How to Grow, Harvest and Propagate Grape Vines

1. Reisling Sylvander

Over the winter months and early spring you can propagate shrubs, trees and vines using hardwood cuttings. Grape vines are a good example of propagating using hardwood cuttings. For the best new plants, only healthy pencil-thick stems of the vine that have been ripened during the previous summer should be selected for propagation.

Stems that are not ripe, green or weak will rot when propagated by themselves and should not be used. Also avoid stems that have black lumps on the outside; they indicate winter spore clusters of botryis mildew. These infected stems should be discarded and destroyed.

Hardwood cuttings can be propagated indoors or out. Of course only hardy varieties can be propagated outdoors in areas subject to frost, but these varieties may be propagated indoors along with non-hardy varieties to obtain quicker results.

To buy Grape Vines from late autumn to early spring Click Here

Reisling Sylvander shown in (picture 1) is a hardy outdoor grape vine whose grapes are used to make wine.

November-February. Choose healthy well-ripened stems.

The healthy, well ripened stems should be carefully chosen and cut with secateurs from the vine, or selected from those cut off the vine when carrying out the winter pruning. Each stem should have three or four buds and be ideally between 9 in (22 cm) and 12 in (30 cm) long (picture 2). Making a sloping cut, trim the stem just above and below the top and bottom buds respectively. Cut hardwood stem of grape vine.
  2. Cut stem with 3 or 4 buds.
Apply rooting powder to hardwood stem of grape vine.
3. Wet and dip into rooting powder.

Propagating Stems Outdoors.

Prepare trench for hardwood grape vine cuttings.
4. Line trench with sand.
Space grape vine hardwood cuttings evenly apart.
  5. Place stems evenly apart.
Cover grape vine hardwood stems.
6. Leave just the tops of the stems with
a bud exposed.
Outdoors make a V-shaped trench, with the back wall vertical. Fill the bottom couple of inches of the trench with sharp sand to ensure good drainage (picture 4). Before planting, dip the bottom end of each cutting into water and then into hormone rooting powder (picture 3). Lay each cutting against the vertical wall of the trench with the bottom end of the cutting in the sand (picture 5). Plant the cuttings about 4 in (10 cm) apart. When one row has been planted fill the trench in. Leave only the bud exposed above the surface of the ground (picture 6)

Carefully firm the stems in, by treading alongside each stem. Only an inch (2.5 cm) or so of the stem with one bud should be showing above the ground. Label each row to show the variety. By the following winter they will be ready for planting out in their permanent positions.

Propagating Stems Indoors.

Indoors, grape vines can be propagated just as easily. While it may be difficult to propagate large numbers here, it is the best way to ensure good results for special and unusual varieties, as well as being extremely interesting to watch. Indoor propagation also enables the stems to build up a larger plant quicker than those planted outside.
Buy, use potting compost.
7. Use John Innes Potting compost No.1
Place vine hardwood stems evenly apart in pot.
  8. Place stems evenly apart.
Cover vine hard wood cuttings.
9. Cover cuttings  
A 5 in (12.5 cm) pot is a convenient size in which to propagate several stems. Use John Innes potting compost No. 1 as the growing medium (picture 7). Half-fill each pot with the John Innes potting compost. Dip the bottom of each stem in turn, first into water and then into hormone rooting powder (picture 3). Plant the stems so that they lie at an equal distance around the edge of the pot. Normally six stems can be planted per pot (picture 8).

When the stems are in, fill up the remainder of the pot with potting compost, leaving the top bud of each stem above the compost. The pots should be covered to keep them surrounded with moisture. They can be covered with a plastic bag or dome (picture 9) or placed in a propagating frame.

If bottom heat is not available, the stems will still root well but take slightly longer. The pots should be placed in a cold frame, greenhouse or on a wndow sill in a warm position. Shade the stems from direct sunlight. Ensure that the soil is kept moist but not wet. The top bud should be showing signs of growth within a few weeks.

When the top bud has grown a shoot about 9 in (22.5 cm) long, with five or six leaves, remove the plant from the pot (picture 10). It can now be potted up into its own 5 in (12.5 cm) pot of John Innes potting compost No. 1 (picture 11) and labelled with the name of the variety. Continue to grow the plant in this pot in the greenhouse or in a sheltered position on the patio.
  10. Cutting showing good roots.
Variety of gape vine potted up.
11. Cover cuttings  


Grape vine plant for sale or planting out.
 12. Ready to plant out
Plants started off in January or February under heat should by June have grown a stem 5 to 6 ft long (picture 12) and they will be ready for planting out in the greenhouse border or hardened off on the patio or in a sheltered place before going to their permanent position in the garden.

Those plants started later or without heat will take a month or so longer before being ready for planting out. Ensure that the vine is well watered in when being planted outside to prevent a dry spell from dehydrating the plant.

Before planting out, dig the ground over and incorporate plenty of well-rotted compost and manure. A couple of handfuls of bonemeal per plant forked in as well will promote a good rooting system.


  If you wish to continue growing the vine in a pot in the greenhouse pot it up to a 9 in (22.5 cm) pot and use John Innes Compost No. 3 as the growing medium. During the following winter pot the plant on into a 12 in (30 cm) pot using John Innes Compost No. 3 again.

  Grape vines can be bought late autumn to early spring. Click here to see a selection of grape vines. They can be grown out in a greenhouse or outdoors in the garden against a south or south-west facing wall. For more information on each of these varieties please read the descriptions given with each plant.


See Fruit Presses from UK and from USA
See Wine Making Equipment from UK and from USA
See Home Brewing Equipment from UK and from USA
buy From Vines to Wines by Jeff Cox. This book describes all the stages of growing vines, harvesting them and making your own wines. See the 5 star reviews and order this book from Amazon, click here for UK or here for USA.  

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