Ever wondered how to grow grape vines in the UK?
Well, you’d be surprised at how well they do grow. It might not surprise you to know that they tend to do better in the south, but for northern areas, some varieties that flower later in the year should still produce a decent amount of fruit.
Grape vines make a nice addition to any garden and can be trained to grow up walls with supporting wires, or garden trellis, pergolas or archways. There are two types of grapes, dessert grapes and wine grapes.
Dessert grapes are best planted in a sheltered spot, or even indoors in a greenhouse or conservatory, where the extra warmth will make sweeter fruit. Wine grape vines are grown outside.
Grape vines need a soil that is well draining and a sunny, south or south-westerly facing position. It is recommended that grape vines are planted in the winter, so they are settled into their spot before the growing season. Apply a good layer of mulch, such as bark chippings, to help protect the plant from frost and to help the soil retain moisture.
Make sure that all the supports are in place before the vine grows.
Caring for Grape Vines
In February, wine grape vines will benefit from some organic fertiliser applied to the soil.
Dessert grape vines can be given a potassium rich fertiliser, such as a tomato feed, every couple of weeks during the growing season. If growing dessert vines in a green house, make sure it is adequately ventilated in hot weather.
Pruning Grape Vines
A good method of pruning grape vines is spur pruning. The main stem of a grapevine is called the ‘leader’. Side shoots grow off the leading stem and it is on the side shoots that bunches of grapes grow.
Pruning grape vines is always best in the dormant winter time. Prune back the leader to approximately one third of its size, and the side shoots are pruned to two buds away from the leader.
During the growing season, the side shoots can be trained to grow along supporting wires. Side shoots will also produce more shoots, and these can be either left to grow or can be pruned off, depending on the size and shape you want your vine to be.
If you want a grape vine to grow over a large area, such as a pergola or to create an outdoor ‘undercover’ area, then do not prune the vine until the structure is covered. You can then trim off all stems to one bud.
There are different methods for pruning grape vines, but spur pruning is an easy method for beginners who want to try home grown grapes.
Most grape varieties are ready to harvest between August and October. You know they are ready when they are sweet!
Cut the bunch off at the stalk and enjoy fresh as a tasty snack, or they can also be made into wine.
Learn how to grow more. A-Z Growing Guide