Reviving a dying grape vine and some backyard trellis ideas?

cziga(Zone 5 -Toronto)May 12, 2009

Hi there, I'm new to growing grapes and looking for a couple bits of advice.

The first, I picked up a plant from our local nursery for free because it looks dead. It pretty much looks like a stick stuck in the ground (not just dormant as other grape vines are budding out by now), but the roots look like there might, just might, be some life left. How do I go about reviving this plant? I was thinking of pruning the ends of the "dead stick", soaking it overnight in a mixture of rooting hormone and water, and then repotting it with good soil into a larger pot until I see if it is going to recover or not? What do you all think?

And secondly, I've done a lot of reading on trellis systems for grapes and I'm still a little fuzzy. I'll be growing them on some sort of trellis up the side of our house (there is enough light). So the trellis systems that vineyards use (the one vertical stem and then horizontal top growth) wouldn't work for me. I need a trellis idea that I can put up the side of a house. It seems (correct me if I'm wrong) that grapes need to grow somewhat horizontally . . . how do I reconcile that with a trellis on the side of our house? Any ideas would be great. Any pictures would be even better, as I've found very few in my searches!

Thanks a lot!

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It is possible that your grape plant was given to you for dead because it really was dead. No amount of rooting hormone, soaking in water, or the most tender care will bring a plant back from the dead.

If you have already put the plant in the ground, leave it where you planted it. If there is the spark of life left in this grapevine, pulling it out and potting it up now would finish it off for sure.

Why do you have to trellis the grapes up the side of your house? It would seem you could build a trellis right next to the house, and allow the grape to spread laterally as grapes are inclined to do.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 12:17AM
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cziga(Zone 5 -Toronto)

I know, it is possible that it is dead. I am going to try to bring it back - lots of times, plants can be revived with a bit of love and the proper attention. And grapes are pretty resilient, I just don't know exactly what the "proper" attention would be...

The thing is, the grapes (the only space for them) is on the house. If the trellis were a little away from the house and still straight up, it might work . . . but I don't quite understand what you mean? You mean like a windmill shaped trellis? But standing away from the house?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 12:51PM
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Just soak in water and plant. Rooting hormone will do nothing but inhibit any live buds from pushing. If there is a live bud near the roots, it will push. If not, then it is dead, even with live roots (grapes can't produce adventitious buds).

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 1:13PM
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cziga(Zone 5 -Toronto)

. . . and another question about training the plant:

I train one main stem to develop, going upwards. I prune it just above a bud, so that it splits into 2 arms, and train them sideways, about 3 ft above the ground. The main stem keep going up to the second wire (about 6 ft above the ground), or trellis arm, and then I prune it again to develop 2 more side shoots, which are again trained sideways. So it now looks like:


[ = main stem
-- = side stems
(and ignore the ... they were just to get the spacing right)
Looks kind of like a backwards F and a right shaped F right next to each other?

Is this right?

Then each spring, before it grows, I prune the side arms back but I never prune the main trunk? Doesn't the main trunk get old?

I don't know why I'm having so much trouble picturing this, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 2:06PM
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That is one way to do it, but you can just use a single wire as well. Some growers train the cordons to the lower wire only, but also use an upper wire for extra support of the upright growing canes. I like to use a single wire 5 ft off the ground for better air circulation.

For a good tutorial on pruning grapes, see the link below. This is an excerpt from Lon's book, The Grape Grower, which I highly recommend for anyone interested in grapes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lon Rombough's grape pruning page

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 3:52PM
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backyardener(z6 Idaho)

See the link below from Oregon State University, it has some great pictures to explain the pruning/training. I agree with Kiwinut... I use a single wire about 5-6 feet from the ground.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grape Growing

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 4:12PM
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I recommend buying that book, The Grape Grower. It has a lot of great pictures and explanations of exactly what you need to do and why. I've found it to be an excellent resource.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 8:32PM
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cziga(Zone 5 -Toronto)

That's actually a really great book (excerpts) . . . thanks a lot, very helpful info. Especially the photos!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 1:03AM
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price403(Zone 6b, WV)

What type of grape is it? Some grapes grow with the canes growing up (European grapes) and some grow with the canes drooping (American grapes). This determines the height of the trellis wire for your cordon arms.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 12:14PM
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