Getting Grapesvines to Grow Fruit in the UK


Tips to Grow More Grapes

  • Grape vines produce fruit on “this year’s growth” coming from “last year’s side branches” (canes). Grapes produce the most fruit on shoots growing off of one-year-old canes. New growth coming from older branches does not produce fruit.
  • If you prune back your vines completely each year, then you get lots of new growth but few grapes
  • New grape vines can take 2 to 5 years to produce fruit
  • Insufficient drainage and too much water will cause very few grapes or no grapes at all
  • Stop watering grape vines in Autumn so that the vine will harden itself up for winter
  • Trim shoots to encourage energy to be channeled into fruit production.
  • Grapes like dry poor soil so if you over feed you will get tons of leaves and no grapes.
  • For older vines with thick stems apply Epsom Salts every other autumn but feed them March, May and July with balanced fertiliser. This provides them with food at bud-break, fruit set and mid-way of the fruit development.

Pruning to Get Grapes to Fruit

  • Prune the laterals to 2 or 3 buds, but do not remove the laterals that will shape your plant.
  • Prune the side branches, leaving two or three buds each.
  • Prune out any dead or unwanted growth and vines will produce fruit on one year old growth.
  • Pruning grapes in late November -January. Later pruning will encourage excessive bleeding from the cuts as the sap rises.
  • Prune all the way back to the main stems will cause new growth and many more flowers.
  • Training and pinching out of new shoots and thinning of fruits is carried out in spring and summer.

 Black Hamburg

Advice from RHS

‘The cordon or ‘rod and spur’ pruning system is usually used for indoor grapes in greenhouses or conservatories,

Young Vines
Let two of the side branches produce a bunch of grapes, then pinch back their tips to two leaves beyond the bunch of grapes
Pinch back side branches not bearing fruit to five leaves.
In December reduce the main stem by half, cutting to a bud on mature brown wood. Cut back side shoots to 2.5cm (1in) or to two strong buds.

Year three onwards

In January untie the main stem to one third of its length above ground.
Allow the top two thirds to bend down and almost touch the ground. This encourages side branches to break along the full length of the stem
In the growing season as soon as the buds on the spurs (knobbly bits where the main side branches were cut back to a single bud) begin to grow, tie the main stem back into position against its supports.
Pinch out the growing tips of flowering side branches two leaves beyond the flower cluster, allowing only one flower cluster to develop per side branch for dessert grapes. More clusters can be allowed for wine grapes
Tie in each flowering side branch to a wire
Pinch out non-flowering side branches to five leaves
Pinch out any side shoots growing from the side branches to one leaf
For wine grapes, allow all bunches of grapes to develop. For dessert grapes, allow only one bunch per side branch
Cut back the side branches to one or two plump buds from the main stem.’

More UK based grape growing advice from the RHS.

Quaffable Quotes

The wrath of grapes comes from a lack of fruit.
Have you heard any more on the grape vine?
Did the green grape tell the purple grape to Breathe!
Did the grape that got stepped on let out a little wine?
Vini Vidi Vino

Photo Credits
Grapes by dichohecho CC BY 2.0
Black Hamburg by keaw_yead_3 CC BY-NC 2.0
Grapes by freefotouk CC BY-NC 2.0


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