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Growing Grape Vines in pots

While grape vines will undoubtedly be less trouble if planted in a sunny spot in the garden where they can romp away without the vital human interventions of regular feeding and watering, there are some distinct advantages to growing them in pots which we discuss below.

Before the days of being able to fly ripe fruit around the world, the only way to get grapes to the dinner table was to grow them yourself. The Victorians with their grand country houses became very enthusiastic and a trifle competitive with their potted grape endeavours. The piece de-resistance at the end of a large meal would be the wheeling in of a potted fruit tree where lucky diners could pluck perfect fruit directly from the vine. Some tables were even built with holes in the centres to accommodate the pots.

These Grape varieties will do well in our fickle climate:

  • Rondo 
  • Ortega
  • Schonburger
  • Muscat Bleu
  • Phoenix 

Depending on the variety, a small collection of potted vines will thrive and successfully fruit in a small greenhouse or outside on a terrace. Here are our top tips to ensure you are well on your way to your first harvest:

  • Young vines can be planted in 3ltr pots in John Innes 3 compost and trained up a stout cane.
  • They can be trained as standards with the fruiting laterals growing as a mop at the top. To achieve this, you need to prune back the main stem to a bud at about 5ft, at the end of the first season, when the leaves drop. 
  • The next spring allow about 5 new laterals at the top, pinching them back to 6 leaves and carefully removing all other growth below as it appears.
  • Remove any flowers or fruit that appear in the first year. 
  • The second winter prune those laterals back to one bud in the autumn. The following spring re-pot into a larger pot, say 6ltr again with a heavy John Innes 3 compost, as much as anything to prevent it toppling over. 
Tuesday 18th March, 2014