need for winter chilling.
  • Different kinds of grapes will have different resistances to pests and diseases in your region.
  • Local sources can steer you towards the best choices for your area.

Choose good grapes

  • Grape species native to North America are numerous and make fine garden plants.
  • Grapes look especially good in informal areas, where you can let them ramble over fences.
  • Perhaps the most ornamental grape is the fast-growing crimson vine. Suited to Zone 5, it makes an excellent screen and boasts brilliant red foliage in fall.
  • Muscadine grape is a close second, with nearly round 12 centimetre (five inch) leaves that turn yellow in fall.
  • The riverbank grape is a vigorous vine suited to Zone 4. It features three-lobed leaves, sweetly scented flowers and almost black fruits with a strange taste.

Pick the site of your personal vineyard

  • Grapevines are easy to grow in any sunny, well-drained site.
  • Buy plants in early spring, when they’re just emerging from dormancy.
  • Plant them in soil enriched with organic matter, such as leaf mould, compost or well-aged manure.
  • Unless you want abundant foliage, don’t fertilize these plants.

Learn to train your grapevines

  • Train the vines where you want them to grow the first year and monitor them for problems.
  • Little pruning is needed the first year. Once vines are established, though, they should be cut back in late winter, just before the buds swell in spring.
  • If you’re growing grapes as ornamental vines, prune them as needed to control their size and eliminate weak growth.
  • Because the main trunk is attractive year-round, allow it to grow as tall as you like. Cut back the lateral branches to only a few buds.
  • Grapes can also be trimmed in summer. This encourages them to produce a pretty flush of new, light-green leaves.
  • To propagate, pin a trailing vine to the ground and cover it with soil.

Protect them from disease and pests

  • Commercially grown grapevines are prone to numerous diseases that cause leaves to discolour and wither. These are seldom a problem in home landscapes.
  • If your vines display disfiguring leaf spots, apply a sulphur-based fungicide, registered for use on grapes, according to package directions.
  • Japanese beetles may chew holes in the leaves, seriously weakening young plants.
  • Deer may also browse grapes. Hang bars of a strong-smelling deodorant bath soap among vines to deter them. Or, apply commercial repellents as directed on the label.

There’s no reason grapevines should be confined to vineyards. With the right care and attention, you can grow them in your own garden.

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