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I am a total beginner at gardening, and am having a go at trying to grow a grapevine for fun :) I am looking for some advice before I prune it, because I don't want to do something damaging.

The grapevine is a "boskoop glory" variety, and I planted it in early spring this year. It is maybe only a year or two old in total. Over the summer it has grown to around 1m tall in total. It looks like this:

enter image description here

It's maybe not so easy to see in the photo, so I have added a drawing. There are two branches at about 30cm from the bottom, and another two at about 40cm from the bottom. All branches are a similar thickness.

I thought that a good way to grow this would be with some horizontal wires across the fence, so get something like this style:

enter image description here

But then my instinct says I should cut off the bottom two branches of my plant completely, and try to train the top two horizontally. Is this a good idea? It feels like the bottom two are probably a bit too low to train across some horizontal wires.

Also, does it look like I should make other cuts at this stage? Should I remove the bunches of fruit completely at this point, to concentrate on growing the structure? As I say, just learning, so help would be great!

2 Answers 2

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Once established grape vines can be vigorous, so you need to allow for that in your choice of pruning method. Against a fence, a better option than the one you've shown might be just a single "T" as your permanent framework, with the horizontal branch about 15-18 inches above the ground. Vines fruit on the current season's growth, so each winter you cut everything back to the permanent "T". During the growing season all new growth (that year's fruiting canes) are tied in vertically against the fence. The following winter, all those fruiting canes are cut back to the "T". This is a variation the rod and spur system discussed here. I would also suggest you increase the area of bare soil around the vine so it's not competing so much for water and nutrients with the surrounding grass. Aim for a half circle of bare/mulched soil about 1 metre diameter.

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  • Thanks for this answer Peter, it's very helpful general guidance for me. Two questions (just curious): 1) Why do you suggest only one level of horizontal vine, as opposed to the two levels that I was considering before? 2) Why only 18 inches above the ground for the level? (I would have thought closer to the top of the fence). Is it just personal preference, or is there some other reason, to do with the growth? Thanks for your advice!
    – teeeeee
    Aug 10, 2023 at 9:43
  • @teeeeee - (1) The young canes growing vertically up from the bottom permanent horizontal would grow over/through the young canes growing vertically up from the top permanent horizontal, which is not ideal. (2) The young canes from the bottom permanent horizontal will naturally grow up. Therefore, have this bottom horizontal close to the ground. Does that make sense? There are various options for a permanent framework. Just remember the vines fruit on the current season's growth.
    – Peter4075
    Aug 10, 2023 at 12:27
  • Hi Peter, thanks for your reply. It does indeed make sense. For some reason I was thinking that the shoots/canes on the lower horizontal level would be hanging down. But it sounds like they will grow rigidly upwards from what you are saying. In that case, I can see why it would need to be quite close to the ground.
    – teeeeee
    Aug 10, 2023 at 13:48
  • I am a little confused, because I see many images online of the new canes and fruits hanging down, instead of growing up..
    – teeeeee
    Aug 10, 2023 at 13:52
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    @teeeeee - Yes, you could have the permanent horizontal at the top of the fence and let all the new growth hang down. As mentioned, there are various training methods. Possible snags with a high permanent horizontals are (a) they will take longer to establish, and (b) the new growth may be more difficult to tie in and therefore be more susceptible to breakage.
    – Peter4075
    Aug 10, 2023 at 17:24
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Normal advice on pruning grapevines is to do it only in Winter. So be patient, rather than hacking up your new vine now. Choose from the shoots it grows over the rest of the Summer and Fall when you prune in Winter.

Probably best to remove the fruit (now) for this year, yes.

You could also get your wires in place, as that will guide your choices.

And you may want to mulch-out the grass growing close to it.

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  • Great, thank you! Useful bit to know. I have cut off the fruit now, and opened up the grass area, and will re-visit the pruning in the winter!
    – teeeeee
    Aug 10, 2023 at 9:44

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