Growing Grapes In A Pot – What to know…

Hi dear grape growing friends.

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.  After the previous blog post, I received quite a few emails about planting distances and row directions, but one that often pops up is the question about growing grapes in a pot.

As I said in an earlier blog post; growing grapes in a pot, is not the ideal way of growing a grape vine, but I do understand that, in the city, available gardening space is limited,

I will try to give my opinion on growing grapes in a pot and what to do, and how to manipulate the grape vine to stay under control on a stoop or balcony, but first, here is an email and pictures from Alex.

Dear Danie:

I have a question about growing grapes in a pot.  I found your website while doing some research on grape growing.  I enjoyed your site, your newsletter and your “personal touch”.

Now for the rest of the story.  I have always enjoyed gardening and my hobby for many years was growing exotic tropical fruit trees when I lived in a house in Hialeah, Florida.  Now I live in an apartment in North Miami Beach, Florida but my love for plants has not diminished.

Last year on my way back from Europe, I bought a grape vine in upstate New York and wanted to start growing grapes in a pot.  I never had experience with grapes and did not know if they would even grow in Florida, but I wanted to try it anyways and of course, hoping for the best.

Last July I planted it in a large pot on my balcony in hoping to succeed with growing grapes in a pot.  Unfortunately, I had to plant it on the North side of the property, so it doesn’t get the full sun.  It only gets some sun it in the morning and in the late afternoon.

The variety that I planted is “MARS”.  As you can see by the pictures, the vine is growing nicely and this year it has given me a small cluster. 

growing grapes in a pot

growing grapes in a pot

Last year I did no trimming at all to the vine at all, because I had no knowledge of it and that is why I started researching.  This year I will trim it, but I need your advice on what or how to do it.

It now has three or four canes coming off the main vine right at the pot about 10 inches from the soil as you can see on the photo. 

growing grapes in a pot

I plan to cut all the canes off except for the biggest one so that it can become the main stem.  Is this appropriate?

Also, I do not know if the rest of the vine should be pruned using the cane method or the bud method.  Your comments on this will be greatly appreciated.  Because of the space limitation, I plan to prune it to where it only has 3 or 4 canes growing on the wires I have placed between the uprights on the balcony.

When would be the best time of the year for me to do this trimming?  Also, since I am brand new at grapes, I do not know when to pick the grapes that are now growing on the vine.  How can I tell when they are ready to pick.  Of course, this would be for table eating and not for wine making.

Again, I want you to know that I enjoy your newsletters and emailing with you and I thank you in advance for any help and information you can give me.


Growing Grapes In A Pot – My comments

Okay friends, I will start by thanking Alex for the email and the pictures.  As he rightfully said; his grape vine is doing great (although he’s growing grapes in a pot!)- there are no visible symptoms of diseases or anything out of the ordinary.

Growing Grapes In A Pot – Let’s quickly have a look at the variety he chose:

Mars is a black/blue seedless grape with big berries (for a seedless grape) and grows quite vigorously (as you can see from the picture).  One known problem with Mars is, it takes some time to become productive – Alex, that is why you didn’t get any grapes last year, and only one bunch this year.

However, as the variety grows older, it will produce more fruit (good news for Alex).

The grapes taste a bit assiduous, so it’s better to leave it on the vine until it has fully ripened and the berries are soft – normally about two to three weeks before Concord grapes ripen.

Growing rapes in a pot – Pruning:  I did some research on the variety and found that, because of it’s vigour and fruitfulness later on, it is best to prune with spurs (bud pruning as Alex called it).  Easier said than done?? :-)

Okay, let me try to explain what to do when growing grapes in a pot:

If it was my grape vine, I would move the vine to the middle of the balcony (luckily it is in a pot!), right next to one of the middle pillars and split the vine to grow to both the left and the right..  Why?

When you look at the pictures, you will notice there is quite a long distance from the one side of the balcony to the other.  The little light hanging from the roof indicates that that pillar is the middle of the balcony (right?).  If you are to make a cordon or arm from one side of the balcony to the other side, it would be quite a long cordon!  Remember, we must always try to keep the “old wood” on a grape vine as few as possible, as the sap flow to ripen canes and grapes and to feed the rest of the vine is much slower in old wood.  The longer the cordon or arm, the further is it is away from the main stem and the slower the sap flow will be.

If you split the vine or in Alex’s case, use two of the existing canes to develop two arms (one to each side) on the middle wire, the distance for each arm from the main stem is only half the length it would have been – does this make any sense?

Because of the limited space Alex have and most certainly most other grape growers who will be Growing Grapes In A Pot, I would only develop one arm to each side and prune spurs on the this arm.  These spurs will be the fruit bearers and the place where new shoots develop in the future.  Remember that space is limited here and the vine will become too big for his balcony with more than one arm to each side.  If however you have a more space, you can develop more than one arm to each side.

When Growing Grapes In A Pot The initial training of a cane on this wire is done in summer and then in winter (early spring), you need to prune a single cane on each of the two wires.  From these canes, shoots will develop and then in the next pruning season you can start to prune spurs from these shoots.  (For those of you who are members of the Complete Grape Growing System, refer to the pruning and training section – year 1 and 2)

Here is a picture that will explain it in more detail how Alex should be growing grapes in a pot.

growing grapes in a pot

I hope this will give you more ideas of what to do when you growing grapes in a pot.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.


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growing grapes in a pot

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