7 Tips to grow hardy grapes

Your climate zone won’t have to limit you from planting a few grape vines among the rhubarb and raspberries. You may not get a harvest every year, however the satisfaction of producing your own grape vines is worth the challenge. A good plan can determine much of the success of home grape production. Knowing the climate zone and length of the average growing season for your area will also help in making good choices. You might purchase a grape variety that has a hardy root, and later find you never harvest any mature grapes because the local growing season isn’t long enough for that variety. Choose plant varieties that have proven themselves in your climate zone and be sure to buy from a reputable garden centre. Just because a local business sells you a plant, it does not automatically mean it will grow in your area. You will find information like variety and hardiness zone of the vines on the label. In areas where the growing season is very short, it is beneficial to buy grapes in a #1 or #2 pot.  A few hardy table grapes to look for are Valiant (zone 2), Emerald Ice and Blue Ice, which are both zone 3. Good gardening practices help increase the odds that you will produce healthy grape vines. For best production:

  1. Choose a location that gets plenty of sun.
  2. In the fall, prune back your vines to eight buds, remove them from their trellis, and let them lie on the ground. Snow cover acts as mulch and wind-chill protection. Straw and leaves attract rodents and are better avoided.
  3. Practice weed control. Weeds steal water and nutrients from the soil. Thistle or nettle in your vineyard can turn pruning and harvesting into literally painful events.
  4. Have a plan for protecting vines from late spring and early fall frosts. You can cover vines with plastic sheeting, tarps or even bedding from your linen closet.
  5. Provide water for your vines during drought periods. This is most important for newly planted vines in their first season when roots are not yet established. For a few vines, a soaker hose works well, or give them a five-gallon pail of water a couple times a week during dry periods. Do not water with an above-ground sprinkler system on sunny days, because wet leaves can ‘sunburn’ and the resulting damage may leave them vulnerable to disease.
  6. Become familiar with common grape pests and diseases and treat affected plants. Fewer diseases and pests affect the northern zones. Sprays and traps provide insect control.
  7. Leave vines that appear to be winter-killed. If you plant vines rated for your zone, a severe winter may kill all top growth, but it is quite likely that the root will survive and send up new shoots. Those shoots may not appear until well into the summer growing season, depending on the extent of winter injury.

Fruit production can be an enjoyable hobby and provide many learning experiences. Read, ask questions and experiment now and then. Wherever you live, you can grow your own grapes.


Happy Gardening!


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Guest post by Jodi - Bylands Account Representative


Outside of work I spend time with my family, playing golf in the beautiful Okanagan, practicing yoga and of course gardening.  I like to plant annual and perennial containers. I also plant a vegetable garden every year.