The Q&A Archives: how to care for grape vines

Question: We have a red grape vine that my husband started from seed. It is about four or five years old and looks like a good vine but hasn't produced fruit. Can you tell me how to care for it. Thanks, Irma

Answer: If you started your grapevine from a seed, there's no telling what variety it is or even if it is the right variety for your growing region. Some grape types grow best where winters are cold, some grow best where summers are long. Since we don't know the parentage of your mystery grape we'll just have to wait and see how it performs in your yard.

Grapes produce fruit on new shoots that develop from old wood. You can cut back most of last year's wood, leaving at least two bud scars on each cane. This is where new fruiting wood will develop. There are many books on the subject. If you're new to growing and pruning grapes, you may want some in-depth instructions. Try the book 'Pruning' by Christopher Brickell (ISBN#0-671-65841-7) for step by step pruning. Grapes are quite easy to care for. Be sure they get plenty of sunlight and are watered regularly, especially during the summer months when fruits are developing and ripening. Don't fertilize or you'll get lots of rank growth at the expense of fruit. Prune them back when they get out of hand, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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