Growing grapes from cuttings is the most popular method for propagating grapes, but there are other simple methods for growing grapes worth considering.
I’ll talk you through 5 methods for propagating grapes from start to finish.
Grapes are one of the easiest plants to propagate at home, and they readily root from either hardwood or softwood cuttings. All you need is a few inches of grapevine, trimmed to include viable buds, and you’re well on your way to growing grapes from cuttings.
Each year, grapes need to be pruned back in the late fall and winter to ensure a good crop the following year. Those cuttings are often thrown away, but with just a bit of effort, you can turn those discards into hundreds of new plants.
In many cases, just taking a dormant cutting with a few buds attached and sticking it in the ground will suffice to start a whole new plant.
While propagating grapes from hardwood cuttings is by far the easiest and most economical way, there are five different ways to successfully propagate grapes. I’m going to take you through all 5 methods, and explain why you would choose each method.
The five ways to propagate grapes include:
- Hardwood Cuttings – Using dormant wood pruned off in the fall or winter.
- Greenwood Cuttings – Best used in the growing season to multiply plants quickly.
- Grafting – Used by vineyards when a specialized rootstock is required for disease resistance.
- Layering – Used to fill in blank spots in a row or by home gardeners to expand a grape patch.
- Growing from Seed – Not used commercially because grape varieties don’t come true to seed, but it can be a fun to experiment and create new varieties.
Growing Grapes from Cuttings
Since grapes are prolific growers, it’s easy to get a hold of cuttings. In the growing season, when the plants are actively putting out new shoots they’re called “greenwood” cuttings.
During the offseason, when plants are dormant, you’ll be growing grapes from “hardwood” cuttings.
Both methods have their benefits, but growing grapes from hardwood cuttings is the most common method since grapes are generally pruned while dormant.
How to Grow Grapes from Hardwood Cuttings
Hardwood propagation is the most common method, though there are a select few types of grapes that cannot be propagated using hardwood cuttings, like muscadine grapes.
Each year during the dormant season, grapes should be pruned to ensure a healthy crop the following year.
Grape vines can get leggy, and if the ratio of top wood to roots is too high, then the roots will not be able to feed all the grapes.
By pruning the vines, you ensure that the grapes produced are large, healthy and sweet.
The discarded cuttings from a single vine can be used to produce dozens of new plants each year.
Cuttings 12-18 inches in length with 3 or more buds are taken from dormant plants in the fall or winter. The hardwood cuttings are stored in a cold moist environment until the beginning of the growing season.
Shortly before the beginning of the growing season, the grape cuttings are either calloused to induce root growth or simply dipped in rooting hormone and placed in the soil.
To callus the cuttings, they’re exposed to prolonged moist heat to cause the cut base to begin to heal and generate stemcell like tissue that can develop into roots. This can be tricky, and if done incorrectly the cuttings can either mold or sprout prematurely.
For better results, dip them into rooting hormone before planting them 2 to 3 inches deep in moist potting soil.
Keep the soil moist, and you should see sprouts within a few weeks. Allow your cuttings to get established and firmly rooted in pots before transplanting them outdoors in the early to mid-summer.
Cuttings using dormant wood should have an 80% or greater success rate.
Growing Grapes from Greenwood Cuttings
Greenwood cuttings, or cuttings from actively growing vines, can also be used for propagation. Greenwood cuttings have the potential to dry out and are a less reliable method for beginners.
There are a few reasons why you might choose to propagate from greenwood cuttings:
- You want to begin propagation and it’s the summer
- A friend or neighbor offers you greenwood cuttings during the growing season
- You want to propagate a lot of grapes in a single year (once established and growing you can take cuttings from your cuttings and produce literally thousands of individual plants in a single year)
- You’re trying to grow a type of grape that doesn’t grow successfully from hardwood cuttings. Some examples include muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia) or pigeon grapes (Vitis aestivalis) which have a 1-2% success rate from dormant cuttings but roughly 70% success rate from green cuttings)
Cuttings about 4-6 inches long should be taken during the late spring until late summer from healthy grapevines.
All but a single leaf is removed to minimize water loss through the leaf pores. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone, and plant the greenwood cutting in potting soil. Keep your plant in a warm, humid environment.
Grape plants started from greenwood cuttings should begin to develop roots in 1-2 weeks.
Propagating Grapes by Layering
Layering means burying a portion of an established grapevine until it takes root. It’s a quick way to produce a few new vines during the growing season, and maybe the easiest method for the home gardener just wanting 2 or 3 new plants.
Layering is occasionally used in a commercial setting to use a neighboring vine to replace a dead vine within a row.
