Have you ever wanted to grow grapes but don’t have the space for a vineyard? Growing grapes in containers is a great alternative. It’s an easy way to produce fruit in a small space. Before you begin, it’s important to know a few things about caring for grapes grown in pots.
Let’s dive in and go over what you need to know before getting started!
Why Grow Grapes in Containers?
There are several positives to growing grapes in containers. First, you can save space. Typical home vineyards can take up hundreds of feet in a yard. You may not have that kind of disposable yard space. Containers can be conveniently placed on the patio or even on the balcony of your apartment.
Another plus is that grape vines in containers are portable. If your vine isn’t getting enough sun, you can relocate it to another sunny spot in your yard. If pests are affecting your garden, you can move your grape vine away from the other crops or even isolate it in a greenhouse.
What You’ll Need
I’ll go over these in more detail in this post, but here are the main things you’ll need to get started growing grapes in containers:
- Grape Vine
- Trellis or Other Support Structure
- Good Soil
How to Grow Grapes in Containers
Choosing the Right Container
When growing grapes in containers, it’s important to have the proper pot to grow them in. Look for a large container that is at least 18 to 20-inches wide and just as deep. Avoid using a dark plastic pot. These will heat up in the sun and dry out the roots of the grape vine quickly. Plastic pots also don’t make great long-term pots.
Ceramic pots, wood barrels, or concrete planters work great, so long as they have proper drainage. If you plan on putting your container on the patio or an even surface, consider purchasing a plant caddy with wheels. These make it easy to relocate your grape vine whenever you need to.
Selecting the Right Grape Variety
When selecting a grape variety for your container, look for a variety that will stay compact in size. The Purple Mars grape will stay around six to eight feet and is disease resistant. This Southern Home Muscadine Hybrid variety will stay under eight feet in size, and it self-pollinates, so you won’t have to have other grape vines near it.
You can also choose a variety of Pixie Grapes that are dwarf cultivars of grapes. The important thing is to find a grape vine that you don’t have to constantly re-pot because of vigorous growth.
Choosing a Growing Site
Place the container in a spot that will get plenty of sunlight. Grape vines need at least seven to eight hours of sun per day. Avoid placing the grape vine where air will not circulate well.
Planting the Grapes
Now, it’s time to plant your grape vine! When growing grapes in containers, you’ll need a trellis or other support structure in the pot for the grape vine to climb. You can also install the trellis in the ground behind the pot if there is not enough room in the container.
Fan-shaped trellises work great, and they don’t take up much room in a container because of their narrow bottom. You can also use a stake to support your grape vine in the first year, but you will need to upgrade to a trellis once the grape vine begins to spread.
Fill the pot with loamy soil, firming it around the trellis. Grape vines prefer well-draining soil, so opt for good organic potting soil mixed with compost. Avoid heavy soils that will hold water. Plant your grape vine in the pot, and firm the soil to make sure there are no air pockets around the roots.
Soil can dry out quickly when growing grapes in containers. Keep your grape vine consistently watered. Don’t allow the soil to dry out completely between watering, but don’t water it so much that the soil stays soggy. If the top inch or two of soil is dry, you can rewater the grape vine.
Don’t worry about pruning the grape vine in the first year of growth. Let branches grow off of the main stems. In the second and third year of growth, you can remove the old wood from the bottom to encourage growth at the top of the vine. Pruning old, spent wood will produce a healthier harvest when growing grapes in containers.
Make sure to wait until the grape vine is dormant to prune. Grape vines go dormant in the winter to early spring months. Light pruning in the summer after bloom time is also okay, but wait until winter to do the bulk of the pruning.
Common Pests and Diseases
Grape vines are susceptible to many pests, such as Japanese beetles and grape vine moths, that will feed on the foliage and fruit of the grape vine. It’s important to keep an eye on your grape vine throughout the growing season. Look for any damaged leaves or hollowed-out fruit. This is usually a sign that a common grape vine pest has moved in.
A good way to prevent pests is by keeping leaf litter and weeds away from grape vines. Growing grapes in containers is a great way to avoid this because you can move the container away from weeds.
Growing grapes in containers does not protect you from every disease. If you leave your grape vine in an area with poor air circulation, you could subject the plant to powdery mildew. Powdery mildew will show up as the name sounds – with a white film covering the foliage and fruit.
Another common disease of grape vines is black rot. Black rot occurs on grapes vines in humid weather. Brown spots will appear on leaves, and fruit will be infected with red spots. To get rid of black rot, all affected areas will need to be removed completely and disposed of.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I fertilize a grape vine in a container?
Yes, applying fertilizer to grapes vines in containers can be very beneficial. In the spring, you can apply a fertilizer that is high in potassium and phosphorus to the soil surrounding the grape vine roots. It’s also a good idea to mix in fresh compost every year.
2. Can I leave the container out during the winter?
Depending on your specific climate, the container should be fine outside in mild temperatures. If you have severe winters, consider bringing the container inside or in a greenhouse, if possible.
3. Will growing grapes in containers produce as many grapes?
As long as the grape vine has sufficient room in the container for roots to spread, the grape vine should produce fruit as well as a grape vine that has been planted in the ground.
Wrapping Up Growing Grapes in Containers
If you have a small patio or balcony, growing grapes in containers could be a great idea for you. They’re easy to manage, and it won’t hurt the plant to move it around. Following the few simple maintenance tips mentioned above, you’ll be harvesting grapes in no time!
To learn about the different varieties of grapes you can grow, visit our other grape growing posts!