Learn how to grow grapes in pots. Growing grapes in containers is not very complicated though it requires slight care and maintenance. Check out below!
USDA Zones— 3 – 10
Soil pH— Slightly acidic to neutral
Choosing a Pot
For growing grapes in containers, choose a large and sturdy container that can support this vigorous vine. A 15-20 gallon pot that is at least 16-18 inches deep and 18-24 inches wide is sufficient. Start with a smaller sized pot and then repot the plant in a larger one.
The best option is to go to a garden center and ask for a variety that can grow well in pots and in your climate. There are many varieties of grapevine you can choose from. Choosing a variety that is resistant to diseases and can grow well in your zone is most essential. However, you can grow almost any variety in the container but growing a dwarf grape cultivar like ‘pixie’ can save you from the hassle of training a grape vine in a pot.
The best time to plant grapevine is spring or early summer, planting on this time helps the plant to grow all season without the exposure to frost. But if you live in a frost-free hot tropical climate the best time for planting grape vine is winters.
Requirements for Growing Grapes in Pots
Choose a location that is sunny, warm and dry. If your spot receives shade in an afternoon the plant will still do well, but at least 6 hours of sunlight is required. Avoid keeping the plant in wet, shady and less windy spot with less or no air circulation as it promotes fungal diseases and grapevine requires good air circulation around it.
Support and Training
Grapevine needs training and support to grow. When growing grapes in a pot, it is best to opt for a tall lightweight trellis, of wood or plastic. You can also DIY trellis for it. A grape vine grows long and requires support, it will be much better if you have an arbor or pergola like structure. Besides that, there are many other techniques to train the grape vine (See the picture above). Train the vine on a stake or something like a fan trellis. You can also support the vine on a stake with the help of “Umbrella Kniffen Training Method”. To learn more about this method, read this helpful article on pallensmith.com. Growing grapes in pots by the standard vine training method on a regular trellis is an easy and hassle free idea too.
Don’t use heavy garden soil when growing grapes in containers. Instead, use a light potting mix that is loose, rich in organic matter and most importantly drains well.
Water regularly and deeply to keep the soil slightly moist but avoid overwatering. Soggy, damp soil can be detrimental to the plant.
Side dress the plant periodically with aged manure or compost. In the first year, you can fertilize the plant with a general purpose fertilizer in spring and summer. From the next year, start to fertilize the plant with the fertilizer that is low in nitrogen but high in potassium and phosphorus from the spring when flower buds appear.
Growing Grapes in Tropics
Grapes are actually temperate fruits but the best thing about them is they can be grown in both temperate and tropical regions. Temperate climate zones without very harsh summers or humidity are optimum for growing grapevines. However, the two tropical countries India and Brazil are one of the largest producers of grapes in the world. Other tropical countries like Yemen, Thailand, Peru and Tanzania also produces grapes but to a smaller extent. This means if you live in a tropical climate you can still grow grapevine. You’ll only need to find a right variety that grows successfully in your area.
Still in tropics, areas with very high humidity or with heavy rainfall are less suitable for growing grapevine and if you’re living in an unfavorable climate like this, your plant will going to suffer from fungal diseases regularly and you’ll have to look after it more. Besides this, there is a possibility that fruits you’ll obtain will be of lesser quality and mild taste.
Grape Vine Care in Pots
Grape vine care in the pot is not so difficult if you follow the tips given below.
When growing grapes in containers you must know most grape varieties are self-fertile and produce fruits on their own. However, shaking the plant gently at the time of flowering results in better yield.
Grapevine requires mulching when grown on the ground. You can also mulch in the pot with pine bark, compost or with pebbles (this way it will look great too) to prevent excessive water evaporation from the soil and to protect roots from temperature fluctuations.
In climates with harsh winters, you have to protect the plant. For this, you’ll need to remove the dormant grapevine from its support and start to keep it indoors in warm space. Also, reduce watering and avoid the application of any fertilizer during this period.
During the first few months after planting until the end of the growing season, do not prune the plant and allow it to grow freely to let the plant establish well in a pot and allow it to develop a strong root system.
Grapevine woods that are more than two years old do not produce fruits so you’ll have to remove all the old branches.
Prune the growth in late winter to early spring during the dormancy so that only two buds will remain. Buds are little protrusions on the trunk. This heavy pruning may seem too much to do but in the spring and summer, each of these buds will grow into a new branch. Dedicate the first year for training the vine to follow your trellis or stack with pruning and tying. Due to the limited space of the container, try to keep only 1 or 2 branches growing from the main trunk. Also, prune away any runners that creep away from the trellis.
The most important pruning will be one that you will perform in late winter when the plant shed its leaves, it is the one on which the fruiting depends. You will need to do the summer pruning too. Though it should have to be light and unobtrusive, just pinching and pruning.
Growing grapevine as a tree is also possible. Check out this step by step article on GardenGuides.
Diseases and Pests
In diseases, fungal diseases like black spot and powdery mildew, especially in dry and warm weather are possible. In pests, keep an eye on common garden insects like aphids. Japanese beetles, moths, caterpillars can also be a problem.
Harvesting should be done when your grape plant is at least 2-3 years old. Generally, grapes ripen anytime between late August to late October. Exactly when it depends on the variety and the type of climate you’re growing them in.
To find out whether your grapes are ready for harvesting or not is to taste them. If they taste sweet and nice, pick them. If they don’t, then leave them for a few more days. Once the grapes start to change their color they usually take anywhere between 1 to 3 weeks to become properly ripe (how long, depends on the variety and how good the climate is. For example, green grapes normally turn slightly translucent and their skins become yellow once they are ripe. Ripe grapes also feel soft to the touch. Eventually, taste is all that matters. If you like the taste, then pick them.