Grapes (Vitis spp.) are long-lived vines that will quickly grow to grace an arbor or fence and give a rustic, Mediterranean quality to your landscape. As long as you live somewhere in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10, you can find grape varieties suitable for growing in your zone. They are among the easiest fruiting plants to grow, and you can propagate grapes from green softwood cuttings during the growing season. Children can help with this project, and take special pride in the grapes they harvest and enjoy later.
1 Select a vigorous, disease-free vine to propagate. Be sure it is a variety with good quality fruit.
2 Make cuttings from the vine 4 to 5 inches in length, and the diameter of a pencil.
3 Remove all the foliage except the topmost leaf from each cutting. Cut off a portion of the top leaf, so that only about 1.5 inches of leaf area remains on each cutting. This minimizes the loss of moisture through evaporation while the roots are forming.
4 Fill 1-gallon pots with perlite or vermiculite for use as a rooting medium, and moisten thoroughly with water.
5 Dip the bottom half of each cutting into the rooting hormone, then stick it into the rooting medium. Each gallon pot can accommodate three or four cuttings.
6 Cut a 2-liter plastic bottle in half; put the top half over the cuttings with the lid facing up. Push the bottle down about an inch into the rooting medium to hold warmth and moisture around the cuttings like a tiny greenhouse.
7 Place the cuttings in a window where they will receive bright, indirect light throughout the day. Morning sun is OK. Consistent warmth, both day and night, is critical to root formation -- a minimum temperature of 70 degrees is best.
8 Open the lid of the plastic bottle every few days to mist the leaves, using a spray bottle.
9 Transplant the cuttings to individual pots when you see that they have begun to grow new leaves. The new leaves are a sign that the cuttings have rooted sufficiently for transplant.
Items you will need
- Hand pruners
- 1-gallon plastic pot
- Perlite or vermiculite
- 2-liter plastic bottle
- Utility knife
- Rooting hormone
- Spray bottle
- Rubbing alcohol
- Take cuttings in the morning or evening to prevent the tender green vines from wilting immediately.
- If you can't place the cuttings in the rooting medium immediately, put them in a cup of water and refrigerate them to keep them fresh.
- Grapes can also be propagated from cuttings of dormant wood in late winter -- success rates are higher using this technique with some varieties.
- Some grape varieties are also grafted on to a separate rootstock and may not succeed form cuttings on their own roots. If the grapevine you're propagating from has a graft union, it is not a good candidate for this project. A graft union is usually in the first 12 inches above the soil line and is evident by a bulge in the trunk.
- Sterilize your hand pruners with rubbing alcohol before you take cuttings to guard against the possible introduction of disease organisms.
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