Propagation of Grapevines
Bruce Bordelon, Professor, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Grapevines are one of the easiest fruit crops to propagate. They root easily from hardwood cuttings. Cuttings are collected while dormant, and stored in refrigeration until ready for striking. Cut prunings into 3-4 nodes long sections (Fig 1 and 2). Make the basal cut just below the lower bud, and the upper cut 1 to 2 inches above the top bud. Disbud the lower bud(s) to encourage callus formation and rooting (Fig. 3). It is critical that the polarity of the cuttings be maintained. The basal end must be down and the distal end up for the cutting to root.
If a greenhouse is available, cuttings can be struck directly into rooting meeting in pots of various sizes. The pots need to be tall enough to allow two nodes of the cutting to be beneath the surface. Waxed paper sleeves (e.g. milk cartons) work well (Fig. 4). Choose a loose potting mix that drains water readily. Ideal media should stay moist, but not hold excess water to allow for good aeration and growth of callus and roots. Keep the cuttings lightly watered several times daily to prevent emerging buds from drying out before roots can establish. If a mist system is available, that is the best choice. Cuttings will begin to push shoots and root in about 2 weeks under normal conditions (Fig. 5). Once the root system becomes fully established, shoot growth will progress rapidly. Vines are ready to plant into the vineyard when shoots are at least 12 inches long and the root system is fully filling the container (Figure 6). Always wait until the danger of frost is past before planting green vines into the vineyard. Greenhouse grown plants are extremely sensitive to frost. It helps to harden-off greenhouse grown plants my moving them into an outdoor location for a few days before transplanting into the field.
Cuttings can be propagated in a garden situation as well. Cuttings are struck after the danger of frost is past. Till the soil deeply to allow insertion of the cuttings so that only one bud is above the soil surface. Mulching helps preserve moisture and control weeds. Cuttings can be struck through black plastic mulch. Stick cuttings about 6 to 12 inches apart so that they can be dug separately next year.
Click image to enlarge
Figure 1. Three to four-node cuttings
Figure 2. Bundles of cuttings tagged, ready for storage
Figure 3. Disbud lower node(s)
Figure 4. Wax paper cartons for propagation
Figure 5. Grape cutting beginning to root (2 weeks)
Figure 6. Well-rooted grapevine ready for transplanting to the field (4-6 weeks)