Let’s grow grapes in containers

With a little planning, you can grow grapes in a container on a sunny patio or balcony.

Grapes on the vine. Photo credit: Pixabay.
Purple grapes on the vine.

Growing grapes may seem like an undertaking only for a trained viticulturist in vineyard. But it is possible to, with a little planning, grow grapes in a container on a sunny patio or balcony.

You can grow almost any variety of grapes in a container. The hardest part of growing grapes is to know when and how they need to be pruned. Pixie grapes are naturally dwarfing and thus ideal for containers, as they only grow 18-24 inches tall and wide and will not need much, if any, pruning.


  • Grape vine with roots, crown and shoots.
  • Large container, at least 15-20 gallons, with drainage holes in the bottom.
    • The pot should measure at least 16-18 inches deep and 18-24 inches wide.
    • Avoid pots that are dark colored, they absorb and hold too much sunlight and heat. Wood is an optimal container.
  • Four-foot stake or other supporting system.
  • A fertile and well-drained type of soil.
    • Be sure to use a light potting mix (do not use soil from your garden).
    • Add compost to your pot to increase nutrients each year.
  • Pruning shears.
  • Ties; these can be zip ties, Velcro or other suitable garden ties. Do not tie tightly.
  • Mulch.

Planting steps:

  1. Put some small stones in the bottom of the pot until the bottom is fully covered. You may need to put a small piece of screen over the hole in the bottom of the pot to keep the stones from falling through the drainage hole.
  2. Add potting soil to the container until it is about half-full.
  3. Take the grape plant and fan out the roots. You want the roots spread out, so that when the plant grows, the roots don’t tangle around each other and girdle the plant.
  4. While holding the grapevine, add soil to the pot until the plant is supported by the soil. The plant should not be buried past its original planting depth.
  5. Water the pot completely until you see water running out of the bottom of the pot. You may need to add more soil.
  6. Mulch the grapevine. This will make it more attractive for your patio and help keep the soil from drying out. Be sure the mulch is evenly distributed and only 2-3 inches deep.

During the first growing season for your new grapevine, you want to make sure it develops a healthy root system. The following steps below will help ensure that happens.

  • After planting the grapevine, select the strongest cane, or two canes if you want a double-trunked vine. Prune off the rest of the canes. It might sound counterintuitive to cut back a new plant, but it allows the plant to focus its energy on building a few solid vines.
  • Next, cut the cane(s) back, leaving only two or three buds. These buds will produce the shoots for your new potted grapevine.
  • Tie the grapevine to the stake or support system.
  • Be sure to water the vine thoroughly at least once per week.

Steps for long-term care:

  • Most grape varieties are self-fertile and produce fruits on their own. However, shaking the plant gently at the time of flowering results in a better yield.
  • Do not prune during the first year of growth. In the second and third year, remove old wood from the bottom of the plant. The best time to prune grapes is in the late winter to early spring, leaving only two buds during dormancy.Refer to Pruning Grapes videos from Michigan State University Extension.
  • Mulch the grapevine with pine bark, compost or with pebbles (this way, it will look great too) to prevent excessive water evaporation from the soil and to protect roots from temperature fluctuations.
  • In climates with harsh winters, you need to protect the plant. An unheated garage works well.
  • Diseases and pests. Fungal diseases like black spots and powdery mildew, especially in dry and warm weather, are possible. In pests, keep an eye on common garden insects like aphids. Japanese beetles, moths and caterpillars can also be a problem.

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