Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FAQ: How do I prune muscadine vines?

I just purchased a home in Louisiana. There are two muscadine vines that appear to not have been pruned for some time. I definitely want to keep them but I'm not sure what to do at this point. Is it too late to prune?  I'm not even sure how to properly prune them. The two trunks are growing toward each other instead of the T shape that I've normally seen. Please advise.

The month of June is a little late to prune. You might remove too much and the plant be weakened. Besides, it would be easier to see what you're doing without leaves on the vines.

Since you know that the T-shape is ideal, you know what to work towards. I once heard an anecdote about advice given by a sculptor to his student. The student was unsure how to carve a fish from a block of stone. The sculptor told him to remove everything that didn't look like the fish.

Pruning the grape vine is kind of like that. Identify the main trunk and remove the others. Choose two long vines for arms (one to grow in each direction). They should be well-placed near the top of the trunk, and hopefully will be long enough and stout. Mark them, remove all others. Identify well-placed vines (spurs) that grow from the horizontal arms. Remove all others. Prune the remaining spurs to the length of 3 or 4 buds.

I've made many mistakes pruning grape vines. Thankfully, the vines are rather forgiving. You always get another chance, even if it comes next year.

Here are some links to videos I produced on pruning muscadines.

Video #1
Video #2
Video #3

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