Many varieties of grape plants are easy to propagate and right now is a good time to try some as hardwood cuttings. The easiest thing to do is just remove a long section of grape vine from the parent plant and cut that vine into multiple cuttings. I’ve worked with grape vines as long as 13 feet long.
Since grapes are vigorous growers the amount of space between the bud unions on the vine can range from 3 or 4 inches to as far apart as 10 inches. As you inspect the vine it’s easy to distinguish the bud unions, they are the bumps on the vine that almost look like a knuckle or a joint.
Each cutting that you make should contain at least 3 bud unions with one near the top, one in the middle, and one at the bottom. The cut you make at the bottom of the cutting is the most critical. You can use regular by-pass pruners to make your cuts, but when you make the cut at the bottom of the cutting you want to cut right below the bud union, but not into the bud union. Cut about 1/8″ below the bud union. At the top of the cutting just cut about an inch above the top bud union. Leaving that extra one inch at the top protects that top bud as you handle the cuttings.
After you finish your cuttings dig a narrow trench in your garden, push the cuttings into the trench with the top and the middle buds above ground and back fill with soil. When spring arrives water them consistently and they’ll root as the soil warms.
Dipping the cuttings in a rooting compound might help, but it’s really not necessary. If the ground is frozen in your garden don’t make your cuttings until you get a thaw.
Mike McGroarty is a Garden & Greenhouse contributing editor, the owner of McGroarty Enterprises and the author of several books. You can visit his website at Freeplants.com and read his blog at Mikesbackyardnursery.com.
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