Posted by Brent Wilson on 8/15/2016 to Planting & Growing Tips
Before you plant grape vines, make sure to get the right type and purchase high-quality plants. Where we garden in Georgia, the fox grape varieties are best suited for our hot and humid climate. European grapes are more suited for cooler climates. Consult with your local Extension agent as to the varieties that are best for your area.
I recommend purchasing container-grown grapevines. Most grape varieties are self-fertile, however, to be sure, check when you are purchasing vines as to whether or not you'll need more than one plant for pollination.
There are four different types of grapes:
- American (Vitis labrusca), which are the most cold hardy
- European (Vitis viniferia), which usually are more for wine than the table and do well in warm, dry, Mediterranean-type zones
- Muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia), which are thick-skinned American natives that thrive in the South.
- Hybrids, which are crosses between American and European grapes
Before planting, make sure to select a good site.
Full sun is best, but grape vines can also be grown in part shade. If it's part shade, just make sure it's morning sun with shade in the afternoon.
Your soil needs to be deep, well-drained, and loose and there needs to be good air circulation. Grapes like a slightly acid to neutral soil ranging between 6 and 7 on the pH scale. If you think your soil pH is very acid or alkaline consider testing it with a soil pH testing probe.
Also, because grapes prefer a well-drained soil, you'll want check soil drainage before planting. If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant your grape vines, it's well worth taking the time to test the drainage before planting.
To test soil drainage, dig a hole 12" wide by 12" deep in the planting area. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then, after it drains, fill it with water again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in loose, sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions and possibly a need to add organic matter to help retain moisture. A slower rate indicates poor draining soil and is a caution you need to improve drainage, plant in a raised mound or bed, or look for plants that are more tolerant of wet or boggy conditions.
Space vines 6 to 10 feet apart (16 feet for muscadines).
How To Plant a Grape Vine
NOTE: First, grape vines will need to be trained to some sort of support to grow upward. They can be grown on a fence or on an arbor or pergola, or you can construct a trellis or arbor before planting. Scroll down to see support and training tips.
For each vine, dig a planting hole 12 inches deep and 2 to 3 times as wide as the rootball. Place soil removed from the planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow, or on a tarp.. If your soil is heavy clay thoroughly mix composted organic matter (cow manure, mushroom compost, etc) at a 50/50 ratio with the native soil removed from the planting hole. If your soil is pure sand you'll need to mix in a good amount of top soil and maybe even a little peat moss to help retain moisture.
Next, gently remove your plant from the pot it was growing in. If the root ball is stuck in the pot either cut the container away or place the plant on it's side and pound lightly on the side of the container. This usually helps to loosen the root ball in the container. After having removed the plant from the container, gently loosen some roots around the surface of the rootball.
Set your plant in the hole and add some of your backfill mixture if necessary to make sure the top edge of the rootball is at or slightly above ground level, to allow for settling.
Next, backfill around the root ball with your soil mixture, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue back-filling to the top. Avoid putting any soil on top of the root ball as doing so can suffocate your plant.
Water your newly planted grapevine thoroughly and then apply a 1-inch layer of organic compost or a 2-inch layer of shredded or chipped wood mulch or pine straw. Continue watering regularly for several weeks to support settling-in and new growth...but be careful not to overwater. Grape vines do not like constantly soggy soil!
- How To Prune and Train a Grape Vine >
- How To Fertilize and Water Grape Vines >
- How To Plant and Grow a Grape Vine >
Plant Long & Prosper!
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