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Having your own vine is not only a delight as a Mediterranean accent in the garden, but also on the plate. In order to be able to harvest plump table grapes, the care of the vines is important, since the health of Vitis vinifera determines quality, yield and taste. Pruning is essential for keeping the vines appropriate to the species. If grapevines are not pruned extensively, growth suffers considerably. The first two years are particularly important.


Why is pruning necessary?

Healthy vines are quite undemanding plants. Rain is enough for them as a water supply, they love hot, sunny locations and, thanks to their taproots, grow quickly and vigorously as long as the soil is not too dense. The most complex part of the entire vine care is the pruning. Proper pruning is top priority, because without the annual pruning measures, the plant will run wild and you can forget about tasty grapes. Proper pruning care is necessary, especially in the first two years after planting, in order to be able to harvest the first table grapes from the third season. Each form of training requires a different cut, including the vines on the vine.

Vine with grapes

Notice: Vine training involves the use of a classic post with a height of 1.5 to two meters, which a single vine uses as a climbing aid. These are suitable for a solitary position in the garden, but work just as well in large groups.

The first year

In the first year, when pruning, it is important to align the vines appropriately and thus give them a suitable direction of growth. It is important to select the strongest shoots, which ultimately form the trunk of the vine and ensure the plant grows vigorously. There are three different pruning measures in the months after planting.

  • Breaking out
  • summer cut
  • cut in winter

The first few weeks after the vine has been planted are used to drive out the still young plant or cuttings and you should not do anything during this time. Only when the plant is about to be tied up at the end of May to the beginning of June does the first of the three pruning measures come into play. Pruning doesn't need great guidance as this isn't really a pruning but is essential for growth. During this time, the vines should form one long main shoot, which is the base of the trunk. You must treat this as follows.

  • look at the still small grapevine
  • a main shoot should have formed, sprouting directly from the graft site
  • choose the strongest drive
  • further shoots from the ground are simply broken off, as well as other shoots from the main shoot
  • for purchased container plants whose shoots are already lignified, the bottom shoot is used as the main shoot
  • remove all other shoots completely
  • Cut off the top part of the stem using clean, sharp scissors
  • Stingy shoots on the leaf axils are not removed
  • remove already existing grapes

Stingy shoots are not broken off as they can grow too close to the leaf axils. This is where one of the main buds of the vine develops, which would sprout too early or be damaged if the stinging shoot were removed. You can then tie the shoot to a plant stake and let it grow until late summer.

Vines set Mediterranean accents

summer cut

Summer pruning in the 1st year: a guide

After the grapevine shoot has been able to grow extensively over the summer, the plant reaches heights of between two and four meters, the cut is due in summer. The best time for this is late summer, at the end of August. During this period, Vitis vinifera was able to form a sufficient network of roots, which is essential for the winter. The shoot also lignifies, which can be seen from the color, which should be as follows, depending on the grape variety.

  • brown-red
  • golden brown
  • grey-brown

Then it's time you really prune the vines for the first time to maintain vine health over the cold season.

Proceed as follows:

  • choose clean, sharp pruning shears to avoid bruising or tearing while cutting
  • measure the vine - it is usually up to four meters high
  • since a shorter vine is recommended when growing on the vine, you should then cut it back to a height of 1.5 meters - it is best to mark the spot so as not to cut off too much
  • use the pruning shears at an angle when cutting to avoid the typical bleeding of the vines
  • then you can dispose of the cut part of the vine on the compost

With the summer pruning you reduce the growth of the vine, but it can continue to grow vigorously and even sprout a little before the winter days. If you use an extremely high plant stake of more than two meters, this cut is not necessary, but in this form it no longer really corresponds to a vine.

fall pruning

Autumn pruning in the 1st year

First year winter pruning is only necessary if your vines are having trouble growing. You can tell when the shoot tips are compressed and not hanging. As strange as it may sound, the plant is only doing well when the shoot tips of the vines are drooping. Compressed shoot tips protrude upwards and indicate a problem that absolutely needs to be fixed.

