Growing Grapes in Containers IIContainer Gardening Last Updated On 02/04/2020
Once your grapevine starts to grow, you need to give it some help so it can grow neatly and under control. To achieve this you will need to provide it with a structure so it can climb on it.
There are many different support systems you may try. A wood frame or a sturdy trellis will do. Many people choose to form a small arch, a circle, a stair shape, etc. The choice is yours. The only limit is your imagination!
Depending on the size of the vine, the trunk and the leaves and the fruit can get very heavy. Keep this in mind when building a support system. Your chosen structure has to be strong enough to hold the weight of the vine. It's also best to choose something that will last many years, because you will have the vine growing there for a long time.
Train Your Vine
The next spring after you did the heavy pruning, you will see one main branch developing from each of the buds left on the vine. These branches will grow and grow, so the goal is to make them grow on the shape you want. This is called "training your vine".
You can tie your vine progressively to the trellis as it grows. This will make it maintain its form. Make sure to check on your vine regularly, because it can grow very fast, especially during spring.
Since you are growing your vine in a container, it's best to only keep one or two branches growing. You may include a few more, but only if the container is big enough. It's therefore important to keep only the strongest branches. Prune away any runners that sprout from the core canes. Pruning will give all the strength to the main vines.
Once your grapevine reaches the size you want, you can cut the tip of the vine to prevent it from growing any further.
As a reference for the size of your grapevine, keep in mind that the best fruit is usually given from the sixth to the twelfth fruiting bud. Use this as a guideline.
After the end of the season, the vine will enter the dormant state once again. By this time, you will have a skeleton that will be the main structure of your vine.
Keep it Going
After this, you can hopefully set your grapevine in cycle and keep it going. In order to keep your plant healthy and to get the most fruit, you need to prune it periodically, so make sure not to forget about that.
Another thing to keep in mind is that since the fruit develops in the second year canes, you need to prepare one new fruiting branch every year. In order to do this successfully, it's best to make a cycle of renewal. This method means developing a couple of new branches every year to grow and substitute the old canes from the previous season.
In order to achieve this, you have to prune away all the new runners and branches that will grow from the top canes. Make sure to leave only a few strong and healthy branches growing from the base. Train them to grow into your structure as you did the year before.
Another thing to do every year at the end of the season, is to prune away any old wood. All of the branches that gave fruit that year have to be pruned. The new branches will substitute the last season growth as the new fruiting canes in the following season.
Once you have developed this cycle, you can keep it going for many years. It will enable you to always have the best fruit from your grapevine. You will also have a strong, healthy plant growing in a container.
- Observe your plant during the fruiting season and prune away any weak flower buds. This way, you will help the plant focus all of its energy on the best flowers, which will in turn give the best fruit.
- Also, make sure to take away any weak grapes growing in every bunch. There are always many grapes in every flower bud, so if you take the smaller, the rest will benefit and develop more.
- Grapes don't require much care to grow, but it's advisable to feed them with a bit of fertilizer around the spring. It will help the vine develop new canes. Another good time to feed them is during the height of the fruiting season. That will help them grow more tasty grapes.
- Birds can be a problem, since they love delicious grapes as much as we do. You might need to build some sort of protection against birds. A small, reflective material hanging on the branches helps keeping the birds away. If that doesn't help, try using a net to protect your vines.
- While you are training the vines in the container, you may try to make various shapes and patterns. The new vines are very flexible and easy to manage, so you can train them in many different ways.
Photo credit: Dan Randow