Growing Grape Vines in Containers

shazaam(NC 7B)February 18, 2012

I'd really like to grow a muscadine grape vine, but my in-ground space is limited. Therefore, I've been researching methods for growing them in containers. Here's a suggested training method for grapes in containers that's recommended in Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopeda of Organic Gardening:

Train a single trunk up a 4' stake, at the top of which you've attached in inverted wire frame hanging basket (or small spoked wheel, etc.). Prune the trunk at the top of the stake, and then train cordons to fan out and drape over the top of the basket. This creates a sort of weeping shape.

Has anyone tried anything similar to this, particularly with a muscadine variety? Or does anyone have any general advice for growing/training grape vines in containers?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Here are mine in a greenhouse one year after planting in 10 gal pots. The two wire trellis is already full. Right now there are 11 pots on 32 linear ft of trellis but that will be reduced to 4-8 after I see how vigorous they are and which varieties I like best. The plants grew at least 20ft the first year.

Haven't decided yet if the foliage will stay on top of the wires or hang down each side. In the past two in-ground vines were on this trellis. They hung down each side but were overly vigorous hence the pots to give me better control of water and vigor.

I'll get sweeter and more flavorful fruit by shorting water some.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 2:56PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

Thanks for sharing, fruitnut. I'm curious -- do you use a pine bark based potting mix (like tapla's 5-1-1) for your grapes and other potted fruits?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 3:30PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Yes, it's similar to 5-1-1. Better too coarse than too water retentive. Mine were too vigorous last year. I'm hoping they will settle down this year. Guess I just need to water less after they set fruit. I want the canes to stop growing after about 6ft of growth, 8ft max. I had a Princess in a pot about 7 years and the vigor was just right. Nice big bunches and good fruit.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 4:11PM
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I have an "Ison's" in a 25 gallon container (it is slated eventually to go somewhere in the ground but has been a number of years in the pot). I eat grapes every year. I support it with a pole and train it high in an "umbrella" fashion.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 5:03PM
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Fruitnut- do you plan to root prune? If not, how many years do you plan to keep the grapes or do you think they could be kept in the container?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 4:22PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


No root pruning and I won't repot until the vigor falls too low. I'm hoping for at least 4-5 crops of fruit. I'll know soon if I'll have much of a crop this year.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 4:35PM
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Hi Fruitnut,

What fertilizer regime do you use for the grapes?

Off topic.

Do you find your reflective floor helps much with growing?

Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 3:01PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I won't fertilize the grapes until the vigor drops substantially. If and when they need some it will probably be the same things I use on my blueberry, Osmocote for acid loving plants or ammonium sulfate, 21-0-0.

I think the reflective flooring is a nice addition in the greenhouse. Light is a little lower than I'd like because of double poly and 30% shade cloth. This is the first full year for the shade cloth so I'm sticking with it at least through this crop. It is a comfort when hail rolls in which it will as soon as we get some rain.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 4:34PM
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"Has anyone tried anything similar to this, particularly with a muscadine variety?"

I have and 4 feet is too low. Muscadines are too vigorous. My Ison's is at about 6 feet and were I to do it again I'd go 8-10 feet (which would be getting similar to the way muscadines were grown in the ground in NC 80-90 years ago, next to a tall post).

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 9:20AM
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