9 Ideas For Rising Grapes in Raised Beds

One of the major joys of gardening is being able to grow your own food. Imagine walking out to your garden to harvest fresh grapes right off the vine! You may be surprised to learn that no matter where you live, you can probably grow your own grapes. Grapevines are high-maintenance garden plants and take a bit of work to maintain, but then again, there are plenty of benefits to reward your efforts.

Grapes are long-lived, hardy, perennial vines. They are both useful and ornamental. They add interesting structure and texture to your garden, and of course, one of the best rewards is eating delicious and nutritious fruits. Grapes are commonly available, and there are so many varieties that it may be difficult to choose just one or two to start with.

In many cases, grapes grow perfectly well in the ground. However, there may be some cases where it makes sense to grow them in a raised bed or container garden. Installing a raised bed is an excellent opportunity to create a healthy garden with maximum flexibility.

If you’re getting ready to try your luck with grapes, keep reading for some helpful tips about growing healthy and productive grapevines in raised beds.

Choose a Variety

Cultivars might offer greater rewards in your garden.

There are a great number of different species and cultivars. You’ll want to choose a variety that most interests you. Pay attention to the look and taste of the grapes themselves, as well as the size of the vines.

Wild grapes encompass several species native to the eastern United States. These vines are large, growing up to 50 feet or more, hardy, and typically have separate male and female plants. While you could grow a wild grapevine in your garden, you might enjoy greater rewards with a cultivar.

Below are just a few examples of some of the different grape varieties. As you begin to look at the available cultivars to grow in a raised bed, choose one that’s hardy in your climate, has a fruit color and flavor that you find appealing, and has relatively compact vines that will be easier to manage in a smaller space.

‘Reliance’This is a seedless variety that produces medium-sized, sweet, red grapes. The vines are hardy and productive with fruits ripening in early fall.
‘Himrod’These vigorous vines are very hardy. The white, seedless, super-sweet grapes ripen in late summer.
‘Canadice’These early-season grapes are small, red, and very tasty. Fruits ripen in late summer.
‘Pixie’‘Pixie’ grapes are extremely compact vines that produce tiny fruits on two or three-foot tall plants. The sweet, round fruits ripen to dark purple.
MuscadineThere are many highly varied muscadine grape cultivars for home gardeners. These thick, hardy vines tend to produce large, round fruits.

If you are growing grapes in a raised bed, chances are that you are working with limited space. If you don’t have room to grow several different varieties, choose one variety that is self-fertile. It would be a bummer to grow a single grapevine and then find out that it won’t set fruits. Most commercially-available cultivars are self-fertile, but check the tag to verify.

Use a Sturdy Raised Bed

A close-up of a sturdy wooden raised garden bed, filled with rich brown soil and a shovel resting inside; neighboring raised beds line the side.Raised beds enhance grape productivity and root space.

Choosing the right raised bed for your projects is one of the most important decisions you’ll make about growing grapes.  This will be your plant’s home, and since grapes are long-lived vines, you’ll want your raised bed to be long-lasting and sturdy. You have many options when it comes to choosing a raised bed. You can buy one ready-made, or you can build your own.

Raised beds offer the flexibility of creating an ideal garden plot anywhere, over any pre-existing soil type. Use a sturdy, well-made raised bed to contain your grapes. Raised beds made of metal or wood are both perfectly suitable as long as they are durable. While there are no limits to the size the raised bed needs to be, just remember that the larger the raised bed, the more space the grape roots will have to grow and the more productive your vines will ultimately be.

You probably won’t want to try growing other plants in the same raised bed as your grapes because you want to reduce competition and increase air circulation around the grape plants. And since grapes are vigorous vines with spreading root systems, you won’t want to be unnecessarily digging around in the grape roots.

Install a Sturdy Trellis

A large wooden A-Frame trellis stands atop a soil-filled raised garden bed, surrounded by other raised beds; in the background, lush garden plants thrive, with distant houses completing the scenic backdrop.Ensure your trellis has enough space and strength.

Grapes are thick, climbing, and twining vines and need a sturdy trellis to perform their best. No matter where you are growing grapevines, they will benefit from having a trellis, arbor, or fence to grow along. It doesn’t matter which type of support you choose, but you should install the support when you plant your vines to minimize future disturbance to your plants. 

When using a trellis in a raised bed, you can install the vertical trellis posts within the bed, or externally, as long as the horizontal supports pass over the vines. Your trellis should have enough space and strength to support your vines for multiple seasons. A common grape trellis design is two (or more) vertical wood poles well anchored in the ground with sturdy horizontal wire stretched between them.

When you initially plant your grapevine, you may need to tie the main stem to a temporary stake to train it up to the horizontal supports. As your vine develops horizontal branches, train one healthy branch to grow along each horizontal support and prune the rest. Training your vines to grow along their support will help keep them strongly growing in the right direction and help prevent them from sprawling and falling over.

Prune Properly

A close-up of a man using pruning shears to cut branches of grapes, revealing vibrant green grapevine leaves intertwined with thin, twisting branches.Pruning is vital for healthy grape production.

Before you start pruning, you’ll need a few simple tools. Hand tools such as sharp pruners will allow you to easily prune the smaller branches, and larger loppers will help you prune any thicker branches you need to prune. You may also appreciate wearing comfortable gloves to protect your hands while pruning. 

Pruning is essential to growing healthy grapes. Grapevines are naturally long, twining vines, but when growing them for grape production, well-pruned vines will be both easier to manage and also more productive than free-form vines. Proper pruning is especially important when growing grapevines in a smaller space, such as in a raised bed. 

