Growing grapes from cuttings is a simple way to turn trimmings into new plants!
Grapevines are truly a gift that keeps on giving. All you need are a pair of pruning shears, some deep pots, and potting soil to propagate as many cuttings as you’d like. Not to mention, in my experience, they’re one of the easiest plants to propagate — whether you get started in the winter or the middle of summer.
I’m going to walk you through two of the main methods for growing grapes from cuttings.
The first method, which is the most beginner-friendly, involves taking cuttings from hardwood (also known as dormant wood). This works well for most types of grapes, and it generally has a 70 to 80% success rate, even for beginners.
The second method, which is perfect activity if you’re someone with a green thumb who likes a challenge, involves greenwood cuttings that have been taken from the plant during the grapevine’s active growing season. While it’s harder to accomplish, a few grape varieties such as muscadines and pigeon grapes can only be propagated using greenwood cuttings.
Whichever method you choose, the odds are very much in your favor that you’ll be gifted with several brand new plants for your efforts. Growing grapes from cuttings is incredibly rewarding, and you can grow literally hundreds of grape vines from your winter grape pruning.
I’ve found that the entire process, from pruning to regrowth, has been a fascinating homeschool activity for my little ones to participate in and learn from over the course of the growing season.
How to Grow Grapes from Cuttings
When it comes to propagating grape cuttings, you can use either hardwood cuttings or greenwood cuttings. Hardwood cuttings are taken from the dormant woody vines of grapevines over the winter, and greenwood cuttings are taken from the still-green vines of flourishing green plants.
Although the clippings look considerably different, the method for propagating each type of cutting is fairly similar.
Hardwood cuttings, which are removed from inactive grapevines over the fall and winter, essentially look like sticks. At first glance it’s hard to imagine the cuttings producing any growth at all, let alone flourishing, but with a little bit of TLC you’ll be surprised at how the cuttings transform over time.
You can use cuttings leftover from pruning grapevines, or you can intentionally remove specific parts of the plant for the purpose of propagation.
To get started, take a good look at the stems you plan on propagating, paying extra attention to where the plant nodes are (this is where the leaf buds will eventually grow from). You’ll be taking cuttings from the stems using a sharp pair of pruning shears, being careful to leave one or two leaf nodes on the remaining branch so that the grapevines will continue to grow and remain healthy after the stems have been removed.
Because the cuttings will be planted in a deep pot (and eventually into the ground) it’s important to keep them on the longer side. I aim to keep them at around 12 to 18 inches in length. Once you’ve gathered the cuttings, store them in a cold, moist environment until the beginning of the growing season.
A basement or the crisper drawer of your refrigerator works well for this, just be sure to wrap them in plastic and put damp shavings or newspaper in there with them to keep them from drying out.
You have two options for prepping the cuttings for soil: you can callus the cuttings or dip them into a rooting hormone right before planting the stems in a deep pot. If you’re already familiar with the callusing process, which involves exposing the cut base to moist heat until it begins to heal and develop roots, then you can go ahead and prepare the stems for planting.
Moist “heat” isn’t exactly heat, it’s more like room temperature. Given that they’ve been in cold storage for a while, it’ll be heat to them.
I actually prefer to dip the roots in a rooting hormone, which is a much easier and more fail-proof method. Instead of waiting for the cut side to callus, you can dip the stems in the rooting hormones immediately before planting the cuttings about 2 to 3 inches deep in moist potting soil.
Give the cuttings a good water after they’ve been planted and keep the soil moist as they continue to grow. Keep the potted grape cuttings indoors until the growing season officially begins. I like to keep them in our attached greenhouse until it’s time to replant them outdoors, but a sunny windowsill actually works better.
You don’t want the plants to get too hot and dry out at this early stage when they don’t have proper roots.
Alternately, you can dissolve a bit of rooting hormone in water and place the cuttings in a vase. Be sure to change the water every few days so it doesn’t get gross/slimy/moldy. The grapes regularly changed need clean fresh water to prevent plant disease, but they will root just fine in water without soil.
Once you see the roots start to form in water, it’s time to get those plants into soil. The water doesn’t have any nutrients, and they’ll need actual soil to develop properly over the long term.
Before you move the cuttings outside, make sure they’re firmly rooted in the pots. You’ll probably see buds beginning to appear after a couple of weeks, but the new roots will need longer to become established in the soil. The best time to replant grapevines is in early to mid-summer, giving the cuttings plenty of time to grow and thrive in the comfort of their pots.
In general, cuttings taken from dormant or hardwood have an 80 percent chance of success, which is why I like to start with several cuttings. That way, even if some don’t make it, I’ll still have plenty of cuttings to plant outdoors when the right time rolls around.
Since you want a deep pot, repurposed plastic water bottles work really well, just cut a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Milk jugs, either waxed paper or plastic work well too.
Propagating greenwood cuttings is a trickier endeavor, but still do-able if you have experience with propagating other actively-growing perennials. Unlike growing hardwood cuttings, which is relatively straightforward, there are additional factors to keep in mind and the cuttings themselves are prone to drying out before they can begin to take root.
Why propagate with greenwood cuttings?
For grapevine-growing enthusiasts, there are certain types of grapes that don’t have a high success rate if grown from hardwood cuttings. These varieties include muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia) and pigeon grapes (Vitis aestivalis), which have only a 1 to 2 percent chance of successful growth if propagated from hardwood (versus ~70 percent chance of success if grown from greenwood).
You might also want exponential grapevine growth, as cuttings can be removed from established cuttings and so on and so forth.
If you’re determined to propagate grapes from greenwood clippings, you’ll want to collect cuttings through late spring until late summer. Using pruning shears, cut stems from the vine that are approximately 6 to 10 inches.
Greenwood cuttings are more delicate than hardwood cuttings, which makes them weaker and more prone to damage, and they’ll need to stand up once potted. Just like with hardwood cuttings, cut above the node and leave one or two healthy nodes behind on the remaining vine.
Carefully remove all of the leaves on the fresh cutting except for one, this is to keep water loss at a minimum as the cutting begins to grow. Dip the cutting in a rooting hormone before immediately planting in potting soil.
Place the potted cuttings in a warm, moist environment (again, we keep ours in our attached greenhouse). It will take about 1 to 2 weeks for roots to begin growing and anywhere from 3 to 7 weeks for the roots to become long enough to replant the grape cuttings outdoors.
It’s incredibly important to keep the greenwood cuttings in a moist, humid environment until they develop roots. Most people opt for a misting system to keep them constantly damp so they don’t dry out, but then you also run the risk of fungal problems.
Be sure to keep them in shade until they’re established, as that’s another good way to keep greenwoood cuttings from drying too much before they have roots that can support plant growth.
Grapes aren’t the only fruiting perennials that can be propagated by cuttings.
You can also use the hardwood cutting method to propagate a number of other plants, and many varieties have 80-99% success rates. We grow sea buckthorn from cuttings and have had near 100% success rates.
Likewise, it’s incredibly easy to grow elderberries from cuttings.
Growing blueberries from cuttings is a bit trickier, but success rates are still reasonably high. Blueberry plants are incredibly expensive at nurseries, so it’s worth the effort even with a somewhat lower success rate.
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