Ways to Trim Grape Vines

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Lawn & Garden

Grapes are a juicy and delicious fruit that can be grown in our own garden. However, like all plants, grape vines require proper care and management to produce healthy and tasty fruit. To ensure that your grape vine remains healthy and fruitful, it needs to be pruned regularly.

The following steps explain how to prune grape vines:

  • Train your grape vines so that there is one vertical trunk and four horizontal canes on a trellis or support of some kind.
  • Prune your grape vines in late autumn if you live in warm climates or in winter if you live in cold climates.
  • During the first year, limit the growth to two trunks and remove all other shoots and branches.
  • In the second year, choose the trunk that will produce better fruit and prune away the other one.
  • Prune the trunk at the top of the trellis so that side shoots develop.
  • Keep four evenly spaced, horizontal side shoots and prune away the rest. Keep 50 buds per side shoot and remove the rest.
  • Prune your grape vines each year to maintain the basic structure of one trunk and four canes, which will result in the fullest and healthiest grapes.
  • Remove all weak vines because they draw off nutrients from the healthy part of the plant.
  • Make pruning cuts at an angle to prevent moisture from accumulating in the vines. This will cause the ends to die and stop growing. [source: Phipps, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture].


1. When is the best time to prune grape vines?

The best time to prune grape vines is in late winter or early spring, before the buds start to swell. This is because pruning during this time helps to promote healthy growth and better fruit production. Pruning during the growing season can lead to excessive bleeding and the loss of nutrients.

2. How much should I prune off my grape vines?

The amount you should prune off your grape vines depends on the age and size of your vines. Generally, you should aim to remove between 70-90% of the previous year’s growth. This helps to promote better air circulation and sunlight penetration, which can lead to healthier vines and better fruit production.

3. What tools do I need to prune grape vines?

You will need a good pair of sharp pruning shears, a pair of loppers for thicker branches, and a pruning saw for larger cuts. It’s also a good idea to have a pair of gloves to protect your hands from the sharp thorns on some grape vines.

4. How do I prune young grape vines?

When pruning young grape vines, you should aim to create a strong framework of branches to support future growth. This can be done by selecting 2-4 strong shoots to train as the main branches, and removing all other shoots. You should also prune back these main branches to 2-3 buds each, to encourage lateral shoots to grow.

5. How do I prune mature grape vines?

When pruning mature grape vines, you should aim to remove any dead or diseased wood, as well as any shoots that are growing from the base of the plant. You should also prune back the previous year’s growth to 2-3 buds per shoot, and thin out any crowded or crossing branches.

6. Can I prune grape vines in the summer?

It’s generally not recommended to prune grape vines during the summer, as this can lead to excessive bleeding and the loss of nutrients. However, if you need to remove any diseased or damaged wood, it’s better to do so as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the vine.

7. How do I know if I’m pruning my grape vines correctly?

The best way to know if you’re pruning your grape vines correctly is to observe the growth and fruit production of your vines over time. If you notice healthy growth and good fruit production, then you’re doing a good job. If you notice poor growth or low fruit production, then you may need to adjust your pruning techniques.

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