Choose a parent grape plant and bend a young, still flexible 1 to 3-year-old vine near the ground level until it reaches the ground.
Burry a portion of the vine beneath the soil, ensuring that you bury at least 1 node. The nodes are where new roots are most likely to form when buried. Make sure that the end of the vine is left above ground to continue growing.
The new grape plant should form roots within a few months and can be separated from the parent plant once it is well-rooted.
Propagating Grapes by Grafting
Growing Grapes from Seed
Grapes can be propagated from seed, but they will not be identical to the parent plant.
Generally, growing grapes from seed isn’t recommended, not because they won’t sprout, but because the new grapevines won’t be the same variety as the parents.
Grapes are generally propagated “clonally” so that they are “true to type.” When you plant grape seeds, they’re likely be somewhat like the parents, but they can vary considerably. Just as children only resemble their parents, grape seedlings may be bitter when the parent is sweet.
Growing grapes from seed is an important tool for grape breeders and those interested in developing their own variety of grape. It can also be a fun experiment for the home gardener, because you never quite know what you’ll get.
Grape seeds can be collected from seeded grapes, cleaned, and stored in a moist paper towel or directly in soil in the refrigerator for 3 months. After cold stratification in the fridge, the grape seed can be planted in the spring and will germinate into new plants.
I’ve presented 5 methods for propagating grapes, but I’d recommend that you try growing grapes from cuttings, preferably hardwood cuttings as that method is the most dependable.
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.
Perennial Growing Guides
Looking for more growing guides? Read on…
I have started grape cutting by simply putting them in seaweed extract water. In a week time, There is no sign of roots at the bottom but the bud above the water has sprouted and I can see leaves growing. The leaves seem to be growing vigorously. Should I let the leaf grow or remove them if they will affect root formation. Will these leaves when grow fully will lessen the moisture or sugar in the stem and make the cutting die? After 7 days I have transferred them to vermicompost, perlite, vermiculite mix.
So in seaweed extract water, it’s not at risk of drying out since it’s getting as much water as it needs. If it’s not wilting and still looking healthy now that you’ve transferred it, I’d leave it as it is. If the end was fresh and not calloused it may not be stimulated to root, but grapes are pretty resilient. They’re very good at growing and propagating with pretty minimal care. At this point, it’s just a tough balance between keeping it from wilting and keeping it so wet that it molds instead of taking root. With rooting hormone or callosing, it’s easier but you have a good chance anyway with what you’ve done. Good luck!
Good day..im living in tropical countries….how can the beginners grow that grapesvine
I cant speak to tropical countries specifically since Vermont is a cold climate. But generally, grapes are very easy to grow.
I’m in coastal Togo, West Africa, and bought rooted cuttings back in October 2017. They are now producing gazillions of grapes, which I can’t wait to see ripening. How exciting! you wouldn’t even have me believe grapes could be grown in such a warm climate a year ago. Now I’ve read they need the dormant stage, which does make sense. It seems that in countries where there is no winter, they are chemically altered to mimic winter and induce dormancy. I’m curious to see how it will work without this chemically induced dormancy stage. I’m told some people here do grow grape, although it’s not sold on the market so I guess it may not be possible to produce it in commercial quantities, due to the above limitations (the grapes we buy here are imported from South Africa, which has more marked seasons).
im Cyril from Ghana. i am interested in starting grape farming in Ghana. can you assist me in getting some cuttings?
I wouldn’t know the first thing about the legality of shipping grape cuttings anywhere, so I’m sorry I cant help. Anything that does well in our cold climate would likely have trouble in Ghana. Good luck though!
I was wondering what I should do with my little cutting for the winter. It is basically a little stick with a few leaves at this point and it’s almost fall. We get harsh winters here. I rooted him in water and have just recently planted him in soil in a pot. I feel like it is too little to plant outside but am not sure what to do with it indoors as I keep reading that they need the winter to sleep and recoup.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
A couple of options. It’s cold here in winter too, but you can “heel in” the pots in soil, basically plant the pots, and then mulch them heavily in straw. That’ll keep them insulated from the cold, and then you can pull them up in the late spring after thaw. Or, if you have a cold basement or garage that stays cool all winter you can bring them indoors in the late fall and overwinter them there. They do need to go dormant in the winter, so treating them like a houseplant indoors won’t work. They need dark and cool conditions.
One more reason for using a green cutting: you were cutting down all sorts of unwanted plants and accidentally cut the volunteer Grapevine you have in your yard.
read jour blog en i have bin very interested in what els jou have to offer .
