Vitis vinifera


Grape Vine

Woody vine that is normally trained to climb. Large bunches of fruit are produced in summer or autumn, depending upon locality and cultivar.


Table grapes or preserves, wine, or juice.


The grape vine is one of the most popular fruits you can grow. Grapes tolerate cold when dormant (over winter) but not when in leaf. Late frosts can be a problem. Their ideal climate is a warm, dry summer and a mild to cool winter. There are varieties which have been bred which will tolerate very cold winters.

Grapes are usually bought bare rooted, like roses or fruit trees, and planted in winter. They prefer a fairly heavy, not too acid soil, and a sunny position. Cut the vine back hard immediately after you plant it, and let it grow as it will in its first year. The first winter select the strongest shoot for training to the trellis or pergola, and remove all the others; train the leading shoot until it has reached the height at which it is to branch, and then train two or three branches along the trellis. 

The process of establishing the framework of the vine usually takes two or three years; after that it is cut back to the main branches every winter to encourage the strong growth that will bear the fruit. It is usually the vines third summer in the garden before it begins to crop. 

The pruning technique depends on whether the vine is an ornamental or fruiting variety, and on the type of support structure. 


Cuttings or grafting


Following are some of the most popular varieties of grape for the home gardener:

‘Calmeria’: Green, late maturing, prefers a warm to hot climate. Tolerates rain better than other varieties. 

‘Cardinal’: Red, early maturing, prefers a dry and hot climate. Rampant grower.

‘Concord’: Black, mid-late maturing, prefers cooler areas. Good when eaten fresh.

‘Himrod’: Green, early-mid maturing, prefers cooler areas. Almost seedless fruit. 

‘Muscat’: Black, matures mid-season, adaptable grower. Excellent for home gardens.

‘Sultana’: White, mid-early maturing, prefers a warm and dry climate. Seedless and excellent fresh or dried. 

‘Waltham Cross’: Green, mid-late maturing, prefers a mild to warm climate. Vigorous grower, large fruit. 


Plant Health

The fruit matures in the late summer and autumn, and may be attacked by botrytis if the weather is wet. Birds are fond of grapes, and measures may have to be taken to discourage them. 

Caterpillars can attack the foliage, as can mildew, which needs a regular spraying for control. In dry summer areas, mildew is not a major problem, and most varieties will do well. In humid coastal gardens, a mildew resistant variety like ‘Isabella’ (better for jam than eating fresh) is the best choice. 

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