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How to grow Grape Vines: Care Tips

A Grapevine makes a very attractive climbing plant, with bunches of succulent fruit for eating or winemaking. They can be grown in a greenhouse, conservatory or even outdoors - here we show you how.

Most common Grape vine questions

When can I plant Grape vines?

The best time to plant Grapes is between October and March.

What kind of soil do Grape vines need?

Grape vines do well in most soils as long as they are free draining.

If you have heavy soil, dig in plenty of compost or well rotted manure before planting, and add a little sand or gravel to improve drainage.

How much sun do Grape vines need?

Grape vines need full sun to produce fruit.

Position them where they will receive at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day.

How do you plant Grape vines? 

Choose a sunny, sheltered site against a wall, fence or other support.

Dig a generous hole and add plenty of well rotted compost to the soil. You should be able to see a join on the base of the vine where it has been grafted - this join needs to stay slightly above the soil. Grapes need good drainage, so add gravel or broken crockery beneath the roots.

How far apart should I plant Grape vines?

Grape vines should be spaced 1.5m apart.

When planting outdoors, leave a 15cm gap between the vine and the fence or wall.

Can I grow Grape vines in pots?

Grape vines do very well in pots.

In fact dessert grapes should only be grown indoors, as they need warmth to ripen properly. If growing in a greenhouse, make sure you ventilate it well, as Grapes also benefit from some cold spells.

How much water do Grape vines need?

Water indoor Grapes regularly.

Outdoor grapes should only need watering during dry spells.

Do Grape vines need feeding?

Grapes will benefit from an annual mulch of well rotted manure in spring.

You can also give them a feed of blood, fish and bone fertiliser around this time. When fruit starts to appear, feed weekly with a tomato fertiliser until they begin to ripen.

Do Grape vines need pruning?

Prune your Grape vines in early winter.

In spring and summer you can also pinch out and train the new shoots, as well as thinning out the fruit if needed.

Can I grow Grape vines outdoors?

Many varieties of Grape are hardy and will do well outdoors.

These tend to be the varieties grown for wine. Choose a warm, sheltered, sunny site. Dessert varieties will produce more fruit when grown in a warm place such as a greenhouse or conservatory.

When will my Grape vines produce fruit?

Your Grape vine will start to produce fruit after about two years.

If properly pruned (as above) your vines will increase their crop each year after that.

How to support Grape vines

Grape vines need support from a wall, fence, pergola or similar - or training with wires.

To support vines on a wall or across a ceiling, space wires 25-30cm apart and tie in the larger stems.

Caring for Grape vines

For the first two years, remove all flowers from your Grape vine. This will allow the plant to put its energy into establishing itself and growing strong.

For the next two years, allow only a few bunches of grapes to grow, and after that the plant can be left to crop fully. This will ensure a strong, long-lived vine.

How to harvest Grapes

Snip off ripe bunches of grapes at the stem with scissors, while holding the fruit.

Following a warm summer, grapes should be ready between September and October.

Common Grape vine problems

Grey Mould

Grey mould is a common problem for soft fruits. It’s caused by the fungus Botrytis Cinerea, looks like a fuzzy grey or brown patch and makes the fruit’s flesh decay.

To prevent it, make sure any dead or dying parts of the plant are removed immediately, water in the morning rather than the evening and make sure plants are not overcrowded. If you are growing in a greenhouse, increase the ventilation to prevent too much humidity. Remove any affected grapes.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew appears in Summer as a white, powdery coating on leaves which causes them to die.

Healthy plants are less vulnerable to infection, so water regularly, keep plants well spaced and get rid of any weeds as soon as they appear. Prune out any affected parts of the plant and destroy.

Red Spider Mite

This can be a problem in greenhouses: Red Spider Mites cause the leaves to turn pale, become covered in webbing and drop.

Remove infected leaves and dispose of them. You can also spray the leaves with water to dislodge the mites, or try insecticidal soaps or oils.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs suck the sap out of plants and leave secretions on the leaves which cause black sooty mould.

Encourage their predators, Ladybirds, by planting Fennel, Dill or Marigolds nearby.

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