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how to grow a dessert grape vine

I have really heavy clay soil and have been unsuccessful in growing anything that needs free draining soil despite my best efforts to lighten it. How successful would I be growing a grape vine in a large pot to grow over a pergola, please or is there a special way of growing it in soil? Also, is now (March) a good time to plant? Many thanks.


  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,589
    A large pot would be fine, use a loam based John Innes type compost. Vines should still be reasonably dormant at the moment so planting out now should be OK. Which variety are you planting?
  • Many thanks. Do you have any suggestions re the variety, please? I live just south of Cambridge. If it goes in a pot, will this restrict the growth a lot?
  • Hello daisymaria I am in Stockport and I have been growing my grape vines 2 off (took cuttings so hopefully have 10)and I am growing in the ground and I have heavy clay and they are good 3 years old first time last year they had fruit on, you could also like I am going to do with some of my cuttings grow them in pots as standards. 
  • Many thanks. I would like to train it over a rustic pergola. May I ask you what you did to lighten your heavy clay soil so you could grow a vine? Mine is like concrete in the summer!
  • my parents garden is on the site of a former brick clay mine, so you can imagine the natural soil conditions,
    they/we added lots of grit/sharp sand and organic matter, about 30% clay to 30% grit/sharp sand and 40% organic matter (my dad even bought some earthworms, as the soil was so sticky there wasn't any!) and kept digging it over,
    its taken them about 5 years, but the soil is wonderful now. best time to dig over is before some serious frosts as it breaks the clumps down nicely so that the grit/sand/organic matter gets well mixed in.
  • Many thank for this!
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,396
    Plenty of info on growing grapes on the RHS website, both in the ground and in pot.  If possible, ground is better because grapes don't do well if allowed to get thirsty. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,589
    Bob Flowerdew is based in East Anglia so has a similar climate to you and routinely recommends Boskoop Glory and Siegerrebe for eating varieties.  I grow mainly wine varieties but also have Black Hamburgh (I think!) which I found in the greenhouse when we bought our house. I have cuttings of this growing up the south wall of the house but the greenhouse vine produces much better grapes.
  • Many thanks to you all. I reckon I can make a start now!
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