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How to Plant a Grapevine

Adding to your garden is always exciting, and the multiple benefits of planting grapevines make this a very desirable fruit plant to add to your collection. Grapes can be used to make wine, jams, and juices; the leaves can be used for various stuff grape leaves recipes; and prunings from grapevines can be used for all sorts of DIY crafts. Grapevines also make for a very beautiful living decoration in your outdoor space throughout the year.

Bunches of red grapes on a grapevine. Learning how to plant a grapevine is the first step toward enjoying homegrown grapes.

Although grapes need a lot of time to harvest, planting grapevines takes no time at all, especially when following this guide on how to plant a grapevine like a pro!

What to Consider Before Planting

When Should I Plant My Grape Vine?

When planting grapevines, it’s very important to be mindful of the climate in which you are planting. Do you live in a colder, more harsh environment? Or do your days tend to be a bit warmer, with the mild days of spring approaching sooner rather than later?

Containers of rooted grapevine cuttings.

If your home is on the chillier side of climates you will want to plant in spring– after the last expected hard freeze. By doing this, you ensure that your grapevine has enough time to get its start before the harsh days of a cold winter. Grape vines don’t typically fare well in cold weather, and the beginning stages of growth are the most crucial.

If you live in a warmer climate it is possible that you’re able to plant in late winter. Temperatures over fifty degrees Fahrenheit are optimal for baby grape plants to have a healthy beginning on their journey to maturity.

What If I Want to Plant Multiple Grape Vines?

When thinking about how to plant a grapevine, don’t forget to consider your main reasoning for wanting to add this enchanting plant to your garden. On average, grapevines take between two to three years after initial planting to produce a wealth of harvestable fruit. During this time, most mature grapevines produce about fifteen to twenty pounds of fruit.

Rows of newly planted grapevines.

If you’re very serious about winemaking, you may want to consider planting more than one vine. On the other hand, casual wine making or more decorative motives for planting likely mean that you will be able to benefit from just one grapevine.

If you do decide that you’d like more than one vine, make sure to space them at least six feet apart from each other. Between six to ten feet of space between grape vines ensures that they have enough room to grow without interference.

Getting Started

Finding the Perfect Planting Site

Now that the time to plant is quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about the best place for your new outdoor addition. One of the first things you should consider when planting grapevines is the amount of sunlight your property receives. Ideally, your grapes should be given a space that receives full sun.

Green grapes growing in the sun.

At the very least, try to find a place that receives between seven to eight hours of sunlight each day. Grapes love warm soil, and the sun keeps leaves dry– a key component in decreasing the risk of fungal diseases in your plants.

Another thing to think about is the soil conditions you have available. Grape vines prefer sandy soil but can easily thrive with the right addition of nutrient-rich soil you can purchase at your local reputable nursery or gardening store.

Digging the Hole

You’ve got your spot picked out, and it’s already easy to imagine the beautiful grapevine that will now live in the carefully chosen place in your yard. Make sure to clear any weeds that clutter the area, we want to make sure that the vine roots have plenty of space to establish themselves.

You will most likely be working with a bare-root plant, meaning that your plant will be dormant at the time of purchase. It’s very important to keep the roots wet while they wait to be placed in the ground, therefore bare-root plants should be planted as soon as possible. If the roots dry out, there is a high chance the plant will struggle to grow.

For bare-root plants, you may soak your roots in water for about three hours before planting, or maintain dampness by opting to wrap them with a wet burlap sack or bag wrapped around the roots. Wet roots are vital when it comes to learning how to plant a grapevine.

A person using a shovel to dig a hole in a garden.

A hole one foot in diameter and between one to one and a half feet deep should be sufficient for promoting strong root growth. The vertical roots of a grapevine can reach an impressive fifteen feet below ground.

If your grapevine is purchased from a local nursery, your potted plant will be a bit older than a bare-root plant, and the roots will have already had some time to establish themselves in the soil. For this method, you don’t have to worry about keeping roots damp– they have already been given a head start in the planting process.

