Grafting Grape Vines (Picture Warning for slow internet)

Trumbull, CT(Zone 7a)

I am new to gardening and in fact this started when I decided to clean up the invasive plants in our yard, wild grapes, Virginia Creeper, and Oriental Bittersweet. I cleared out our neglected side bed that had 4 small trees originally planted in a row as a barrier, it had become overgrown with all of the invasive plants mentioned and much more. The trees are nearly all dead. I think I have the wild grapes identified here as Vitis riparia and they are clearly not good for eating. Details here:

Thinking that all these vines grow so well, and that the wild grape vine is probably 25 years old with an extensive root system, I had the idea to graft some of the seedless type table grape scions onto the remaining trunks. I bought a Himrod vine last summer and Ernie says they're some of the best he's had and was kind enough to send me some cuttings:

I also like red table grapes very much and did some research coming up with Reliance, and Canadice which I found locally at HD, Lowes, and Walmart. Walmart, by the way, had the most hardy looking Canadice vines:

The established vine that I'm guessing is 25 years old has 2 branches left, one about 1" and another about 1.75" in diameter. I decided to try the 1" first making 2 slots one on top and one on the bottom. I grafted 2 Canadice vines to the top slot, side by side and 2 Reliance to the bottom slot also side by side. I have no idea if side by side was a good thing to do or not but this was just an experiment so we'll see how it goes. I tried to follow this guide but I did not feel that I have the skill to do the diagonal mid cuts and get them to match up so I just left them out:

Also this, but the pictures are not as good:

I noticed that this mango grafting is similar but without the diagonal mid cuts:

I first made a fresh perpendicular cut to the main trunk with a pruning saw, sap began to ooze from the cut and the vine was clearly alive with a few new flowers off the trunk. There were suckers but I removed them about a week ago before reading that it is not a bad idea to leave a few. Then I made the face cut in the trunk also with the pruning saw, the trunk wood was so hard I just could not do it with a knife, I did then shave it with a sharp knife to get a clean smooth surface. A diagonal cut was made with the knife at the bottom of the cut to provide a small V.

Next, I took the store bought Reliance vines and cut off the roots to prep the scion, I'm not sure if the position of this cut is important, will the root area graft to the main trunk? I thought it might not so I cut above the root area. This vine was damp and softer so it was easy to make the matching face cut with a knife, then a small diagonal cut to form a V at the bottom. As I got close to the center I noticed that the center 1/8" diameter part of the scion was very soft, almost falling out. Is this an indication that I cut too deep?

I put these 2 Reliance scions into the bottom trunk cut and held them in place with a rubber band, temporarily. The 2 Canadice scions were prepped in the same way and put into the top trunk cut side by side. The graft was held in place with Parafilm grafting tape that I purchased on ebay. The rubber band was moved up to start with the tape, then completely out of the way once the taping was nearly complete. The tape stretches easily and this is how tension is provided, seemed a bit too stretchy to me. I'm tempted to put a hose clamp around it, LOL!

Some suggest using a cut toward the bottom of the trunk to relieve sap pressure so that the scions are not pushed out by the pressure.

I'm not saying that this is a good way to graft, as I said I'm new to this and I'm looking for suggestions and advice - it might not work at all.

It was getting dark by the time I finished and I'll have to take a final picture tomorrow.
This shows the two trunks of the old vine with a fresh cut to the smaller trunk:

This message was edited May 10, 2013 11:01 PM

This message was edited May 10, 2013 11:12 PM

Thumbnail by PeteB7
Trumbull, CT(Zone 7a)

First face cut, test fit of scion, second face cut:

Thumbnail by PeteB7 Thumbnail by PeteB7 Thumbnail by PeteB7
Trumbull, CT(Zone 7a)

Two views of all 4 scions in place:

Thumbnail by PeteB7 Thumbnail by PeteB7
Trumbull, CT(Zone 7a)

Finally grafted the Himrod scions to the larger trunk yesterday, May 27.
I hope they take.

Vista, CA


Good luck with the graft. Do all you can to prevent the graft from drying out, and the rest of it is now out or your hands.

The one Himrod cutting that i kept that survived the heat wave we had is now plantedin the ground, is about two feet tall, and looking good. The others just did not have enough roots when the temp got up to 95, and the leaves wilted.

I have my start now in the second location, so i will just bury vine tips now and propagate from it. I have buried a couple of Concord branches in a tub of potting soil, so i will have Concords next year to start them in a second location, two.

Himrod growth on the grape arbor vines is as much as two feet per day. Lots of grapes and i will take a picture when the grapes are a little bigger.


Trumbull, CT(Zone 7a)

Thanks again Ernie!
I grafted 4 of the Himrod scions that you sent, as shown in this
thread. I forgot that you used the square and angled cuts to
indicate the ends and did one upside down. I did this a while back.

I had taken the scions out of the fridge to let them warm up right
in the bag with the wet paper towels and left the remaining 4 until
I had a chance to put them in pots. We were having temps around
70 in the house at that time and when I got to them after about 2-4
weeks several had roots sprouting already! I was worried that I'd
waited too long and was very surprised to see the roots. I potted
them and 2 are just producing leaves now so I think that they're
doing fine. I'll pay more attention to watering in the pots.

Trumbull, CT(Zone 7a)

I just reread the procedure for grafting and noticed this statement:
"Note how the scion is lined up to one side of the face cut, not centered in the face cut. Proper alignment enables optimal cambium contact of the two faces, facilitating callous formation and healing of the graft. If the scion is positioned in the center of the face cut there is little, if any, cambium contact and the graft will likely be unsuccessful."

