It's Easy! Learn How To Grow Grapes In Your Home Garden

Grapes are one of the top edibles that thrive in an Arizona home garden, but do you know how to grow them? It’s easier than you might think, and even the harsh pruning they require come winter isn’t as intimidating as it seems.

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Which Varieties of Grapes Grow Best In A Home Garden?

One of the most abundant grape varieties for Southern Arizona, according to the Arizona Daily Star, is the Thompson seedless. It’s one of the most popular varieties to grow for eating fresh, with a sweet but mild flavor. The medium-sized berries are greenish white to golden, and are frequently the variety used for making raisins. Other recommended table grape varieties include cardinal (dark red berries), perlette (pale green berries) and flame seedless (red berries).

What Are The Ideal Conditions For Growing Grapes?

Grapes should be planted in full-sun with well-drained soil and minimal clay, free of grass and weeds, which will stunt vine growth. A number of varieties are available for purchase seasonally at your local SummerWinds location. Container-grown grapes can be planted spring through fall, but bare-root grapes must go into the ground during the winter months.

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Regardless of type, plant grapes directly into unamended soil. Multiple vines should be planted six to seven feet apart. Simply dig a hole large enough to accommodate the root ball, removing any large rocks, and fill in the space around the roots with dirt and compost.

Grapes can have deep roots, growing three to four feet into the soil. During the hottest part of the year water deeply but infrequently, every seven to ten days, or whenever the top three to four inches of soil are dry to the touch. Grapes respond very well to drip irrigation systems. Since grapes shade their leaves in the winter, they need no watering during this period unless rains are scarce. Apply 10 ounces of a 10-10-10 fertilizer per vine each year, and double it every three years for six years. Apply every year after that.

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Growing Grapes On A Trellis Or Arbor

Grapes can be trained to grow on a trellis, arbor or single post. If you plan on planting several vines, it’s best to build a trellis using wood posts and two rows of heavy gauge wire, 36 and 60 inches off the ground. The lower wire is used to train the fruiting cane, called the cordon, while the upper wire will support the fruit-producing shoots.

Grapes will be ripe and ready to eat in July and August, but don’t rely on appearance alone. Especially for varieties that produce red berries, the heat can prevent coloration and keep the fruit green. Give each bunch a taste if you’re unsure to avoid harvesting the fruit too early.

Prune Heavily To Promote Healthy Growing Grapes

Grapes should be pruned while the plant is dormant during the winter months. The most common mistakes that many home gardeners make is not being aggressive enough when cutting back the vines; it can be the difference between a weak or plentiful harvest.

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Cane pruning is the most appropriate method for the home garden. Cut off as much of the old wood as possible to encourage new growth, which is where the fruit is produced. If your vines are trained on the two-wire setup described above, remove all the shoots growing between the upper and lower wires, and cut back the shoots trained along the wire to only one or two buds each. For more in-depth diagrams we recommend this PDF from the University of Arizona.

Ask The Experts At SummerWinds For Advice On Growing Grapes

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Our Trusted Garden Advisors can help you with everything from choosing the best grape variety for your yard, to purchasing a trellis and answering your questions about pruning. Stop by any of our three locations seven days a week.

About SummerWinds Nursery: SummerWinds Garden Centers is a leading high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, SummerWinds operates retail nurseries in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, and in Silicon Valley, California, making it one of the largest independent retail nursery companies in the west. SummerWinds appeals to both the serious and casual gardeners, with a broad selection of premium gardening products and a friendly and knowledgeable staff.