Tutorial on Pruning Grape Vines-for Beginners

Workers on duty of pruning grape vinesGrape vines can prove a hard task for beginners, but this is nothing to be afraid of. It happens and it will continue to happen even on experienced folks. So here we will not talk about how you can become a perfect grape vine pruning master by just reading this. Nope, things just don’t work like this, so let me be straight forward with you. This is only a basis and to be honest-a small one. Any further development is up to you. The best advice I can give you as a professional is: go out there and start doing it. Eventually you will become better and better. This is the only way and it works with everything in life. But let’s cut the preaching and get back to our little topic or…

Step 1. Starting off and First Time Pruning

The first time you see a new and young grape vine, it will probably not be pruned. You may spot the various bare shots rising to the top and the mess root system. Your first job is to severely reduce the shots to one and cut back to three buds. Yes, I know it sounds shocking, but you have to understand that it is a common thing to prune nearly 90% of this plant. After you plant it, you can rest assured that the vine will begin to grow. Once the new shots reach height of 10 to 12″, you can choose the best one and support it with a stake. When you picking the best shoot, consider a few things in mind. Make sure that your desired hero amongst the shoots is coming directly from the old stem. It has to be a strong one and not some weak shoot making its way from the root system.

My experience as a gardener from Wimbledon taught me that you have to put more efforts than usual for this particular stem. It will be your main trunk until your plant dies. Ensure that it grows as straight as possible by regulating the stake and protect the shoot from the wind. This treatment will pay you off later, you can be sure of it.

Step 2. Shaping your Final Plant

Instructions for grape vines wiringIt may seem harsh for the plant, but you can’t proceed to this step if your grape vine hasn’t reached about 30″ (the first trellis wire). If it doesn’t, make sure to cut it back to 3 buds as you did last year. In order to establish a strong trunk, you have to take these drastic measures. You should know that this is a rare situation, so your plant will most likely reach the desired destination. Sometimes the shoot will even go longer than expected, so you can cut it back to the wire. Make sure to tie the shoot to the stake and the wire, so you can secure its growing.


There are usually strong side laterals, which most likely go under the wire. Choose two of them that stay closer to the wire and tie them to it. You can safely prune them to 4-5 buds. With this your base plant is established and if everything went as planned, you can just maintain from now on. Aim for two things during the summer: remove any new shoots, which try to grow the lower trunk or root area, and guide the new shots to the next upper wire.

Step 3. Pruning and Maintenance for Every Season

Time to focus on the production. Know that grape bear fruit on the green shoots, which come from one-year-old canes. The main idea of pruning here is the renewal of canes for the next year based on the production of fruit from this year. Any old canes won’t give you fruits again, so you should choose on two general systems for pruning grape vines. The first one is kniffin, but the mostly used is called cane pruning and its more suitable for the UK’s climate zone.


Cane pruning (also associated with vine training)-when it comes to this widely used system, the first job of every gardener is to establish the trunk successfully and every year pick new canes from the head (the area where the trunk meets the wire). First of all you have to choose 2 canes from each side and tie them to the wire. Make sure to pick them at least 8 buds long, healthy and strong. All other canes can be cut out. However, if you want to have more choices next year, you can leave 1-2 spur canes reduced to two buds each.

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