Aside from enhancing your landscape with vertical greenery and shaded retreats, grapevines provide an abundance of fresh fruit with the potential for homemade jam, juice and sun-dried raisins for the kids and wine for you. Grape enthusiasts turn to seedless grape varieties because they self-pollinate, are relatively problem-free and grow just about anywhere with full sun and structural support. The only hard part is deciding which varieties to grow.
1. Grape Primer
Like the majority of wine and table grapes, seedless grapes are either varieties of European grapes (Vitis vinifera) or hybrids of a European species and an American species (Vitis labrusca). As such, they are often identified by patent number rather than botanical name. Seedless varieties will grow in nearly any climate and in any type of soil, but a sandy loam with pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal and good drainage is a must. The warmer the climate, the earlier and longer fruit production will be. Although support from a trellis or arbor and sufficient air ventilation is needed, ensure your vines are protected from wind. Planting vines on a southern slope or south side of a building will afford the most sunlight and warmth.
2. Red Varieties
"Reliance" (Vitis "Reliance"), also known by plant patent number 5174, produces medium-sized red grapes with a sweet flavor reminiscent of labrusca wine grapes. Hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8, “Reliance” is a particularly suitable choice for homemade juice, jam and raisins. "Einset Seedless" (PP 6160) also thrives in USDA zones 5 through 8 and produces bright red grapes with a strawberry-like flavor. Although this is a seedless variety, the grapes sometimes have traces of seeds.
3. White Varieties
“Himrod” (Vitis “Himrod”) is a white seedless grape preferred as table fruit and to dry for raisins. This variety, which is hardy to USDA zones 5 through 8, produces berries with a honey flavor. “Marquis” (Vitis “Marquis”) is a large, mid-season white-to-green variety suitable for the same zones that is grown as a table grape and to produce wine.
4. Blue Varieties
"Jupiter" (PP 13,309) produces medium-sized fruits with a floral aroma and taste characteristic of muscat grapes, while “Mars” (PP 5680) offers medium-sized, cylindrical-shaped blue grapes with a meaty pulp and a slight labrusca flavor. “Venus” (Vitis “Venus”) produces large, blue-black grapes with labrusca flavor suitable for wine and jam, although the fruit sometimes contains seed traces. All of these seedless varieties are hardy to USDA zones 5 through 8.
- Mother Earth News: Sensational Seedless Grapes
- University of Massachusetts Extension: Grapes: Seedless Table Varieties
- Cornell University: European (Vitis Vinifera) Wine Grape Varieties
- University of California: Growing Grapes in Your Backyard
- Cornell University: Seedless Grapes
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Vitis "Reliance"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Vitis “Himrod”
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Vitis “Marquis”
- Burpee: Grape, Einset Seedless PP6160
- Burpee: Grape, Jupiter PP13,309
- Alexandra Grablewski/Lifesize/Getty Images