Posted by Brent Wilson on 8/24/2016 to Fruit Gardening
Before you plant a muscadine vine, make sure to purchase high-quality plants from a reputable nursery. I recommend purchasing container-grown vines in 1-gallon or larger size pots. However, you can have success with bareroot plants.
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know...
There are basically two different types of muscadines, based on the type of flower they have:
Self-Fertile - These are self-pollinating and do not require a pollinator.
Self-Sterile - These are female types which must be planted near a self-fertile type in order for pollination to occur and fruit to be produced.
NOTE: Make sure to check when you are purchasing vines as to whether or not you'll need more than one plant for pollination.
Muscadine vines can grow in a wide range of soils. Highly fertile soils are not essential. Well-drained soils produce the best growth and yields. Avoid soils that are persistently wet during the growing season.
How To Test Soil Drainage
If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant your muscadine 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.
Muscadine vines grow best in an acid to slightly acid soil ranging from 5.5 to 6.5 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils range between 6.0 to 7.0 on the pH scale.
Testing Soil pH
Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil and is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline. If you're unsure about the pH of your soil and whether or not it's suitable for growing muscadines it's a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.
Learn More: What is Soil pH and How To Adjust It >
The best and most muscadine berries will be produced when vines are growing in full to mostly sun. However, muscadine vines that receive a little shade will still produce good crops.
How To Plant A Muscadine Vine
Note: Muscadine 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. SEE: How To Train & Prune Muscadine Vines
Space muscadine vines 16 feet apart along your fence or trellis.
Planting Container Grown Muscadine Vines
Bare root planting instructions below
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 very heavy clay thoroughly mix potting soil or top soil at a 25% 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. Avoid using composted manures as a soil amendment when planting muscadines.
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, use a fork tool or your fingers to gently loosen some roots around the surface of the rootball.
Set your plant in the hole. Add some of your backfill mixture if necessary to to the bottom of the hole to make sure the top edge of the root ball is at or slightly above ground level.
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 edge of the rootball. Do not put any soil on top of the root ball as doing so can suffocate your plant.
Water your newly planted muscadine thoroughly and then apply a 2-inch layer of pine bark mulch or pine straw. Continue watering regularly for several weeks to keep soil moist but not wet. Muscadine vines do not like constantly soggy soil.
Planting Bare Root Vines
Soak the roots of bare root muscadine vines in water for two or three hours before planting.
Trim off broken roots and set the vine into a 12-inch deep by 12-inch wide hole, slightly deeper than it grew in the nursery; the point on the stem where the roots flare out should be about an inch below the soil line.
Cover the roots with 6 inches of soil and tamp down. Fill with the remaining soil, but don't tamp this down.
After planting, prune the vine back to just one vigorous cane. Optionally, you can prune the top of the one remaining cane (vine) back to a point in which two or three leaf buds are left on the vine. Make your cut about an inch above the top bud.
Plant Long & Prosper!™
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