How to prune grape vines: Effective tips for a successful growth

3 min

Although many plants don’t require pruning, this is not the case for grape vines. As a matter of fact, pruning grape vines is essential for their growth and productivity. Most gardeners fail to grow grape vines because they don’t prune their plants frequently enough. Grape vines require pruning on a regular basis. This article will show you when and how to prune grape vines properly.

Grape vines should be pruned for the first three years during their dormancy which usually takes place in winter. In order to ensure that your plants produce good quality fruits, you should prune them hard rather than lightly. Hard pruning will encourage your grape vines to produce better quality fruits.

Furthermore, pruning grape vines allows your plants to develop a better shape and structure. It also allows your plants to have a better access to sunlight which will help them grow better and produce more. In brief, pruning makes the difference between productive grape vines and bad grape vines. Follow the below pruning steps and you will have highly productive grape vines.

1. The first year

grape vine first year pruning

When you buy your grape vines from your local nursery store, you will probably buy them pruned with two or three buds. In the first year, usually, several shoots will start growing leading the vine to become bushy. It is recommended that you prune these shoots to one or two shoots.  Although letting them grow will provide you with better options to choose from in the next pruning, it is better to cut them off because they may hinder the growth of your vines.

After the leaves have fallen, choose one or two of the shoots (also called canes) that you have kept to establish the main trunk of your vine.

2. Second year

grape vine second year pruning

Now that you have selected two canes and cut off all the other in the first growing year, you should remove all the side canes in this year. Side canes are very dangerous, they could stop the growth of your vines. They usually emerge from the node area of the canes you left from the first year.

Side canes emerge when shoot tips are incapable of adjusting to the new growth because of the excessive sap produced by the roots. Thus your vines’ growth becomes unbalanced. This is a serious issue you should address. In order to restore the growth balance of your plants, you will need to keep the correct amount of leaves that would contribute to the ripening of the grapes.

You should always keep in mind that more leaves mean fewer grapes. Therefore, as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, prune your grape vines hard in order to thicken the canes.  You can keep strong canes, but, you should remove all the week canes.

3. Third year


grape vine third year pruning

While your grapevine is still dormant, choose the strongest two canes to keep and trim away the rest. Prune the canes you have chosen to keep to a length of 12-18 inches. Check your plant for woods and if you ever find any, remove them immediately. This will make your vine tougher.

You should always cut off canes that grow at the bottom of the trunk. They will grow to reach the ground and they may catch diseases and infect your plant. After pruning in the third year, you can allow more shoots to grow. 8 to 10 shoots is the adequate number of shoots you should allow them to grow. They may bear fruit in the next year.

These pruning techniques are ideal to use to any grapevine variety. In order not to hurt your plant, you should use hand pruners to prune it unless you are about removing weeds then you should use either loppers or handsaws.

If you are interested in vine plants, check out this selection of the most amazing indoor vine plants.


Enjoy pruning your grape vines.


Like it? Share with your friends!