Grapes are fantastic fruits that can be eaten as they or used to produced juice or wine. They are commonly cultivated in an open field, but you can also start growing grapes in containers.
Some will say that container cultivation of grapes is only done for decorative purposes in the garden. This is because grape roots need a lot of area and depth; the plant itself requires a lot of nutrients to grow fruit. Still, others have successfully done container gardening with grapes and have even produced some fruit for personal consumption. The yield produced is not as high compared to those grown on the ground, but still, container gardening is possible.
Before You Start Growing Grapes in Containers
December or January will be the best time to collect cuttings from dormant vines. Choose a location that will give your vines the most hours of sunlight. Grapes require at least 8 hours a day for optimum growth.
Choose a variety that is most suited for growing grapes in pots. Concord grapes can be cultivated in containers. Sieger-rebe is also good and can even be cultivated successfully in a tub. Muscat Hamburg is also great for container gardening as it produces firm, sweet grapes. You can also try Buckland Sweetwater as their white flesh has a sweet taste and can keep long. You will also need a trellis to keep your grapevines organized and neat.
Choosing the Right Container to Grow Grapes
Choosing the right pot for your grapes can be tricky when growing grapes in containers. There are a lot of container types that you can choose from, but not all will be optimal for your vines.
You can use terracotta pots, but they tend to leech out the water from the plant, resulting in frequent watering to prevent dehydration. They can also be pretty heavy, not to mention fragile. This makes them a poor choice if you plan to give optimum care to your crops by moving them indoors and out when necessary.
Plastic containers, on the other hand, are lightweight, durable, and will not leech out water. They also insulate the plants better compared to terracotta.
I recommend terracotta pots for plants that need a warm environment. Your grapes require a warm location for the vines, but a cool environment for the roots. A light-colored plastic container of at least 7 gallons or 16 inches deep and 16 inches wide will be ideal for growing them in.
You need to make sure that the container has enough drainage holes at the bottom to prevent collecting too much water. Your grapes can die from over-watering, and this can be remedied by putting drainage holes in your container. Line the bottom of your container with an inch of small fragments of a broken terracotta pot, or small stones or pebbles to further aid in draining water. You can also use a fine fiberglass net to line the bottom to prevent insects from going through your container.
Preparing a Good Potting Mix for Container Grown Grapes
Grapes like well-drained soil and light. However, you cannot use the garden soil in your back yard no matter how loamy it is. Garden soil is usually made up, or clay or they can be too sandy to retain moisture. Garden soil can also contain a lot of virus, fungus, and bacteria that can cause disease to your crops.
Purchase a high-quality soil mix in your local nursery or garden store. The potting mix is made up of equal parts of sterile soil, perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss and compost for better water retention.
Unlike other crops, grapes do not like too much nitrogen in the growing medium. Just prepare the soil two weeks before planting with an addition of mature compost, and that will be enough. Grapes require an acidic soil with a pH 5.0-5.5. Adjust the pH of the soil by increasing it with the use of lime or decreasing it with the use of sulfur.
Growing Grapes in Containers From Seeds
Grapes are ideally started as cuttings, but you can also use seeds when growing grapes in containers. Choose first a small pot that is around 3 inches tall and 3 inches wide. Once you have prepared your pot and potting mix, place two seeds in one container at the center spaced 1 inch apart.
Cover them with ½ of soil, water it, and put the pot inside a plastic bag. Keep the container inside the fridge for 30-90 days, maintaining a temperature that is below 40 degrees. Just make sure the seeds do not freeze. Remove the pot from the refrigerator and keep from direct sunlight.
Keep the soil moist but not wet until the seeds germinate. Thin the seedlings by removing the weakest one once they have formed two true leaves. The seedling is now ready to be transferred to a bigger container once it reaches a height of 3 inches. Harden your seedlings by keeping your grapes in a shady area protected from wind and rain for 10-15 days before moving them in a permanent spot in your yard or porch
Grow Grapes in Containers From Cuttings
You can save yourself months of time by growing grapes from cuttings. Cuttings are best to start growing grapes in pots around October to March. You can have cuttings from pruned canes 12-18 inches long and have about 3-4 growth nodes on them.
Create a 45-degree cut at the top to protect the cutting and to promote growth. A straight cut at the bottom is needed for water absorption and promotion of root growth.
Plant the cane with the flat end deep into the soil, keeping one node exposed above the soil. Cover and water well until the water runs through the drainage holes.
Caring for Grapes Grown in Containers
Keep your grapes healthy by giving them water every 1-3 days, always making sure that the soil is moist but not wet. Never water your vines if you see pools of water or your fingers get wet when you touch the soil.
You need a stake to support your plant as you are growing grapes in containers. Tie your stem to the stake firmly, being careful not to injure the stems.
Prune by removing any dead or dying leaves and cutting wayward stems with the use of pruning shears. Remove any new growth from the lower part of the stem to encourage growth on the upper portion of the vine during the cold months.
Your grapes need to be mulched by either wood shavings (make sure the wood is not treated), moss, coconut husk, or pine needles. Give them compost tea every two weeks and side-dress them with compost every month.
Never use too much fertilizer if you wish to produce crops, but you can use 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 fertilizer if you are growing grapes for decoration purposes. You can also top-dress your plants with compost by removing a few inches of topsoil or compost and replacing it with the same layer of mature compost manure or standard compost.
It is quite easy to grow grapes in containers. If you wish to produce grapes, plant two plants in a different location to promote pollination.
Grapes not your fruit of choice? Check out my article on growing raspberries in containers!