How to Grow Grapes
Whether made into wine, cooked into jams, or eaten fresh from the vine, grapes are an absolute crowd-pleaser.
Sometimes called scuppernong grapes, muscadines are native American grapes that thrive in hot, humid climates. As such, they do best in Zones 7 through 10. These easy-to-grow grapes are great eaten straight off the vine or when made into jams, preserves or wine. Select a self-fertile variety such as Tara, which does not require another plant for cross-pollination.
Muscadines require at least six to eight hours of sun per day. Avoid low-lying spots with poor drainage. Use a garden fork to work a generous amount of organic soil conditioner and some slow-release 5-10-10 fertilizer into the site to a depth of 10".
Muscadine vines require a trellis of some kind on which to grow. The rule of thumb in a home garden is to plant one muscadine vine per 20' of trellis. Consider setting pressure-treated posts in concrete to build a simple fence or overhead arbor.
Bare-root muscadine vines are best planted in spring. Dig a planting hole at the base of a trellis post. Place the bare-root vine in the hole and fan out its roots. The point on the stem where the roots flare out should be about 1" below the soil line. Backfill with soil until the hole is three-quarters full. Water well to settle the soil. Finish filling the hole and water again.
Proper pruning techniques can make or break the success of a grape vine. After planting, prune the vine back to just one vigorous cane. The following spring, prune all but the most vigorous canes. Carefully tie the remaining canes to the trellis with twine. In future years, continue to keep only the most vigorous canes while pruning older, weaker ones.
Muscadines are tolerant of dry weather once they're established, but they require irrigation when the vines are young and during fruit production. Muscadines will grow and produce in poor soil but are most productive when additional nutrients are provided. In late spring, apply a slow-release 5-10-10 fertilizer.
Unlike bunch grapes, which ripen and are harvested in clusters, muscadine grapes ripen individually over a several-week period in late summer. When muscadines are ripe, they remove effortlessly from the vine. Harvest by hand so as not to bruise the fruit.