I don't think that I was certain what exactly cambium was when I read that but not centered should have been a hint:

Cambium is part of or near the bark so the edge of the scion has to make contact with the edge of the trunk. Putting two scions side by side helped get closer to the correct position but I'm fairly certain that I had virtually no cambium contact since I did nothing to help those surfaces touch. I'll probably put a wedge between the two scions of the right thickness to keep them both aligned if I try this again.

Vista, CA


Google "Cleft Grafting" if you cut the tops completely off of the old grapevines. That type of graft holds the cambium layers in place better than just the taping them on the side. I do not know if that works on grapes.

The camibum contact is the crucial part, and it dries out quickly, so those are the two most important parts.


Vista, CA


Will try to attach pictures of the Himrod cutting from this Spring. It is now 7' tall so i will bend it to the trellis.
The Arbor was built Spring of 2011, 27 months ago, and Grapes planted soon after. Most of the green grapes hanging down are Himrods, with some Perlettes. Also have Black Monukka, Flame, Concord and Thompson.


Thumbnail by ERNIECOPP Thumbnail by ERNIECOPP Thumbnail by ERNIECOPP Thumbnail by ERNIECOPP
Trumbull, CT(Zone 7a)

Cleft grafting looks like it might be a better way for me to do it and I do think that I'll try again next spring. The main trunk is very much alive and sprouting lots of stems.

Wow, from a cutting to 7'! That's something!

The Himrod that I planted last summer is finally doing well and recovering from the harsh winter with Sandy. It is a bit past where it was at the peak last summer. It lost all of the stems that grew last summer except for the main trunk.

I planted 5 more vines in the ground this spring in a bed on the other side of the house. The bed is strange in that the side close to the house grows everything amazingly well whereas the other end close to the house next door does VERY poorly. The Himrod at that end is hardly doing anything, then I have 3 Reliance and Canadice in a row, and finally a Catawba that I bought at half price at Lowes because it looked very vigorous and was in a good sized pot. The Catawba is growing very strong with a 2' maybe 3' vine, the others are at about 1.5', except for the Himrod that just has a few very small leaves on it. This is not your cuttings I got it at HD I think. Your cuttings are in pots, and I think are rooting just fine since 3 of 4 have started to produce leaves. I'm planning to move them to a spot in the backyard with good sun - I think they will probably do very well there.

I have to think about a trellis soon.

This message was edited Jul 5, 2013 4:05 PM

Vista, CA

I had to tie the cutting to the crossbar this morning and it is between 8 and 9 feet long now. I will prune it when it gets to the right end of the trellis, and then decide next Spring which of the side shoots i want to keep. Normally, i would only have four horizontals, but as vigorous as the Himrod seems to be, it may handle 6 horizontals. I have no idea how many fruiting spurs are on the Arbor, but many times what grape vines normally produce.

The underlying soil here is Decomposed granite with silt on top, very rich but it drains fast and requires lots of water. Southern CA water is brought 500 miles from Northern CA and is very expensive. My water bill for this half acre runs as much as 900 dollars for two months. Avocado and Citrus farmers are giving up, as Water costs more than the product is worh.


Trumbull, CT(Zone 7a)

Your pictures look amazing, nice arbor and grapes!

I didn't realize that the Himrods were so vigorous - I should probably hurry up and put them in the ground.

Have you considered replacing the top soil or ammending it with some of those modern additives to retain water? I'd probably not want to disturb them considering how well they're doing though.

Vista, CA


The Himrod cutting by the fence is growing between 6 and 8 inches per day. I turned it horizontal on the trellis at the 6 foot mark, to match the fence, and it has 8' total so far. Not sure how much of it i will retain next year, but this year i am building all the root i can.

The open subsoil is the problem here, as it goes beyond being well drained, it is over drained. I have had to add a lot of compost and amendments to open up the topsoil, and it is getting better every year. Just top dressing it does not work fast enough, so we either double dig it, or go real deep with a Husqvarna front tine rototiller. It is very fertile and requires very little fertilizer. Big water bills are painful, but i just think of it as part of the house payment or property taxes for living here, and accept it.

Probably saves that much in Doctor bills, as it keeps me moving.

Melons have been ripening like crazy, Cantaloupes now and Watermelons soon. Grapes filling out and changing color but not ready to eat yet.


Trumbull, CT(Zone 7a)

I have the opposite, about 7 or 8" of very nice top soil in most places and then clay. And we often hit rock at about 18" deep. I spoke to people at the extension office and they asked if the yard was graded down to the street, I said yes very well and they said the clay follows the grade so water will drain through the top soil down to the street and it seems to do just that.

A heat wave just started about a week ago, mid 80s to 90s and it seems that the grape vines really like it, one seems to have grown about 2 or 3 feet. My first Himrod is taking off. Some roses that I planted from pots last summer took off much earlier in the season and grew at least 2' more and had a lot of roses until the heat wave came.

Vista, CA

I am getting my planting areas in pretty good shape, as we have compost available in bulk at reasonable prices, but I sodded my lawn a year after moving here with just one amendment, and i wish i had worked on the soil another year before sodding it. It is nice and green but the ground is very compacted. I am hoping the grass roots will be able to get deep enough to loosen it up.

Himrods are getting soft and almost sweet enough to eat. maybe another wee or so.


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