I am a man from 67 jears old en i live in Holland
i have a littel glashouse in my backjarden end a am a grape entusiast
This jear (jan) i have imported
severel grape seeds from japan Roman ruby
And i have bekom 4 plants from thoos seeds the growing well and the are 1.5 meters toll.
IN total have i now 10 grape veraities planted so there is( glenora) ( lakemont)(()
(Katharina)( black alicantte)( ( souvenir) ( nero) (solaris) and( frankenthler)
I am curius wat kind of grapes the wil give. within 2jears from now. I have allso kyoho vines imported in (jan) from singapore and there are also growing well and the are 1.80 meters toll . So i am a pensionado and have lots of time for my hobby.Excusses for my gramatica I have never laerned englisch on school!.
Wow John, it sounds like you’ll have quite the crop coming in shortly! Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog =)
Teresita m. Baniog
Hi ashley. I’m from the philippines and recently retired from the service. I am now pursuing my childhood dream, to plant grapes. I have collected several cuttings but i kack the knowledge of grape planting, they easily died after a leaf or two. But i do not lose hope that one day, i would see and hold a bunch of grapes from my garden. Thank you very much for your in put and i wish to learn more!!!!
Using the green steam method, should I plant the new rooted stock during the same summer of the cutting, or hold them over to spring? I live in Colorado and winters can be quite cold.
Thinking about rooting them in a 3″ biodegradable pots to make the planting in the vinyard less stressful on the plant. Thoughts?
Thanks so much.
Good question. I have the most experience with dormant cuttings and layering methods, less so with greenwood cuttings. I’d think they’d have rooted well enough if you start early and give them several months to put in roots, but I could be wrong. It may be better to just keep them in pots in a basement or unheated garage over winter… I’m sorry I don’t have a definitive answer. Personally, I’d plant them in fall because then there’s less chance of them drying out, molding or having issues they might have if I tried to store them in my basement (but I’m likely to forget them, and that may not be the correct answer if you’re dilligent.)
About 5 years ago, I took several single leaf cuttings. I planted 4-5 in pots. Only one survived. It grew a tiny leaf (about the size of a penny) in year 1. In year 2, roughly 2 leafs, again in the penny to quarter size range. Year, 3 about 5 leaves all relatively tiny. By the end of year 3, I had a plant ~ 10 inches high. Since animals kept pulling it, I planted in in the ground and put a fence around it. Now 2 years later, I have a relatively tiny plant, with only a few dozen or so leaves and the biggest of which is about 3-4″. The base is a stem that is ~ 1/4″ (although that may be generous). I have added manure compost, earth around it. It is in a sunny, well draining place. I have even tried chicken manure tea.
Any idea of why I seem to have a bonsai tree??? Yes, the soil is principally clay with only the upper part being proper earth. So, yes, the roots are most likely not all that deep. But would they not propagate laterally? and is that the reason behind the “miniaturized” plant? 5 years later, I had hoped to have a much larger plant. the source of the cuttings/leaves is a plant at a friend’s home. It was (before I cut it down) a good 5 x 10 yards in area. Mine is about 10-12 inches!
My goodness, that is a small one. Ours grow about 10-12 feet in a year if un-trimmed! (After the first year, where they grew just maybe 3 feet). There’s something wrong with the fertility there, though I don’t know enough about grape needs to guess as to what…
i lve in south florida and have srarted a grape tree for about 5 years
it is about 30 ft long and has lots of leaves , the main trunk is about 2 thik and it spread very nice
But sadly i do not get any grapes only many healty leaves
Is it because its to big or because it bears no fruit
Are you pruning it in the fall or winter?
In south Florida, is it getting the chill hours it needs?
Need 32-45 deg F > 150 hrs yr
It is now mid to late January (2021). I want to start growing grapes and I have a neighbor with established vines that have been neglected for several years. If I take hardwood cuttings now, can I plant them in pots indoors and hope to have plants that can be transplanted outside this spring? Any tips on what part of the hardwood stem to take the cuttings from? Thanks!
Yes you can! You want a young-ish end of the shoots, so the ends that would have been new growth last year or the year before (rather than big trunk wood). Each cutting should have at least 2 nodes on it, which you’ll see when you get to the grape. It’s like knuckles on your hand, and that’s where the leaves/etc come out of. Other than that, just trim them, dip them in rooting hormone and place them in potting soil. That’s it!
Hi, thank you for your detailed instructions on grape cuttings. For several years (4 attempts) I have been trying to propagate an Isabella vine from an old vine that hangs into public land , the grapes are delicious and I want a vine of my own). Each summer I take a small slip of 6 inches or so and put in soil and keep humid, often I try honey to get the roots established. On two occasions the vines have taken but then died from rot, I am now one my 5th attempt and used rooting hormone powder, a mix of peat and vermiculite, and am keeping in a small greenhouse at high humidity. It has now been one week and the vines look good, I have not watered yet as the mix is very slightly damp and the environment humid, I move the greenhouse indoors at night to keep the vines warm. Do you have any extra advice? It is late summer in Western Australia (Mediterranean climate). Thank you.