Use the Right Soil

A close-up of a wooden garden box filled with dark rich soil, prepared by the gardener.Grapes prefer slightly acidic, well-drained soil with nutrients.

One of the greatest benefits of raised bed gardening is that you can create the ideal soil for your plants. Grapes require rich, moist, well-drained soil to perform well. They can’t have constantly wet soil or they will soon rot, but raised beds make it very easy to provide well-drained soil.

You can use pre-mixed soil formulated for raised beds, or create your own soil blend by mixing topsoil and organic composted materials, as well as a percentage of materials to improve drainage and materials to help retain moisture.  

Grapes aren’t terribly picky about their soil, as they will grow naturally in many types of soil. Ideally, your grapevines will thrive in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. It should definitely be fairly loose and well-drained, so be sure the water drains through the soil efficiently, not backing up and staying waterlogged. Finally, grapes like nutrients. Loamy, organically rich soil will provide plenty of nutrients to get your plants off to a healthy start.


A close-up of a gloved hand gently holding composted food waste mixed with earthworms.Apply fertilizer according to package instructions.

Grapevines are vigorous plants that use a lot of energy. When young, they will grow very rapidly. For the first two or three years after planting, give your grapes some organic fertilizer once or twice each year, in late winter and again in late spring. One developed to feed fruit trees and berry bushes is perfect. Apply compost around the base of the vines each spring for an extra nutrient boost. 

If you notice your grapes are turning yellow and the leaves are dropping prematurely, they may be lacking magnesium. This is a sign that you need to add some fertilizer. Any time you are using commercial fertilizer products, be sure to carefully follow the labels on the packaging. Each product is different and will require different application rates. 

Water Properly

A close-up of a small wooden garden box filled with vibrant green seedlings being delicately watered by a watering can.Watering grapes requires attention to technique.

Grapevines need to be watered regularly when they are young, but older plants may only need supplemental watering during very dry conditions. For the first couple of years, give your vines about one inch of water per week. If you are growing your plants in pots, smaller beds, or extremely well-drained soil, you may need to water more often. The frequency of watering will depend on rainfall, temperature, the size of your raised bed, and how well your soil holds moisture.

When watering grapes, the watering technique matters. Don’t spray the leaves with water. Wet leaves easily lead to fungal diseases. Rather, aim the water to the soil around the base of the plant and allow the water to slowly saturate the root zone. You can use a drip irrigation system or gently water by hand to gradually moisten the soil and allow the water to soak in. Grapes generally appreciate moist soil, so check to see that the water has moistened the root zone, not just the soil surface.

Manage Pests and Diseases

 A cluster of ripe grapes with a deep purple hue, nestled among green yellowish leaves; however, the plant is suffering from powdery mildew, visible as a white, dusty coating on both the grapes and leaves.Maintain well-pruned and spaced vines for better air circulation.

Unfortunately, grapevines are prone to many pests and diseases. You can minimize the disease risk by buying grapevine varieties with high disease resistance. Look for vines labeled as disease-resistant. This won’t ensure that your vines are disease-free, but it can help lower the risk.

Grapevines are prone to many fungal diseases, downy mildew being one of the most common issues. This often appears as a powdery gray or white growth on the leaves, especially on plants growing in warm, humid climates. Keep your vines well-pruned and well-spaced to increase air circulation, and don’t spray water unnecessarily on the leaves.

Numerous insect pests attack grapevines, including the grape berry moth, grape phylloxera, root worms, root borers, and flea beetles, to name a few. Insect pests are highly varied from one location to another. If you are struggling with insect pests, try contacting your regional Agricultural Extension office to get advice on proper identification and management strategies.

You will also find that, if growing grapes or any other delicious fruit, you’ll be sharing your crops with the local birds and other wildlife. Since you are growing grapes in a limited space, you may feel quite protective of the fruits. If the birds are getting too many of your fruits, try stapling small paper lunch bags around your maturing fruits. As long as the grape clusters are full size, the fruits will continue to ripen, even in the bags, and this will strongly discourage the birds from pecking at the fruits.

Choose the Right Location

Metal beds installed in the garden, positioned on a grassy ground in a sunlit area.Ensure level ground and easy access to beds.

Location, location, location! Any plant grown in its ideal location will be happier than a plant trying to grow in sub-par conditions. Grapevines love full sun, so place your raised bed in a location with at least seven or eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Grapes will grow in more shaded locations but won’t produce nearly as many fruits as those grown in full sun. 

Since you’re growing grapes in a raised bed, the soil quality of your location isn’t too important. Raised bed gardening allows you to create an ideal soil for whatever you are trying to grow. You will, however, need to have level ground and easy access to your raised beds

Place your raised beds in an area with adequate air circulation rather than in an enclosed area densely surrounded by other vegetation or structures. Good air circulation will help prevent common fungal diseases like mold and powdery mildew. Make sure you can easily walk around your bed to help you with weeding, maintenance tasks, and harvesting.

Final Thoughts

Establishing a raised bed and growing grapes both require a bit of effort yet offer plenty of rewards. When you grow grapes, you can, of course, look forward to eating them fresh off the vine! Raised bed gardens allow you to create ideal growing conditions to match the needs of your desired plants. For your grapes, you’ll just need a sunny location and a bed full of rich, moist, well-drained soil. Give your vines solid climbing support, keep them healthy, and you’ll soon enjoy a fresh feast of tasty, juicy, locally-grown fruit.

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