When grapes are mentioned, the sunny slopes of the south of France immediately come to mind as the perfect setting for growing grapes. While you may not live in the south of France, can you successfully replicate this environment and grow grapes in a container?
Grapes can be grown in a container 24 inches in diameter and at least 18 inches deep. The container must be light-colored to prevent overheating the roots. The grow container must have drainage holes and a well-drained potting mix with peat moss to raise the acidity to between 5.0 and 6.8pH.
Grapes can be grown in containers, but some additional knowledge is required to ensure the vines thrive in the pot and produce healthy growth, leading to a good crop yield of container-grown grapes! We have some inside information to ensure your success in growing grapes in a container!
Can Grapes Be Grown In A Container?
Grapes prefer growing in temperate climates where the winters are not too cold, and the summers are not too hot. If you can provide an environment similar to this in a container, you can grow grapes almost anywhere.
Grapes can be successfully grown in containers on balconies, patios, decks, gazebos, pergolas, or arbors.
The biggest challenge to growing grapes in a container is you cannot move the plant to a new location unless the trellis is moveable or part of the container structure.
Consequently, you need to pick the best spot for growing grapes as soon as you place them in the container and configure the trellis system.
Grapevines are prolific growers and will quickly outgrow your space if you don’t keep them under control. If you are growing your grapes in a small space, you will need to be diligent in training and pruning your grapevine to keep it manageable.
Despite some additional work in training and pruning the plant, grapes are generally fairly easy and trouble-free to grow. Training your grapevine can even become a therapeutic gardening activity, much like cultivating bonsai.
Best Container For Growing Grapes
Plastic containers can be used for growing grapes as long as the color of the plastic is light rather than dark. Dark plastic absorbs too much heat from the sun, which heats up the roots and is detrimental to the grapevine.
The best option for a container for grape growing is a wood container or a terracotta container, which keeps the grape roots at a cooler temperature.
If you plant your grapevine in a dark-colored container, try to keep the container in shaded conditions but the vine in the sun.
The container must be quite large, with a minimum diameter of 24 inches and at least 18 inches deep. This size container gives the grapes sufficient space for the roots to expand and gives the vine a firm foundation. The container must have sufficient drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
The container must be able to support a trellis structure for the vine to climb and support the vine as it starts to fruit. If the container does not have space to accommodate a trellis, you must position the container where the vine can climb a trellis on a wall or secured directly in the ground.
A trellis is a requirement for growing grapes successfully, whether in a container or in the ground. Ensure your trellis is robust and firmly secured; the vine can become heavy enough to collapse a poorly constructed trellis, especially when the bunches of grapes start to grow.
Best Growing Medium For Grapes In A Container
The best soil to grow grapes in a container is slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.8 is ideal for most grape cultivars.
The soil must be organically rich and well-draining; grapes are heavy feeders and deteriorate quickly with waterlogged roots.
A premium potting that includes peat moss to increase the acidity is the ideal growing medium for grapes in a container.
Do not use soil directly from your garden, which could inhibit the drainage in the container and introduce bacteria and unwanted fungal spores in the container soil.
How To Take Care Of Grapes In A Container
It is best to propagate your grapevines from cuttings or purchase an established grapevine from a plant nursery than trying to grow the plant from seed. Planting from seed can be done, and many gardeners do this successfully, but I prefer to use an established plant to get a harvest sooner.
Many different grape cultivars are bred to thrive in certain climate conditions. It is important to select a grape variety that will do well in your climate. This reduces the care the vine needs and avoids the disappointment of a poor harvest.
You can only expect to get a good harvest from your grapevine in its second or third year of growth once it has been trained on the trellis and has enough root structure to promote fruit development.
The best time to plant grapes in a container is either in the early fall or in the early spring. Grapes planted in the fall must be pruned back heavily in the late winter to prepare for the next growing season. For this reason, I prefer to plant in early spring to give the plant summer growth to establish roots before the need for heavy pruning.
Where To Position Your Container-Grown Grapes
Grapevines need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day on the foliage and the fruit. An ideal position is where the plant will receive morning sun but partial shade in the afternoon.
It is important for the roots not to get too hot, hindering the vine’s growth or killing the plant. The container should be shaded as much as possible, and the appropriate type of container chosen to prevent the roots from overheating.
The vines and the fruit need good air circulation to discourage fungal diseases, so position the vine where it will get good airflow.
How Much Water Do Grapes Need In A Container?
The water needs of your grapevine will depend on how hot and dry your local climate is in the growing season. Growing grapes in mild temperate climates will require less watering than in hot, dry climates.
On average, you should water your grapevine once a week, giving them at least 1 inch or 2.5cm of water at each watering.
Do Grapes In Containers Need Feeding?
Grapes are perennial plants that grow for several seasons and produce fruit. The nutrients in the container soil will become depleted as the grapevine uses the nutrients to grow and produce fruit.
Grapes can be fed annually with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as compost rich in animal manure. During the fruiting season, the plant can benefit from a once a week or once every two weeks feed with a balanced NPK fertilizer.
Mulch the top of the container with a well-matured compost low in nitrogen. This mulch will keep the moisture in the growing medium and provide a slow-release top-down food for the vine.
Training And Pruning Your Container Grapes
Growing grapes in containers makes pruning and training one of the most important tasks to keep your grapevine controlled in the space and concentrate the nutrients on fruit production.
The best practice for container-grown grapes is to have two branches from the main stem and trim off all subsidiary growth. Many gardeners will prune fruit from the plant in the first year of the vine’s growth to promote root development and vine growth to train on the trellis.
There are two main grapevine pruning techniques; cane pruning and spur pruning. Cane pruning is a harsher pruning method, and you can use this method in a smaller growing space. Spur pruning leaves more growth on the vine.
Pruning is typically done at the end of winter, just before the start of the new growing season. The type of pruning technique you decide on will depend on your preference and circumstances. Both options work well to stimulate new fruit-bearing growth on the vine.
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Growing grapes is not as challenging as you think, but it requires more attention than many other plant types. However, if you are a gardener, you will enjoy having more involvement in the growing of the grapevine, and you will derive more satisfaction enjoying the harvest!
Growing grapes in a container is not only possible, but it works well and is rewarding from a gardening point of view. You have more control over the direct growing environment of the vine; it makes it easier to control the feeding and watering of the grapevine. If you have never tried growing grapes in a container, I highly recommend you give it a try!