Prepping the Soil

Whether bare-root or potted, planting grapevines involves the same method for soil preparation. Once your hole is dug, create a bed of soil about 4 inches deep. Use your hand to break up the soil, making it loose and airy to promote root growth. Gentle swirling will help release air pockets, which can cause roots to dry out and ultimately halt growth.

Remember to trim any broken roots that may have formed on your plant. Skipping this step may affect the productivity of root growth. With freshly pruned roots, set your plant on top of your soil bed and add about 6 more inches of soil, gently tamping in order to make sure the roots establish. Don’t forget to swirl and remove air pockets!

Finally, add more soil around your roots until they are fully below the soil line. It is a good idea to add soil until it is slightly above ground level, in order to compensate for natural tamping that will occur during the first watering right after planting. Don’t hesitate to add a little more soil if it seems like the soil surface is a bit low.

A person tending to a newly planted grapevine.

If you are transferring the plant from a pot, be careful to not accidentally shake loose any of the soil that’s encasing the roots. Some soil fall is inevitable, but take care to not expose any roots in the transfer process in order to avoid damage.

Promoting Initial Growth

Grape vines absolutely love water, and a very generous watering directly after planting will make for a very happy plant. Saturate the soil in order to kickstart root establishment. The pouring of the water will pull the soil inwards, making for a beautiful even ground due to the extra soil you’ve already compensated for.

The first year after planting grapevines will be focused on training your plant to grow upwards with the help of a trellis. With so many different types of trellises to choose from, check out our page on the Best Grapevine Trellises to figure out which option is the best for you.

Once you have your trellis, make sure it is sturdily placed straight up, next to your newly planted grapevine. If you have transplanted from a pot and already have some leaves growing, use twine to tie the bottom of your grapevine stem to the stake to make the upwards training begin as soon as possible.

Grapevine growing on vertical wooden trellis.

Things to Look Out For

Knowing how to plant a grapevine properly also involves looking out for signs that something isn’t right during the planting process. Unfortunately, grape vines aren’t disease resistant. Being able to recognize common diseases on your plant is key to making sure you can fix the problem before it even gets time to truly start.

Powdery mildew is one of the most common grapevine diseases– easily identifiable by the white, powdery spots that appear on various parts of the plant. Baby plants are easy targets for fungal disease, so it’s important to inspect your grapevine for any signs of damage even before it goes into the ground.

Powdery mildew on grapevine leaves.
Powdery mildew on grape leaves.f

Removing and disposing of the infected parts of your plant will help prevent further spread, which can easily be done by particles drifting in the wind. If you find anything that looks suspicious on your grapevine, make sure to take the necessary steps to protect the rest of your crop.

Quick Planting Tips

  1. Very sunny spots are the best place for planting grapevines.
  2. Removing air pockets when planting will allow for well-drained soil, which promotes root growth.
  3. Don’t forget to include a trellis next to your grapevine. This support will guide your plant vines upwards, allowing for abundant fruit and plenty of space.
  4. When tying a stem to a trellis, make sure it is straight. Vertical stems are essential for training your plant vines upwards.

Ready to Plant Grapes?

Before you know it soil, sun, and strong roots will turn to wine, delightful decor, and beautiful bunches of grapes. The journey to ripening season is definitely not a short one, but the reward is so worth the wait. A strong start is the best way to provide for your plant, but don’t forget to continue the TLC once your grape vines start to show visible growth. The reward for your diligence will be the freshly picked grapes you enjoy in various ways in your kitchen!

Person holding a bunch of blue grapes.

Where to Buy Your Grapevine

A great online resource for grapevine shopping is Nature Hills Nursery where you’ll find two dozen varieties of grapes to choose from. Grapes are popular and tend to sell out fast, so check the site well in advance of grape planting season!

Now that you know how to plant a grapevine, the next step is to pick your grape variety (or varieties) and then read up on the best practices for growing healthy grapes.

Excited for more grape content? Next, check out my grape vine page for more growing tips, care guides, recipes, and more!