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Grapevines in Pots

It is possible to grow grapevines in pots, however vines thrive better when grown in the ground. This section describes three training techniques for pot cultivation, depending on purpose and container size. Please make use of additional information under Plants in Pots.

Miniature Grapevine

The smallest grapevine variety for perennial pot cultivation, for pots < 10 litres.

Compact Grapevine

A compact, small, perennial variety, which can be trained in various cordon systems, for pots >20 litres.

Ornamental Grapevine

(literally translated "Magnificent Grapevine") This is rather an ornamental variety of vine for florists and mostly an annual plant. Bears large crop of fruit in the 2nd year, perennial thereafter with reservations, for pots > 10 litres, requires heavy fertilising after flowering.

Winter Protection

Overwintering is possible in a cellar or similar storage room (or an unheated shed), as long as the pot is kept moist and the temperature remains well and truly below the critical 12ºC limit. Otherwise, bud burst will occur prematurely and the plant may die. In modern cellars, the temperature is usually not low enough, unless the cellar is unheated and permanently aerated. 

If the vine is overwintered in a glasshouse or similar, it must be transferred outdoors early (around end of February). It is imperative to prevent premature bud burst under the glass with subsequent transfer into the open. Plants which have already burst bud must only be transferred to the open from April / May, because the young shoots are very susceptible to frost.

Potted Vines on balcony or terrace
Potted vines
Lush ornamental grapevine ("Magnificent" Grapevine), historic illustration
Vine in pots
Miniature Vine, almost a Bonsai
Grapevine in a pot
Compact Grapevine (left) and Miniature Grapevine (right), historic illustration. The scale of the two vines has been adjusted to fit into this image, the compact grape would require a much larger pot and has much lusher foliage.
Pot with grapevine
Training of a Compact Grapevine on a garage with Wire Rope System 2040.
Vine in a pot

Miniature Grapevine - Training

Diagram 01: Detailed description for training during the first year can be found under Training. For the second year, during winter, the vine is cut back to a spur.
Grapevine in a flowerpot
Diagram 02: Two shoots arise from the two buds of the spur, which ideally produce 1 - 2 grape bunches. For Summer Pruning, both shoots are trimmed back to approx. 6 leaves beyond the last grape. Retain max. 1 grape bunch on the lower shoot.
Diagram 03: The upper part of the stem is treated as a side shoot position and is Spur Pruned now and all following years.

Compact Grapevine - Training

Diagram 04: Detailed description for training during the first year can be found under Training. For the second year, the vine is cut back to "3 upper eyes" in winter. Depending on the desired growth form and stem length, a few eyes on the stem are removed.
Diagram 05: In the second year, 3 shoots arise from the 3 buds, which ideally produce 1 - 2 grape bunches each. For Summer Pruning, the shoots are trimmed back to approx. 6 leaves beyond the last grape. If vine growth is rather weak, retain max. 1 grape per shoot.
Diagram 06: Depending on the local situation, the vine is then trained either into a small Vertical Cordon ("Schnurbaum"), Fan Form or Horizontal Cordon usually by Spur Pruning. However, even if the container capacity is 50 litres, the vine should not have more than 5 - 6 side shoot positions, 10 - 12 new shoots and 20 - 30 grape bunches per year.

Ornamental Grapevine ("Magnificent" Grapevine) - Training

Diagram 07: Initial training as described for 1st Year. For the second year, the vine is Cane Pruned to 6 - 10 eyes, depending on container size.
Diagram 08: The fruiting cane is carefully bent into a circle ("Circular Cane") and tied like a horizontal ring onto a trellis made of eg bamboo sticks. In the 2. year, shoots arise from the 6 - 8 buds, which ideally produce 1 - 2 grapes each. Infertile shoots (ie shoots without flower buds) are removed, and after flowering the plant is fertilised thoroughly. For Summer Pruning, the shoots are trimmed back to approx. 4 - 6 leaves beyond the last grape bunch.
Diagram 09: After the harvest, this type of grapevine has virtually reached its end, and, in bygone times, was disposed of. However, it is possible to trim the plant back to its initial form (Diagram 07) and subsequently transfer it to the open ground elsewhere. Replanted into a container with renewed soil and given a year to recover, the plant may be used as ornamental grapevine again.