You may want to also try taking some hardwood cuttings when the plants are dormant in the fall or winter and then follow the instructions in the article for propagating hardwood cuttings to see if that works better for you.
Hi, there! I just potted up some hardwood grape cuttings, and they are currently in my basement on a heat mat. Should I be giving them supplemental lighting down there? If so, how much?
They definitely need light. They probably need about 8 to 10 hours per day.
One spectacularly easy method is to take your grape hardwood cuttings, turn them upside down and bury in the ground x 1 month. Finally remove them, turn right side up and plant in the potting soil (or final ground location). Our leaf sprout rate approaches 100%. This method was taught at a local master gardener class here in Idaho.
Wow, that’s amazing, I’m so glad it’s working for you, I’ll have to give that a try!
Why does upside work? Reason given by local experts is that upside down pushes phloem towards the horiz base cut promoting more food for starter root development of the cutting; phloem is the is primary conduit for food material to be moved throughout the plant.
Hello Ashley…I’ve successfully gotten a few clippings to bloom from my family’s 100 year old grape vines. I started them mid-winter 2021. I have them in quart size pots and hope to overwinter them again before I put them in the ground next summer 2022. Please advise me as to how to keep them going indoors over the winter. Thank you!
If you have a cold basement or garage that stays cool all winter you can bring them indoors in the late fall and overwinter them there. They do need to go dormant in the winter, so treating them like a houseplant indoors won’t work. They need dark and cool conditions.
Great article – I just ordered some scionwood for a “Jupiter” grape and will attempt to graft it (never tried grafting grapes before). One small comment – in bold letters it says “Cuttings using dormant wood should have an 80% or greater success rate.” And then in the next section it talks about some varieties which have a 1-2% success rate from dormant cuttings. Maybe put a little note on the first sentence that it depends on the variety or something? 🙂
Thanks for the suggestion. So glad you enjoyed the post.
I have found a cutting on the side of the road late spring. The adjacent grape farm was cut down months ago and stock grafted, not a sign of a green yet. Took the cutting home and started to clip from both ends until I found an area that had some green inside. The “good portion ( about 10 inches long) had very little hope at first glance.
I gently stripped 1 inch portion from the bottom, placed in a glass of water for 2 hours. Then I took it out of water, dried it with paper towel and brushed rooting hormone, both stripped area and bellow it. While the cutting was still in water I prepared the medium and a planter for planting in a large Coffee can. Cutting the bottom of the can and then re=inserting inside the can made proper opening for draining. The medium I used is a simple outdoor potting soil I had handy. Placed the cutting about e inches above the bottom I packed the can with soil and watered it.
5 weeks later there are healthy 3 shoots about 3 inches each with pencil thickness so I cut the side of the can ( plastic) and transplanted into 2 gallon plastic planter. Filled 3 inches of soil then carefully bended away the coffee can and rooted cutting with still in can soil placed to the center planter and packed sides with soil, watered.
Now, 2 months have passed. I have good grape baby vine. Will wait to see the fruits. If I do not like the fruits I can always use the rootstock and graft variety I like. If anyone wants I can email pictures from day 1 to date.
That’s great! Thanks so much for sharing.
Great article Ashley, thank you ! I took 10 hardwood cuttings off a few grape vines in February 2022, potted them together, and put them on an east-facing window sill inside my house. All have multiple stems/leaves growing from multiple nodes. So far so good. Once it’s a little warmer, I plan to move each cutting into their own large pot and keep them outside to allow further root maturation. Then, around fall, I am going to move 2-3 of them from the pots into their permanent location in soil (at least 6 feet apart). My question is about what happens next. I haven’t been able to find a lot of information on these next steps. I did read that one of the stems from the node will become the trunk of the new grape vine. Does that mean that we should pick one of the stems/leaves to be the new trunk and then prune the others off? Let’s say our new trunk is coming off one of the higher nodes that are like 10-12 inches off the ground. What happens to the rest of the cutting between the trunk and the ground? Does it also continue to grow and become part of the trunk? It’s just odd to imagine one of the stems from the top of the cutting becoming the new trunk since it can be high off the ground. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you !
Your main trunk will stay the same each year. You will want to cut off any old growth and leave just two active buds at the top of the trunk. Those buds will form the new growth. There are lots of really great pruning videos on YouTube that can give you a better visualization.