The reasons for this can be:

  • too dark, cool or stuffy location
  • Root pressure due to proximity to other plants
  • Location too dry or too humid

If the location is the reason for the stagnation of growth, you must transplant the vine before the first frost in autumn so that the plant can recover. Consider transplanting other plants that can put root pressure on the vines. This is the only way to protect the plant from dying or from stunted growth. However, if the main shoot is weak and does not recover, it must be cut back. Use the thickness of the shoot as a guide. If this is not as thick as a classic pencil and is still quite short, you have to cut it back. The best time to do this is at the end of September.

Grape vines in the garden

The cut as follows:

  • choose clean, sharp scissors for the cut so as not to injure the plant
  • is cut back to the last two eyes - that is, 90 percent of the previous growth is lost
  • cut at an angle above the eye
  • then dispose of the plant remains and prepare the winter protection for the plant

Notice: If you must do this fall pruning, the vine will recover over the winter and sprout again in the spring. In doing so, she repeats the entire process from the beginning and this means for you that a possible harvest of the table grapes is postponed by one year.

The second year

In the 2nd year, prune the vines so that you can prepare more and more for the formation of fruit. They increase considerably in plant material and can effectively form the first consumable grapes in the 3rd year. The vines are raised on the vine this year and accordingly there are three cuts that you have to make.

  • winter pruning
  • spring cut
  • summer cut

winter pruning

Winter pruning in the 2nd year: a guide

The winter pruning in the 2nd year is still carried out during the deep winter in mid-February. It serves to protect the vines from the first frost in spring and to stimulate the growth of new shoots and leaves.

The guide as follows:

  • Again, choose a pair of clean pruning shears that are strong enough to cut woody shoots
  • Your vines should be about 1.5 to 2 meters tall - measure about 60 centimeters up from the grafting point
  • mark the place with a ribbon or thread - now count five eyes up, this is the necessary interface
  • place the scissors at an angle a few millimeters above the eye and cut off the upper part
  • then you can let the vine rest over the winter
  • do not cut deeper or it may bleed out.
only cut with a sharp tool

Tip: You should avoid this pruning if you have chosen a grape variety that is sensitive to temperatures below -5°C. Choose one of the many frost and fungus resistant varieties, then nothing can go wrong.

spring cut

Spring cut in the 2nd year

Spring pruning, on the other hand, serves to train the vine so that it acquires the classic shape that is so characteristic of the vines. The Mediterranean character only comes to the fore here. The best time for pruning is late April to early May and is crucial for the continued growth of the plant.

Proceed as follows:

  • prepare disinfected sharp pruning shears so that when cutting the shoots you do not injure the vines;
  • use a piece of string or a pen to mark out the six to eight strongest shoots, which should ideally grow in close proximity to the trunk
  • these form the crown the following year, through which the vines can slowly begin to bear fruit
  • make sure that these shoots are on the upper part of the plant
  • now remove any other shoots that are on the vine - these are usually thinner and easy to cut
  • also break off any buds you can find, but not near the main shoots
  • When cutting, make sure not to put the scissors directly on the stem and cut at an angle - this is the only way to prevent excessive bleeding, since the edges of the wounds at the cutting points take longer to heal in the warmer spring months
  • now tie the remaining shoots to the post - this makes growth easier, as they do not overhang due to the support and can direct all their strength to growth
  • alternatively, you can cut off the tip of the main shoot, depending on how long it is
  • now remove the cut plant material so that no pests or fungi can nest at the site

After pruning in spring, the shape of a classic vine becomes more and more noticeable and enchants despite its small size. The upbringing also ensures that the vines no longer sprout so much in height, which also maintains the shape.

Grapevine on a house wall

summer cut

Cut in the summer in the 2nd year

The cut for the summer in the 2nd year is carried out around August and is primarily used to further train the plant. Don't overdo it with this pruning, you should never remove too much plant matter. Cut wisely and you'll be amazed for years to come.

The instructions in detail:

  • use your clean, sharp scissors again
  • the shoots continue to lignify, so from the summer of the 2nd year a working secateurs is mandatory
  • remove all weak side shoots, sickly or dead plant parts and above all those that are growing transversely - these are cut off close to the trunk so that they cannot come back so quickly
  • alternatively, you should regularly remove diseased and dead plant parts during the main growing season of the year
  • now the important six to eight shoots are shortened in length to about one to one and a half meters if they have grown fast enough
  • take extra care not to cut into the stem as the shoots are tied

Notice: A winter cut in the 2nd year is not necessary. Only adequate winter protection is required here.

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