How to properly espalier and prune vines

vines on an espalier
vines on an espalier

A vine looks good in any garden, even if the climate is not ideal. If you prune the climbing shrubs correctly, you can still get a good harvest.

Grapevines are becoming increasingly popular as garden plants, because now there are also table grapes that provide good yields outside the wine-growing regions in warm, sheltered locations. However, many amateur gardeners do not know how to properly prune the berry bushes.

How to cut grapevines?

Unlike most other berry bushes, grape vines bear their flowers and fruit exclusively on the new shoots. In viticulture, the plants are grown on wire trellises and pruned back vigorously in winter. Only one or two of the strongest shoots of the previous year are left on the wire and attached to the wire in the form of an arch. The new fruiting shoots will emerge from the dormant eyes over the course of the season. Although the heavy pruning reduces the yield, it increases the quality of the grapes: they are particularly large because the bush has to feed only a few of them. In addition, during the summer, part of the fruit set is still cut out to further increase the size and sugar content of the remaining grapes.

Growing vines on a espaliers

In principle, there is nothing to be said against pruning the table vines in the hobby garden in exactly the same way as in professional viticulture, but here, of course, visual criteria also play a role, for example, because the vines are to green part of the house facade or the free-standing espaliers. Therefore, depending on the espalier or climbing scaffold, one to three long leading shoots are pulled horizontally along the climbing aid to the right and left of the vine.

How to do winter pruning for vines?

Every year in the fall or late winter, cut back the shoots that have carried fruits away to one or two eyes. New shoots will form from the eyes in the spring. You can either leave two or prune out the weaker one in the spring while it is still unwoody. Other new shoots often develop on the branch ring, but they must always be removed. They would otherwise deprive the fruit shoots of water and nutrients.

Shorten fruiting shoots in the summer

The new fruiting branches, are passed vertically up the espalier during the summer. They are gradually attached to the wires or vertical wooden struts with a non-incising binding material. It is important that these shoots get enough light. Therefore, remove everything that shades the grapes, both the redundant shoots and disturbing leaves. You should cut off the tips of the long new fruit shoots in June about behind the fifth leaf above the last bunch of grapes. Otherwise they will become very long and then also cast unnecessary shade on the grapes.

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