Grape growing is experiencing a renewed popularity in home gardens! And why not? Not only are grapes wonderful for eating, juicing, and winemaking, but they are also a beautiful ornamental plant. Learn how to grow, prune, and harvest your grapes.
Grape vines not only produce sweet and versatile fruits, they add an element of drama to a garden or landscape. They are vigorous growers, and with the proper pruning, they will produce fruit with ease within a few years and last for 30 years or more!
For home gardeners, there are three main types of grapes to consider: American (Vitis labrusca), European (V. vinifera), and French-American hybrids. American grapes are the most cold-hardy, while European grapes—usually better for wine than the table—do well in warm, dry, Mediterranean-type zones. Hybrids tend to be both cold-hardy and disease-resistant, but are not as flavorful as European grapes. Another type that is grown in the U.S. is the Muscadine (V. rotundifolia), which is native to the southern United States. The Muscadine grape’s thick skin make it best suited for use in jams, wine, or other processed grape products.
Make sure you purchase grape vines from a reputable nursery. Vigorous, 1-year-old plants are best. Smaller, sometimes weaker, 1-year-old plants are often held over by the nursery to grow another year and are then sold as 2-year-old stock. Obtain certified virus-free stock when possible.